Michigan basketball coaches have hit the Midwest hard in recruiting over the last few years, but that hasn't prevented them from taking a peek nationally, too. Junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr., for one, came to Michigan from Miami, 2008-10 point guard Darius Morris from Los Angeles. Another warm weather climate prospect has entered the scene, this one a class of 2014 big man from Fort Myers (Fla.) Bishop Verot.
At 6-9, 235 pounds, Ricky Doyle is just scratching the surface of his potential. He just turned 16 years old in May, yet he plays with the court presence of a senior, not a sophomore. Head coach Matt Herting has been at the school for 14 years and has seen some great post players come and go - not only at his school, but in surrounding areas - yet he's never seen one so polished at such a young age.
"He's a great back to the basket player, and I mean great," Herting said. "He's very good with either hand. He's aggressive, but he's not selfish down there in the post. He's really good feeling a double team and kicking it out, really good giving it up when he doesn't have anything and sealing for the reversal, all those things. He is only going to continue to improve over the next two years."
Doyle averaged around 13 points and seven rebounds per game as a sophomore for a 22-8 Bishop Verot squad, doing most of his damage close to the basket. He comes from a basketball family - his dad spent a short time with the Detroit Pistons before playing overseas - and he's a good athlete for his size. He might get undersold due his physique, Herting noted - "he's a big, gangly young kid with a size 18 shoe and a 7-2 wing span" - but he can get off the floor and he runs the floor well.
Doyle earned looks from several programs this summer while playing with his high school team on the AAU circuit.
"He has a really good understanding of playing with nine other guys on the court," Herting said. "That's going to be a big advantage when he gets to college. A lot of guys get it and go, but he's a very patient post player, very smart, understands how to make other guys better. He knows when he does and when he doesn't have a shot."
That was one of the qualities that intrigued Michigan coaches when they saw Doyle this summer. They watched several of his games after first noticing him in the spring, having put in the time to make sure they were noticed.
Head coach John Beilein watched Doyle work out as his school Sept. 26, while assistants Bacari Alexander and LaVall Jordan have also paid close attention. The Doyles are just as intrigued by Michigan, he continued.
"There are certain schools they are very interested based on academics and basketball fit," Herting said. "That list is a lot smaller than most people would suspect. They've eliminated a lot of schools where they think either academically or style of play would not be a good fit, but I think they're very interested in Michigan."
Doyle holds offers from Boston College, Penn State and Creighton and is hearing from Miami, Purdue, Kansas State, Washington, Stanford, and USC in addition to Michigan. The schools involved have what he's looking for in terms of both academics and basketball, with style of play a key factor. Several other schools have inquired, but many were eliminated before receiving consideration just because they weren't the right fit.
Several others, meanwhile, have tried to get Doyle on campus for unofficial visits this fall, but no trips are in the cards. It probably won't be until after the season that he makes campus visits.
"He's not going to make a decision now anyway, so there's no need to hurry it for him," Herting said.
When he does decide, however, Michigan will likely be a major player - should the Wolverines eventually offer.
"I think Michigan is potentially a very good fit for Ricky," Herting said. "He's only just starting his junior year, so who knows where it's going to go from here. He'll very seriously consider them, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens with it."