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Michigan Basketball is Here to Stay

Michigan's 2012 recruiting class (from left to right): Spike Albrecht, Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas, and Caris LeVert

As long as John Beilein sticks around, that is.  Since his 10-22 inaugural campaign back in 2007-08, Beilein boasts a 112-63 record in Ann Arbor, including 4 NCAA Tournament appearances and a National Championship appearance this past season.  Coach Beilein left a West Virginia program that he made relevant and inherited a tumultuous train wreck that was just finishing its last year with scholarship reductions and post-season ineligibility.  In fact, two of the three coaches that preceded Beilein at Michigan received NCAA sanctions during their tenures as head coach.  Needless to say, Coach Beilein has proven to be the right man to turn around the tarnished program he received in 2007. 

One trait that makes Beilein such a great basketball coach is his ability to make great players out of anyone.  Beilein took the 84th overall prospect in the 2011 recruiting class and developed him into the 2013 Big Ten Player of the Year, AP Player of the Year, Naismith Trophy winner, First Team All-American, and Wooden Award winner with only two seasons of coaching (he is known to the country as Trey Burke).  Remember Spike Albrecht?  The other Michigan guard who came off the bench as a freshman during the National Championship game and sparked Michigan with 17 first half points (including four 3-pointers)?  He was a 1-star recruit, and the 112th ranked point guard in the nation.  What about Nik Stauskas?  Also a freshman, this Canadian phenom led the Big Ten in free-throw percentage (85.1%) and repeatedly led the nation in three-point shooting percentage, with his signature shooting performance coming against Florida in the Elite Eight, where he went a perfect 6-6 from behind the arc.  Stauskas came into Ann Arbor as the #21 overall small forward in the 2012 class.  The fact that Stauskas was able to produce among the likes of fellow top recruits/teammates Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary (both #5 at their respective positions) speaks volumes about Beilein’s ability to make a great player out of anyone on his roster.

This should excite Wolverine fans even more: the talent Beilein has been bringing in to Ann Arbor is only getting better.  His 2011 haul consisted of Trey Burke and two other unspectacular prospects that are no longer on Michigan’s roster.  The 2012 class is by far Beilein’s best recruiting class at Michigan thus far, including future lottery picks Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, and Nick Stauskas.  And then there’s Spike Albrecht, who is the prime candidate to take over Trey Burke’s duties as the orchestrator of the offense.  The jury is still out on this season’s freshman class, but they look just as promising as the 2012 class.  The headliners of this class include #6 overall small forward Zak Irvin (who played alongside 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Gary Harris in high school) and the #8 overall point guard Derrick Walton.  These two should fill the void left behind by first round draftees Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr.  Both players come in as better prospects, and based off Beilein’s track record, I’d bet that he knows exactly what to do with these young bucks.

Beilein’s young Wolverines took the country by storm during the NCAA tournament last season.  With 3 freshmen starters returning from last season’s squad, great depth on the bench, and a couple of top recruits sprinkled on the side, Michigan figures to be a force to reckon with this season.  If Beilein can keep landing top recruits like Robinson and McGary in future classes, then Michigan basketball should have no trouble maintaining its status among the country’s elite programs for the foreseeable future.