When a program is trying to get respect among recruits, nothing helps more than a victory over a ranked opponent. For the University of Michigan men's basketball team two such victories have been a breath of fresh air. Prior to victories over UCLA and Duke, the Wolverines had great interest in top prospects but the strength of that interest wasn't always mutual. Now with those wins in hand, attitudes are changing. Case in point, Jackson, TN wing Casey Prather
The class of 2010 standout has seen his stock rise considerably in recent months. He currently holds offers from Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Alabama, Mississippi, Minnesota and Georgia. Others such as Stanford, Kentucky, Florida, Memphis, Tennessee and Duke are showing growing interest. Another program keeping close tabs on the talented youngster has been Michigan. Ordinarily the prospect of facing such formidable competition might seem like too daunting a task for the Maize & Blue, but the Wolverines of today have a lot more juice on the recruiting trail. Their victories over two top five teams has caused many prospects, including Prather, to take notice of their success.
"I like Michigan's style of play the way they get up and down and spread the floor," the 6-5, 180-pounder told GoBlueWolverine. "I also like the way Coach Beilein is on the sideline with the players."
Added Prather's father Jeff Reed, "we have had a chance to take a look at Michigan and they have looked very good."
Michigan's hot start, obviously highlighted by the UCLA and Duke victories, is what really got Prather's attention.
"I thought the win against UCLA was big, but when Michigan beat Duke that was huge," young Prather stated. "They never backed down from a tough Duke team if they had made some of those lay-ups they would have won by more."
Keying Prather's recruitment has been the responsibility of Michigan assistant John Mahoney, and his persistence appears to be paying off.
"Me and Coach Mahoney discuss Michigan's program and what they are doing," Mr. Reed reported. "We definitely keep in touch."
"Coach Mahoney sends me emails to let me know what is going on with the team and we talk from time to time," added Prather.
Mahoney isn't the only coach maintaining consistent correspondence though. During Prather's chat with GoBlueWolverine he received a call from the University of Miami.
"Sorry about that," Prather said as he came back to the phone. "That was Miami making sure I received their offer."
The latest scholarship offer is only a sign of things to come if Prather has more 41 point, 16 rebound performances like he did a few weeks ago. Even so, all of the increased activity won't cause him to alter his patient timeline.
"We hope to cut down his list of schools by the spring or summer just to get a handle on things," he said. "Right now we are just taking our time and evaluating everything."
Guiding Prather throughout the recruiting process will be his parents. In the youngster's conversations with GoBlueWolverine his humbleness and his appreciation for what is happening to him in basketball comes out all the time. That's a result of the molding of two people that have stressed what's truly important.
"My parents make sure I am doing the right things," Prather admitted. "My mom and dad don't play when it comes to academics. They have always told me academics first and everything else second."
"Casey understands how important academics are and that education comes first," Mr. Reed stated. "Casey is carrying a 3.3 grade point average. "
As far as visits go, Prather has made it to Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Alabama unofficially. Michigan just might be added to that list before season's end.
"We would really like to get up there to see a game up at Michigan," Mr. Reed said. "Hopefully things will work out schedule wise where we can take a visit and see the campus and a game."