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November 14, 2013

Four-man hoops class a solid complement

Michigan's freshman basketball class is performing as well as expected on the court, and the future is just as bright. Portland, Ore. four-star Kameron Chatman headlines a four-man class that should complement this year's - and last year's - groups well.

Three from the 2012 class will likely remain next year from a group that should go down as one of the Wolverines' top five ever assembled. Big man Mitch McGary and wing/forward Glenn Robinson III are likely in their last seasons after flirting with the NBA last year, while guards Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert have potential to be future pros down the road.

Class of 2013 point guard Derrick Walton Jr. and wing Zak Irvin are off to great starts, while power forward Mark Donnal is waiting his turn, but is everything the Michigan coaches expected him to be.

Up next: a 2014 group headlined by Chatman that includes star power and size.

"I love the potential of this recruiting class," Beilein said. "They are outstanding young men who love the game, and all bring something different to our program."

Portland Columbia Christian's Chatman didn't play varsity basketball during his junior season after being ruled ineligible following a transfer to Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, but that didn't stop him from being recruited at a high level. He averaged 25.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists playing 14 junior varsity games and put up 9.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.4 rebounds as a sophomore in Portland. He averaged 15.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game on the Nike EYBL travel circuit over the summer.

It's Chatman's versatility that makes him special. At 6-7 (Rivals.com's No. 29 senior nationally), Chatman can see over defenders and is an impressive assist man. He's still working on a consistent jumper, but he's got great length and has been called a future pro by Rivals.com's Eric Bossi and others.

"Kam has a unique ability to play either guard or forward because he is both an excellent rebounder and passer," Beilein said. "His versatility and ability to see the floor gives him the potential of being an excellent playmaker, scorer and defender for us at many different positions."

Oregon Live took video of Chatman's signing. He picked the Wolverines over Arizona in somewhat of a surprise, noting he felt comfortable with the coaching staff and the players.

Sacramento (Calif.) forward D.J. Wilson (6-9, No. 135) wasn't highly recruited as a sophomore, but he burst on to the recruiting scene this summer after missing the spring with a bad back. He plays elbows at the rim, has a 7-3 wing span and was starting to pick up more interest before Michigan plucked him away from Gonzaga and others.

Wilson averaged 9.7 points and 4.6 rebounds as a senior in helping the Cougars to a 26-5 record. As a sophomore he put up 8.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in leading Capital Christian to a 26-6 record.

"D.J. is just oozing with potential," Beilein said. "He is very skilled and can become an excellent combo forward for us. He has great length and can play above the rim because of his athleticism. As he fills into his 6-9 frame his outstanding work habits will be a great asset to him in his development."

Michigan showed more interest than anybody, Wilson told the Sacramento Bee, which sold him and his mother on his visit.

"They had all their assistants out here, including LaVall Jordan, who recruited me," Wilson said. "Then coach Beilein came and met with the faculty and staff of the middle school and the high school. He toured the campus. That all took me by surprise. It showed that they were really interested in me. That was a big plus."

There was one summer game in particular that put Wilson on the map - a one-game matchup against Oakland's 6-9 Ivan Raab, one of the nation's top five Class of 2015 recruits, in a summer camp at Cal.

"Going into that game, there really hadn't been much interest in D.J.," Capital Christian coach Devon Jones, Wilson's coach since elementary school, told the Bee. "He didn't have a good junior season, he was still growing into his body and there were the injuries. A lot of people had backed off.

"Ivan had just come back from playing with the USA (under 16) team, but D.J. won the matchup. He was the more versatile player, and he had never been that physical before. You could see the confidence."

Three-star Florida big man Ricky Doyle (6-9), meanwhile, wasn't in top shape over the summer due to an injury that sidelined him most of the season, and it showed at the NBPA camp. He struggled at times - not surprising, though, given that he doesn't play much AAU ball and wasn't accustomed to the environment.

Purdue and many others showed interest in Doyle, but the big man with a 7-2 wingspan ended his recruitment early after a great trip to Michigan last year.

"We love that Ricky can play in both high and low post," Beilein said. "He has a tremendous feel for the game whether he is on the perimeter or with his back to the basket. He loves contact, so he is a great fit for Big Ten basketball. Our fans will love Ricky's 'old school approach' to playing the game."

Doyle finishes well with both hands and has a great, midrange touch. He has helped Bishop Verot to three straight 4A District 11 League titles and regional finals in 2011 and 2012. He missed 20 games with a foot injury as a junior, but he still averaged 21.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. As a sophomore he averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds and guided the Vikings a 25-5 record and the Class 4A Regional final.

Doyle hopes to prove himself and see the floor as a freshman.

Finally, Hatch, a Fort Wayne (Ind.) native, is spending a fifth-year at Loyola High School in Pasadena, Calif. after getting clearance from the NCAA. He missed all of 2012 and 2013 due to injuries sustained in a 2011 plane crash that claimed the lives of his father and stepmother.

As a sophomore, Hatch helped Canterbury to a 17-5 record averaging 23.0 points and 9.0 rebounds.

"Austin is a consummate, high IQ player who is an excellent shooter," Beilein said. "He sees the floor and his teammates well and has great leadership capabilities. We are excited to have him back and playing basketball again. We expect Austin to be an important part of Michigan Basketball during all of his years at Michigan."

Whether or not Hatch is able to play again at a high level remains to be seen, but the coaching staff has maintained all along there was a place for him in the program.

The Michigan coaching staff will continue to look at 2014 recruits in the late signing period, but it's more likely they'll save room for members of the 2015 class.


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