2017 Recruiting Notes

Hard to say. For context, The Family finished 7-9 in EYBL, which ranks 22nd out of 40 teams. Were they a bad team, no (Mac Irvin was BAD), but they certainly weren’t good either. I categorize them as an average/slightly below average team. Cain was head and shoulders the best player on the team IMO, but the ball wasn’t in his hands a lot to be honest. Jamal often played out of position at the 4, because quite frankly, The Family bigs just aren’t good enough at the level. Jermaine Jackson Jr ended up dominating the ball A LOT, and Jamal rarely seen the ball other than catch and shoot 3s, and he certainly made the most of those opportunities.

To give some more context, my advanced stats guy @advancedbbstats on Twitter (JM uses this as well), has Jamal ranked #83 in his EYBL MVP race, which is the upper quartile of all EYBL players. All the stats/film seem to indicate a top 60-80 guy IMO.


That was the best film I’ve seen on him yet. A sixty to eighth ranking is very fair.

Interesting numbers. Of course, with the full caveat that these numbers tell only part of the story and must be adjusted for context (the quality of the team played on) and sample size, here is where some other targets or guys mentioned here or elsewhere are rated:

X. Tillman–66
Decisic ('18–Canada)–93
D. Tillman–114
T. Finke ('18–Champaign, Il.)–126
Johns ('18–Michigan)–146
J. Smith–165

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Totally agree, numbers certainly don’t tell the entire story. Have not been impressed with Johns, Eastern, Gaines relative to their rankings/reputation. On other hand, Donnie has certainly been better than 114 IMO.

I saw Eastern live over the weekend with his high school team. If he’s allowed to play PG (he’s a legit PG, and this coming from someone who almost never believes the stories about 6’6" high school PGs), there’s a definite Darius Morris vibe going–great passer, great vision, good handle, good athlete, horrendous looking shooter (worse than Darius by a fair piece, and that’s saying something). He doesn’t shoot/score enough to play elsewhere, but he could be a good college PG.

Gaines is intriguing. He doesn’t look the part–he seems like a very undersized 4–but the numbers and efficiency are top 15 on a mediocre team and that’s hard to ignore. I’ve seen him listed as everything from 6’4" 180 to 6’5" 225; if it’s closer to the latter, that could make him a poor man’s Brendon Dawson.

One question about Cain (without asking you to reveal confidences)–it seems, reading tea leaves, that both Mathews and Cain may have Michigan and Xavier out front at this time. Personally, I’d take both in a heartbeat (they’re in different classes, and have some different attributes–Cain is, of course, a much better shooter, while Matthews seems better attacking off the bounce and appears to have a bit more lateral quickness), but I’m wondering if this could be a one to one school and one to the other situation (i.e., Matthews commits somewhere and Cain goes to the other). Does that seem right?

I find your last question fascinating. I wonder if, given the choice of 1 versus the other, who Beilein would prefer. Is taking Matthews forcing us to not get Cain and if so, is that the better of the two players? Is there a way to make a poll on the forum? I would be curious what the preference on this board would be if it were one or the other

It is interesting – how do Michigan and Xavier address this with Matthews on the visit? Since Xavier will get the last word, I hope Michigan preps him for any false claims that Xavier may make about his role or priority level (they no doubt have a good strategy for trashing us seeing how many recruits we compete for, starting with last year’s head-to-head game film). Personally, I think you take both, though since Matthews is first up with just one other suitor, I think getting him should be the first, unambiguous priority. (If forced to choose, I’d probably take Matthews due to his proven ball handling and defense but let me reiterate I really, really like both.)

What recruiting competition have we had with Xavier? Bluiett went there after we pulled out of the recruitment and after he had committed to and then de-committed from UCLA, but before that, Xavier wasn’t in his final 7 prior to the UCLA commitment. We didn’t offer Reynolds (grades) or Sumner. They only kid we got last year out of Ohio that they offered was Simpson, and they weren’t in his final group; the only kid we offered who’s in their class was Goodin, but he was never a major priority for Michigan.

If we had an absolute choice–we pick the one we want most and the other immediately goes to Xavier–I’d probably, by a narrow margin, choose Cain because he’d have an extra year, he’s a Michigan kid playing for an AAU program we should get kids from, and his shooting ability gives us some extra flexibility in filling out the next two classes. However, it’s very close (others may disagree and very reasonably so), and moreover, I don’t think that will be the choice, in part because I think Matthews will decide well before Cain does. I’d go hard after Matthews and take his commitment in the blink of an eye–we might get both, and if we get Matthews, we’ve guaranteed at least one. When two kids are not close, there are good reasons to wait on the better kid. When they’re really close (and obviously, when many think the alternative is as good as or better than the original), there aren’t those kind of reasons. That’s what we did on Winston last year (waited when the alternatives were guys like Lucas and Aiken, pulled the trigger when Simpson became the alternative).

Excellent point here - when I’ve viewed Eastern he’s played off ball and has looked pretty rough in that role, as Evan Gilyard runs the PG spot.

Gaines - nowhere near explosive enough to be considered a poor mans Dawson IMO, and I do think he’s closer to 225.

Can’t really speak on the Jamal Cain thought process and how Matthews impacts the same for obvious reasons.

Nice highlights! I continue to think he would be a great fit for our system and his game has a lot of similarities to Tim and Glenn. I see a 2-3 player with next level ability if he comes here.

Maybe during the visit beilein suggested he start working on corner 3s due to it being a big part of michigans offense?

No, JB has always known Jamal can shoot. He witnessed him knock down 8 threes in a game vs DEPSA. JB wants to use Jamal in PnR situations as a secondary ball handler similar to THJ/Zak. Told Jamal he wanted him to work on decision making out of PnR sets - that much I can tell you

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I actually like the fact that Gaines is closer to 225–if we go after him (and I’ve heard conflicting reports about that), he strikes me as a guy I’d much rather see as a 4 than as a 3 (or certainly a 2). Yeah, he’s undersized, but if he’s 6’5" and thick, and can get to the basket off the bounce or offensively rebound (and at least one of those things has to be the case for him to have put up the eybl numbers he did), there would be something to work with. I’ll be interested, if you’re at Peach Jam, to hear again after a second look–as I said, the numbers are far from a complete picture, but his are so good in every respect other than shooting the ball from distance that I’m intrigued.

Is there any video of him being a play maker or running pick n roll? I don’t think I’ve seen one.

@MattD thanks for all the contributions the last month or 2. Quick question on Cain. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I see at least similar athleticism to GRIII but it seems Cain can do more athletically with the ball in his hands; i.e, put the ball on the floor at mid court and drive and dunk on people. Didn’t really see GRIII do much of that, was basically a finisher off the catch or 1-2 dribbles. Agree or no?

MHoops - I mean if you’re ok with Gaines, then you have to love Tillman. Donnie is MUCH more skilled

I think Jamal is just as explosive in terms of verticality in relation to GR3 in HS. Jamal is certainly a better shooter than GR3 at the same stage. GR3 displayed decent play making ability in HS, but the comp level wasn’t the best, at least in relation to EYBL. I’ve seen Jamal create separation vs defenders in Iso situations (go back and look at the Storm Classic highlights I posted in April) in ways that GR3 probably couldn’t. But Jamal simply didn’t play on ball in EYBL, so it’s hard for me to gauge without seeing it vs elite comp. My gut tells me Jamal probably has a better handle at the same age though.

Where GR3 is far superior at the same age is strength. Jamal has been knocked off balance when attempting to absorb contact when handling the ball whereas GR3 was much sturdier in that regard.

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I noticed that. I would’ve liked to see Jamal go through the contact on the shooting fouls against him instead of the “fling hands wildly” strategy. GR3 was a legitimately elite player in terms of finishing through contact and in general. That should come when he bulks up.

Might as well knock out 2 birds with 1 stone.

JM - I’ve posted this here before, but his playmaking ability was clearly on display here at the 1:27 and 1:45 marks. Don’t think I ever seen that type of change of direction or vision from GR3 or THJ at the same stage, keep in mind this was 9 months ago:

Oracle - here are the highlights I took from the Storm Classic - look at the :24 second mark - don’t think I recall seeing that type of multiple change of direction combo move from the likes of GR3 or THJ in HS

I guess what I’m trying to say is, the ability is there, just didn’t have a chance to show it in EYBL.