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Michigan back in driver's seat for McGary?

10/28/2011

Next week, Mitch McGary (Chesterton, Ind./Brewster) will decide between Michigan, Duke and Florida. He officially visited each school except for Florida. “I think the kid’s getting kind of burnt out with it,” one college assistant said. “I think the kid’s going to Michigan.”

This is on the verge of becoming one of those rare full circle situations. A few weeks ago, the Wolverines were on the verge of getting a commitment from McGary; I believe that. At that point, a number of programs, sensing that Michigan was close, began chipping away. When a leader emerges -- as Michigan did -- it makes it easy for every school to see whom they have to beat and therefore the leader winds up under attack. A lot of times, the perceived leader never recovers and fades. In this case, Michigan appears to have overcome the objections and has itself positioned to nab the top power forward in the country next week. Now, here’s the caveat: this situation has changed before, therefore it could change again but right now it’s on autopilot and the guy flying the plane likes the Wolverines.

If it smells like NC State and looks like NC State ...

McGary won’t be the only Brewster Academy kid committing next week. T.J. Warren is set to make his pick on Wednesday. Warren is down to Georgetown and NC State. His dad played at NC State, family lives in Durham, was a little homesick at Brewster. OK, you got me here. I’ll take the Wolfpack until someone comes up with a better theory.

Juco Alex Davis heating up already

Steve Eck’s had a lot of great players at Hutchinson; Alex Davis (Houston, Tex./Hutchinson JC) could be the next one. The 6-foot-9 big man lost a year of basketball last season when he chased a prep school dream only to have the school he went to close down. After missing out on prep school, Davis concluded his year back home in Houston.

“He was working at Walmart last year,” Hutchinson assistant coach Jay Cyriac said. “I did my home visit on his 15-minute break at Walmart in Stafford, Texas.” Now, just a JC freshman, Davis is already a hot name. Before his first game of the year, Dayton, Cincinnati, DePaul, USC, South Florida and Kansas State have been in to see him. There’s reason to think that by next year – if not sooner – he’ll be one of the top juco bigs in the country.

“He’s got guys in his life that help him,” Cyriac said. “Juwann McClellan, a former Arizona guard and now assistant at Houston Yates, has been a positive influence on him.”

Virginia Tech’s new wing

I can hear the fans now. “He’s not in the Top 100, how good can he be?” So many times that’s the only standard by which a player is judged. A lot of the time, it’s a solid barometer by which you can measure elite high-major talent. However, there are always exceptions. Marshall Wood (Rustburg, Va./Rustburg) could become an exception. This week, Virginia Tech outlasted VCU for his services.

Exactly what did Virginia get in Wood? They found a shot-making, perimeter-oriented wing that only turned 17 in September. Hello, that’s a John Beilein late birthday special right there.

“Last year when I took the job here, he could really shoot the set 3, one dribble pull-up,” coach Brantley Shields said. “Since then he has really worked hard at shooting the ball on the move off various screens, hand offs, etc. He initially had really solid length and a quick second jump, but really lacked toughness on the boards. This is probably the area he has improved the most, just his strength and toughness around the basket. He has really improved his footwork, angles, and timing defensively as well as his toughness. His ballhandling has improved, but still needs to get better, especially in traffic. He is probably an average passer. He has the body, quickness, length, and work ethic, if he improves his ballhandling, he could be pretty special. He is a gym rat and soaks up coaching; kid wants to be great.”

And that, folks, is a player you take a chance on.

Under the radar commitment of the week

I saw a lot of prospects last summer. Hundreds of different kids playing ball. I’ll never forget Chris Reyes (LaVerne, Calif./Damien) for his Reebok Breakout Camp performance. So many times we see kids try and be something they aren’t. Reyes, at Reebok, was constant energy and hustle. He’s a 6-6 power forward with good athleticism. However, because of his size, he’s got to supply energy and intensity. When I heard St. Mary’s nabbed him it made total sense. The great mid-major programs don’t try and reinvent the wheel. The Gaels probably value Reyes for who he is. I’m sure they’ll try and give him the tools to be a good midrange shooter though they’ll let him be who he is and that’s a guy that will play with a chip on his shoulder. Randy Bennett won’t have to coach effort with this kid.