The early signing period for the basketball class of 2012 began Wednesday, and for the first time in a while, Michigan has one of the elite classes in the nation.
The Wolverines landed a consensus top-10 class in the country, ranked as high as No. 4 by Rivals.com and No. 6 by ESPN.com. Power forward/center Mitch McGary — who committed to great fanfare last Thursday — and forward Glenn “Tre” Robinson III faxed in their National Letters of Intent to Michigan on Wednesday. Guard Nick Stauskas is expected to send his on Friday.
It’s the program’s best class since the 1999 group of LaVell Blanchard, Jamal Crawford, Kevin Gaines, Gavin Groninger and Leland Anderson arrived in Ann Arbor.
“It’s a top-10 class in the country (to Scout.com), so obviously that signifies that it’s one of the best around,” said Scout.com recruiting analyst Brian Snow. “Mitch McGary (is) one of the premier players. You got Glenn Robinson, who’s one of the best athletes and someone who’s really on the upswing with his game, and then also Nick Stauskas, a big-time shooter.
“You combine all three of them, it’s a heck of a class for (Michigan coach) John Beilein.”
It’s the best class Beilein has landed in his coaching career. Beilein’s never had a reputation as a great recruiter. Many were uneasy about his ability to land top talent when he was named Michigan’s coach in 2007. In the past, Beilein had signed more unknown, low-rated recruits who seemed to fit his offensive system.
But he did sign Darius Morris in 2009, who was ranked No. 77 by Rivals.com, and sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz in 2010, ranked No. 59. This class especially breaks the mold and helps ease the concerns about Beilein’s recruiting ability.
“If someone asked you before (this class) if they’d be beating out North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky for kids, you would’ve looked at him like he was crazy,” Snow said. “For me, it’s really a pleasant surprise for Michigan fans that Beilein is recruiting at such a high level because he’s proven throughout his head coaching career that he can ‘X’ and ‘O’ with the best of them, and he’s one of the best in-game coaches in the country.”
The crown jewel of the group is McGary, a consensus top-5 recruit.
“Mitch possesses a unique blend of size and skill with a motor to run, rebound and compete, which will serve him well at this level of college basketball,” Beilein said in a statement. “Mitch loves the University of Michigan and loves playing basketball and will bring energy and enthusiasm to our team.”
But the other two recruits are no afterthoughts. Robinson III — the son of former Purdue and NBA star Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson — is ranked No. 34 by Rivals.com. Like his father, he’s an explosive athlete, but also has the ability to hit outside shots. With his ability to finish above the rim, the 6-foot-6 Robinson could be the Wolverines’ best dunker as soon as he steps on the court next fall, and Snow said he’s a potential McDonald’s All-American.
“The combination of (Robinson’s) explosiveness and unselfishness, along with his expanding skill set, makes him a perfect fit for Michigan Basketball,” Beilein said.
Stauskas is more of a traditional Beilein player, as he’s known as one of the best outside shooters in the class of 2012. But the Canadian — who attends St. Mark’s prep school in Southborough, Mass. — also is athletic for his 6-foot-5 frame, and can get into the lane.
Snow said that all three can earn immediate playing time next year and said McGary would immediately be Michigan’s best player. Stauskas seems to be a perfect fit for a role similar to senior guard Stu Douglass’s, and with Robinson III’s explosive athleticism, he should be an asset off the bench.
Combined, the class of 2012 adds to a Michigan team that should again be highly ranked when the three recruits step onto campus next year.
“You have to say this is an excellent class for (Michigan),” Snow said. “Michigan fans, Michigan coaches, (and) Michigan players all have to be thrilled with what’s coming to Ann Arbor.”
Having already secured four verbal commitments for 2013, it appears the Wolverines are already done recruiting for that class. That means that Beilein and his staff can already begin to concentrate on players in the class of 2014.