Michigan head coach John Beilein has had a run of good news in recent days. First came word that a program initiative he had fought for since he was hired moved one step closer to reality when the Board of Regents announced last Thursday that it had approved designs for a practice facility. Then today came another memorable victory. It was a win in another fight that had persisted since his hire. The veteran coach had long ago verbally dismissed the misplaced notion that he wouldn't compete for the top talent in the state, but still there were skeptics. The physical proof finally came a little after 7:00 this morning when Southfield G Carlton Brundidge pledged to the Maize & Blue.
"I just called and up them I was committing," Brundidge said. "They were going crazy! They were jumping up and down, high fives and everything."
That reaction says everything. It reflects the Brundidge's impressive talent while also sending a definitive message to those that believed that the paradigm for John Beilein's teams could be seen in the movie Hoosiers. Furthermore, it confirmed for Brundidge just how important he is to his future program. The talented youngster couldn't help but notice the overwhelming attention he had been receiving from the Beilein and company since the summer… attention that culminated in a visit from Beilein and assistants Mike Jackson and John Mahoney to his 6:00 am workout at his school.
"That showed a lot of love to come out there at six o'clock in the morning usually when people sleep," Brundidge said. "That showed me a lot of love – that's part of why (the commitment happened)."
What the Michigan staff may not have known at the time is that this morning's announcement had actually been settled upon a few days earlier.
Said Brundidge, "I went up there Friday just to check out a workout and that's when I left there, I said, ‘you know what, Michigan showing me love and everything like that, I'm going to go ahead and sign up.'"
The combination of academics, Beilein's track record for developing players, and the coaching staff's consistent full-court press made Michigan tough to beat. Michigan State, Miami, Wake Forest (all of whom had offered scholarships) "were right there." That said, the factor that pushed the Maize & Blue over the hump was trust… trust in Beilein's word that Michigan was the best place for him, and trust in the family circle that shared that sentiment.
"My sister went (to Michigan)," said Brundidge. "She gave me the inside scoop about the whole Michigan thing. I feel like I have a good relationship with Beilein. It was mainly talking to him and him telling me that if I worked hard he would take care of me. Beilein always talks about me in a good way. Coach (Speedy) Walker (former Coach of the AAU program "The Family") had called and he put in his blessing too. I felt like it was the best spot."
So what is Michigan getting in Scout.com's #64 player in the class of 2011? Brundidge is scoring guard whose style is similar to that of former Wolverine great Rumeal Robinson. And while he doesn't have Robinson's explosive hops, he has all of the other intangible qualities that so many Michigan fans still hold dear. Brundidge is a powerful 6-2, 180-pounder that can put the ball on the floor and finish despite contact. As a matter of fact, he thrives when the game becomes more physical. He also thrives when the stage is bigger and when his opponent (or opponents) step to him. Quite simply, what he lacks in size he makes up for in heart. No one can predict what level his game will eventually graduate to, but what we can say with absolute certainty is every time fans watch Brundidge play they will come away believing they just watched a bona fide DOG go to work. Beilein clearly believes the talented youngster will play a prominent role for the Maize & Blue in the not too distant future.
"When I went up there for an unofficial visit (Coach Beilein) told me that the ball would be in my hands – be the point guard and run the show. He wants me to turn the Michigan program around, that's basically it."
In reality the turnaround is well underway, but there no mistaking the fact that Brundidge could have a large hand in helping it continue. To do so, though, he will need help. In the coming months he plans to work hard to get it.
"I'm going to try and get Amir Williams to come with me," said Brundidge. "Me and him are wanting to go to the same school and everything, and I know Michigan was one of our choices, but I've still got to talk to him."
Check back on GoBlueWolverine.com tomorrow for word on exactly how Beilein blew away the competition.