On Monday night, Juwan Howard’s first recruiting class had the chance to come full circle with the addition of five-star guard Josh Christopher.

But as it turns out, Christopher had other ideas. The 10th-ranked recruit in the 247Sports composite rankings, he spurned Michigan — the perceived leader in his recruitment — when he announced his commitment to Arizona State via Twitter.

He would’ve been Michigan’s highest-ranked recruit since LaVell Blanchard, the No. 6 overall prospect in the class of 1999. 

From the Wolverines’ side, Christopher’s formal commitment punctuates a lengthy recruitment that began only a week after Howard was introduced as the new Michigan men’s basketball coach last May. While UCLA was initially viewed as the team to beat in his recruitment, multiple reports claimed the sweepstakes ultimately evolved into a two-horse race between the Wolverines and Arizona State.

In January, recruiting analysts began identifying Michigan as the leader, and eleven consecutive Crystal Ball predictions in the Wolverines’ favor trickled in on 247Sports over the span of six weeks. But 10 months after becoming Howard’s first offer, Christopher is Tempe-bound.

Christopher’s older brother just finished his freshman season at Arizona State, where he played sparingly. Christopher chose the Sun Devils over Michigan, the hometown Bruins and Missouri, where his cousin is the men’s basketball strength and conditioning coach.

Many view Christopher as one of the elite scorers in the 2020 class, but his passing and perimeter defense also stand out from his game tape. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound shooting guard already has a pro-ready body. He likely would’ve been part of Michigan’s starting backcourt next season, and his ability to score at all three levels could’ve provided instant offense.

Even without Christopher’s pledge, the Wolverines boast the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class — their highest-ranked haul since 247Sports’ rankings began two decades ago. The class features five-star power forward Isaiah Todd, four-star center Hunter Dickinson, four-star guard Zeb Jackson, four-star forward Terrance Williams and three-star walk-on forward Jace Howard, Juwan’s son.

With Christopher’s commitment to Arizona State, Michigan has one remaining scholarship available for the 2020-21 season. The Wolverines remain in contention for five-star power forward Greg Brown, who is set to announce his college decision on Apr. 24, though Texas and Auburn are widely considered the favorites in his recruitment.

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