Versatility is the name of the game for Kalamazoo (MI) Central guard/forward Devin Oliver. The 6-5 175-pounder is a jack-of-all-trades on the basketball floor. His handle and court vision make him a capable setup man, his shooting touch and ability to put it on the floor make him a weapon offensively, and his tenaciousness and long arms on the defensive end of the floor make him a menace to opposing scorers. That combination of abilities clearly piqued the interest of Michigan headman John Beilein, who was seen watching the talented youngster during the state playoffs. Last week Oliver made it to campus and heard first hand exactly how he might fit into the picture for the Wolverines.
"We got the tour of the campus and talked with Coach Beilein," said Oliver's father. "We talked academics and then he talked basketball. I don't know what the situation was before (Beilein), but they want to follow the philosophy of the school even with their athletes and have them get a top notch education. As far as the basketball is concerned, it seemed to me that Coach Beilein likes for his players to be able to play from two to four positions and Devin is versatile. He can dribble, pass, shoot, but he saw him playing mostly the three position... the position that Manny (Harris) plays."
Harris' success last season makes such a role particularly appealing. The Olivers observed the Maize & Blue's improved play on television and in person last year and were extremely impressed.
"The Michigan program is definitely on the upswing with them making the NCAAs," Mr. Oliver said. "It looks like they play the type of game that as a player you could end up any place on the floor… from shooting threes to posting up down low. All the players seem to be interchangeable, kind of like an Orlando Magic type team. I think they are on a real upswing. They had a little setback, but I think (Beilein) seems to be the type of guy that can help them return back to their power status."
"It's still an open process but Michigan is one of the schools that (Devin) likes," Mr. Oliver continued. "It's down to a number less than what it started out to be after the state title game."
Some of the other schools still in prime contention are Providence, Stanford, Michigan State, Dayton, and Butler. None have offered yet, but Oliver hopes that will change in the near future. Once the scholarships finally roll in, his final decision will rest on some very specific criteria.
"I'm going to say it will come down to academics, personality of coach, and style of play at the university," Mr. Oliver explained. "We have not come up with (a decision timeline) yet. We are all the time working on different factors to pin it down to a smaller number. We don't have any other (unofficial visits) planned for this month, but we have been on others already. We went up to Michigan State, we have gone over to Butler, and we have gone up to Western Michigan University because his mom and I played."
Oliver plans to return to Ann Arbor later this month for Michigan's Elite camp.