With the class of 2008 all sewed up, Michigan Coach John Beilein and his staff have been busy in recent weeks scouting prospects for 2009 and beyond. Their travel schedule during the evaluation period has featured basketball events all over the country. The crew clearly knows that they need to go out and wrap up the next crop of players in order to continue the forward growth of this young program. One place that Michigan is looking to stake a claim is in Ohio. The Buckeye state is known for its rich football talent, but it recent years it has been equally successful churning out good division one roundball prospects as well.
One of the prospects of interest for the Maize & Blue has been 5-11 guard Carl Jones from Garfield Heights, OH. He may have become even more of a watched man based on his performances at the Real Deal and King James AAU events. His play this spring has raised his profile significantly. Indeed schools like Kentucky and OSU are inquiring about Jones, also known as Tay-Tay, to gauge interest in the rising junior’s future plans.
GoBlueWolverine spoke to Jones' father last night on the heels of his and his son's trip to Ann Arbor earlier that day to see where the Wolverines fit in.
“We took a visit to Michigan to look around and met the coaching staff and the academic people," Mr. Jones said. "Coach Beilein has been looking at my son since he was a sophomore. Now that he has received his ACT scores the interest has increased along with Tay’s performance at some of these AAU events.”
The Jones family isn’t a stranger to neither Beilein nor the kind of program he runs. Mr. Jones feels that UM is on the way back to their winning ways and feels that Beilein is the man to get them there.
Said Mr. Jones, “Carl and I like how Beilein does things. He knows what he is doing and knows what he wants in a ball player. My son can do it all... set the offense up, change of direction dribble, and shoot the three. Coach wants kids that want to run to Michigan and play for him. Our visit was to get acquainted and check things out. Beilein wanted to meet us, talk to us, and get to know us as a family.”
“(Tay's mother) came with us and got to meet everybody including the team, and the academic support staff," Mr. Jones continued. "We are looking for a school that will challenge Carl academically and mentally. Carl has picked up his grades and is very excited about the possibilities out there for him, I’m proud of him.”
With offers from universities like Iowa, Virginia, Xavier in hand, Jones clearly has a number of strong options. Did Michigan join that club yesterday? “No, not yet," Mr. Jones replied when asked if his son ha been extended a scholarship offer. "We are in the feeling out period. I like how Coach Beilein goes about things. This is a business and we understand that. Carl knows that Beilein does things a certain way and he is fine with that. Coach has been watching my son since he was a sophomore. He likes taking the three star kids... kids he can work with and players that fit the type of program he is building. I like that. I saw the current team working while we were on our visit and they seem to be focused and working hard. They were going through their drills, working out, and seemed very happy with the direction that Beilein is leading them. Coach knows what he is doing and I am confident that Michigan will be a winning program. Tay didn’t get a chance to play with the guys because they were busy, but they seem very excited about what was going on.”
Part of the excitement may stem from what may be on the horizon with regard to facilities. Mr. Jones mentioned that Beilein opined that the practice facility is on the way and that it may be available by Carl’s freshman year. That only strengthened the family's view of Michigan. The information gathered during the visit should help the Wolverines remain a prominent factor in Jones recruitment as more and more schools enter the fray. For months it appeared that the family was trying to make a July decision, but with more offers and interest rolling in, they will take their time and make an informed decision. In the meantime young Jones will be focusing on honing his game. He will try out for the ABCD event before preparing for a few upcoming AAU events in Cincinnati, the West Coast, and Las Vegas.