basketball Edit

Signing Day Capsule: Papa Kante is a Wolverine

2023 Rivals150 four-star, Papa Kante, made it official this afternoon when he delivered his letter of intent to the University of Michigan. He was joined by fellow four-star, George Washington III, in the 2023 recruiting class early on in November.

The two willofficially become Wolverines and are ready to finish their senior year before joining the team next fall.

Kante had long been Juwan Howard's top target at the center position in the class of 2023, before ultimately becoming the first member of the recruiting class back in October.

The journey for Kante, both as a person and a player, is admirable and like something out of a movie. Growing up in Senegal, the odds of Kante ever stepping foot on an American college campus for basketball, were astronomical.

That all changed when Kante took an unheralded opportunity to leave his family and move to the United States to pursue better opportunities in both basketball and life alike.

The fifth best center prospect in the class of 2023 ultimately decided on Michigan over the likes of Rutgers, Memphis, Maryland, and Pitt. Kante's signature makes it the fourth straight year the Wolverines have brought in a top five prospect at that position, which speaks volumes to what Juwan Howard is as a recruiter.

Kante earned his four-star and top 100 ranking on the defensive side of the ball. He is as good as they come, and I would argue, is the top defensive center in the entire class. The effort and intensity Kante plays with, give him the ability to not only make an impact early, but be a mainstay in the rotation.

The odds of Kante playing as a freshman, sway heavily on the decision of Hunter Dickinson. If Dickinson returns, Kante is likely to see little to no minutes, but if the All-American decides to leave for the NBA, Kante will be primed to play at least 10-15 minutes per game.

The South Kent native brings a 6-foot-10 and 220 pound frame to Ann Arbor. When you imagine Kante's size, think former Michigan star, Moussa Diabate. The two have extremely similar frames and have grown to be really good friends, after connecting on Kante's official visit back in June.

"I really enjoyed the visit. It was pretty good," Kante told Maize & Blue Review. "To see everything and the way they take care of the players. I got a chance to talk to Moussa Diabate and we still text. It was a blessing to be there and see it all. It’s a good school and they have great players. It’s a beautiful school too."

Kante and Diabate both share a similar situation, as both were raw upon their entrance to Michigan, but Diabate was definitely further along than the likes of Kante. They are very similar on the defensive side of the ball, with both being very comfortable guarding one through five.

Drawing up a player comparison for Kante is really difficult, because he is so raw as a prospect. There is so much more growth for him to attain that it's hard to project where he ends up. The one comp that I like currently, is Clifford Omoruyi from Rutgers. Raw but gifted athletes, with an innate ability to crash the glass and get put back buckets around the basket. Expanding range, but as freshman, limited within 12 feet. However, I feel Kante as a higher motor than the Rutgers star.


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