It’s always heartwarming to hear of a star basketball recruit opting to play for an unheralded program to help it move toward relevance.
Sometimes, though, that decision doesn’t play out as planned.
On March 14, Central Michigan men’s basketball coach Ernie Zeigler was fired after six seasons with the Chippewas, and his son, sophomore shooting guard Trey Zeigler, was granted a release soon after so he could transfer. Zeigler was a consensus top-100 recruit in high school, and he declined offers from Duke, Michigan State, Michigan and UCLA to play for his father.
But now the recruiting battle is back on after Zeigler averaged over 31 minutes and 15 points per game in each of his first two seasons with Central Michigan. He visited Duke last weekend and ranks the Blue Devils at the top of his list.
“I really liked Duke this past weekend,” Zeigler told The Michigan Daily on Monday. “I got to know Coach K a little bit better and his staff, some of the players. It’s definitely a possible spot for me.”
Zeigler has also spoken with Pittsburgh, UCLA, LSU and Michigan State, and he plans to make some more visits in the coming weeks. Contrary to reports from some online recruiting services, Michigan has not yet reached out to Zeigler.
Michigan’s lack of interest is peculiar because the Wolverine backcourt will lack depth next season, especially with the recent news of freshman combo guard Carlton Brundidge transferring. And Zeigler indicated on Monday that he may be interested if Michigan were to contact him.
“Yeah, Michigan recruited me all the way until the very end,” Zeigler said. “I didn’t make a decision until my senior year. Me and Coach Beilein had a very good relationship, and the assistants, too. So I felt really comfortable the first go-around.
“It would be hard to tell until I talked with Coach Beilein if they do reach out, just because I don’t really know where they fall or what they’re looking for, what they’re planning on doing. All in all, I was very interested in Michigan the first go-around, so I would definitely listen to them and see what’s what.”
The 6-foot-5 guard could provide versatility for Michigan’s lineup. He’s shown an ability to play the one, two or three position over his two college seasons, and he exhibits a physical style of play around the basket.
But there are some question marks in Zeigler’s game that could be keeping Beilein away. Last season, he shied away from taking long-range shots and only converted on 29 percent of his 3-point attempts. That wouldn’t fly well in Beilein’s shoot-happy offense. Free-throw shooting is also a clear weakness, as he finished last season under 50 percent from the line.
Still, Michigan may not be in a position to be picky. If the Wolverines could pluck Zeigler off the market, he could provide depth upon becoming eligible in the 2013-14 season. Zeigler indicated that he will likely petition to be eligible for action in the 2012-13 season, but for now, he is simply focusing on his school decision.
Should Michigan reach out, Zeigler thinks he could fit well in Beilein’s system.
“He spreads the floor,” Zeigler said. “He usually plays four perimeter guys, and it makes guys like me who are more versatile and play more than one spot to do more on offense. I also like (Beilein) as a person — I think he’s a genuine guy. He’s a good guy.”
Zeigler says he’ll likely make his decision by late April.