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July 1, 2014

Hoops: Analyzing U-M targets in new 2016 Rivals100

Michigan is a major player for some of the nation's top 2016 hoops talent, led by five-star point guard Derryck Thornton, Jr. Here's a look at the movers and where the Wolverines stand:

Derryck Thornton Jr., PG (offer)
Henderson, Nev., Findlay Prep
Rivals.com's No. 11 player nationally (from No. 20)

The 6-2 Thornton moves up on the strength of an outstanding NBPA Top 100 camp in Virginia, where he earned MVP honors. He proved he could run the show and distribute and score when necessary.

"One of the fiercest competitors at any position, Thornton is a pit bull-intense point guard - in an era where some players duck big-time matchups, Thornton is willing to lace them up against anybody anywhere. He was dynamic on both ends of the floor at the NBPA Top 100 Camp and really earned his move from No. 20 to No. 11 overall."

Michigan is battling Kentucky, UConn, Arizona and others, but the Wolverines are as solid as anyone at this point. He could play his college ball with friend and 2016 four-star Tyus Battle, and the two did visit together.

Jamal Murray, PG
Kitchener, Ont. (Can.) Athlete Institute
No. 18 nationally (prev: 18)

The 6-2 Murray is somewhat oblivious to the recruiting process, letting his parents and others handle it for him, but there's no denying his talent. The 6-3, 180-pounder has seen Michigan and Illinois, among others, but he's just getting started.

Murray averaged 11.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game while shooting 44.9 percent from the field, 39.5 on three-pointers and 77.1 at the free-throw line in Nike Elite Youth Basketball League action (10-6 record). He could receive an offer if he visits again, but he has no plans to do so yet.

T.J. Leaf, PF (offer)
El Cajon, Calif., Foothills Christian
No. 20 (prev. No. 17)

Leaf proved his worth on the AAU circuit with Compton Magic, and he's already been to Michigan twice. Indiana, UCLA and Michigan have showed him the most that he was a priority.

"Those are probably the main three," Leaf said. "There are other programs that showed a lot of interest, but those are the top three that showed they really, really want me."

His only currently scheduled visit is to Arizona in early August. Indiana was the childhood favorite, but Michigan is a serious player.

Joshua Langford, SG
Madison, Ala., Madison County
No. 21 (prev. No. 21)

Langford has spent the summer taking a break from basketball, but he's one of the top shooting guards in his class and the best player on a loaded Atlanta Celtics AAU team. He's extremely serious about Michigan and will visit U-M in August.

The junior to be is now 6-6, 200 according to his father, and being recruited by schools coast to coast. Alabama offered him before he was in high school while Michigan and Michigan State have been on him for a while, as well. Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, UCLA, Providence, Oklahoma State and Auburn are among the others seriously involved, and the list is growing.

Tyus Battle, SG (offer)
Gladstone, N.J., Gill St. Bernard School
No. 25 (prev. No. 11)

Battle has played more in the ball with his hands this spring and summer and it's been an adjustment, but he was very good at the Michigan camp and is a legit top 25 talent, at least. He and Thornton are good friends and could go to school together, though it's not a certainty.

U-M is in solid shape here, though Syracuse, Kentucky, UConn and others are also very high on his list. He and Thornton are considering the package deal route.

"We're thinking about going to the same school," Thornton said. "We're close friends. We've been friends since like the sixth grade. We keep in contact. We might want to go to the same school but it's not locked yet, but it'd be cool if we can."

Cassius Winston, PG (offer)
Detroit U-D Jesuit
No. 35 (prev. No. 30)

The 6-1 Winston fell five spots, but not because he hasn't been playing well. He tore up two Michigan camps in the last three weeks, has been on campus one time in between and is everything you're looking for in a college guard. He can drive it, shoot it and pass it.

Winston is very high on both Michigan and Michigan State, and many believe it will be a U-M vs. MSU battle when it's all said and done. He's not close to making a decision, however.

Eron Gordon, SG
Indianapolis North Central
No. 38 (prev. 34)

Gordon was the third leading scorer on the adidas Gauntlet AAU circuit, and the 6-2 standout can shoot it. He does tend to take a lot of shots to get his points, but he's talented and believes he can play some point guard at the next level.

Gordon was in Ann Arbor recently for an unofficial visit. He likes Indiana, Duke, Kentucky and several others. U-M has yet to offer.

Quentin Goodin, PG (offer)
Campbellsville, Ky., Taylor County
No. 58 (prev. 51)

Goodin plans to spend the rest of the summer playing with the AAU St. Louis Eagles before formulating his initial list, but the Wolverines are likely to be high on it. Indiana, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kansas State are among those that have offered, while Florida, VCU and Ohio State have recently inquired.

The 6-2 point guard was very good at the Michigan camp in earning his offer, and he's as good off the court as on.

Barret Benson, PF
Willowbrook, Ill., Hinsdale South
No. 84 (prev. NR)

Benson has camped at Michigan two straight years and has improved dramatically. He's still formulating his list but insists U-M is and will be high on it throughout his recruitment.

The 6-9, 245-pounder continues to develop and will be one to watch this summer.

Matthew Moyer, SF
Columbus, Ohio, Lincoln
No. 90 (prev. NR)

"Wisconsin was the first high-major school to offer me and I definitely respect that," Moyer told BadgerBlitz.com recently. "They identified me early on and showed me how I would fit into their system. They are coming off a great year with the Final Four run and they will always be a big school in my recruitment.

"With schools that I think could be close to offering, UCLA, Arizona, Michigan and UConn - I just talked to coach Kevin Ollie the other day -- are close. Those are some schools that seem to be close to offering and will be watching me in July."

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