It turns out that a two-loss road trip didn’t make for an entirely bad week for the Michigan basketball team after all.

That’s because Michigan coach Tommy Amaker unexpectedly received the commitment of Detroit Renaissance High School junior Joe Crawford to play for the Wolverines last Thursday night.

Crawford, a 6-foot-4 swingman, joins Romulus’ Ronald Coleman as the two current members of Michigan’s class for 2004-05.

“I like the style of play, and I like Tommy Amaker,” Crawford told the Detroit Free Press. “I like the academics, too, it’s kind of like Renaissance.”

Recruiting analyst Clark Francis of HoopScoop, believes Amaker has landed a gem in Crawford.

“He’s a very talented player – he’s a top-50 player nationally,” Francis said. “People have asked how the NCAA investigation has affected (Michigan’s) recruiting, and it hasn’t at all.”

Crawford emerged as one of the country’s best players last season when he averaged 22 points per game in leading Detroit Renaissance to the Class B semifinals.

The junior continued his rapid rise as a teammate of Coleman on the AAU team The Family – the team for which current Wolverines Lester Abram and Graham Brown played together – when he led them to the AAU State Championship. Crawford posted a spectacular 29-point, 11-rebound, 6-assist outing in capturing the AAU 16-and-under state championship.

Crawford is averaging 26 points per game for Detroit Renaissance this year, and chose Michigan over Missouri, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

“Ohio State thought that they had a great shot to get him,” Francis said. “It’s a testament to Michigan that they have so many guards and wing players and they got him.”

Analyst Vince Baldwin of Prepspotlight.com also is very high on Crawford, ranking him as the No. 2 shooting guard for the 2004 class nationally and No. 20 overall. Baldwin was impressed with Crawford during the AAU season, and noted the swingman’s ability to throw down “Vince Carter-like dunks.”

Michigan has already received national attention for the recruiting class currently signed for next year comprised of three top-100 players -guard Dion Harris of Detroit, forward Brent Petway of Georgia and center Courtney Sims of Massachusetts.

Coleman and Crawford’s commitments for 2004-05 mean that this year’s recent run of success for the Wolverines could be just a brief glimpse of some incredible things to come.

“I think (all of the recruits) will complement one another well,” said Francis of Michigan’s next two classes. “It’s a lot of wing players, but that’s a pretty good situation.

“The one thing Michigan’s going to need at this point is another point guard.”

With the commitment of Crawford, Amaker is left with one scholarship available for the class of 2004.

That needed point guard could fill the final scholarship, and could come from a familiar place, as Michigan is courting current Wolverine Daniel Horton’s brother, point guard Jason Horton. The younger Horton is in high demand around the country, and Michigan will be in contention for him with schools such as Duke, Arizona and North Carolina.

Michigan is also in the running for yet another swingman from Detroit Renaissance, 6-foot-6 Malik Hairston.

“Will they get Jason Horton? Well, it’s going to be a war,” said Francis of the excitement of the next Horton recruit. “But even if they don’t sign another player for the next two years, they’re in great shape.”

There’s little doubt – barring the pending NCAA decision on any further penalties against the Michigan program – that another big-name recruit would only further add to what is already shaping up to be a very exciting Michigan team for the next few years.

“Michigan should be in the tournament this year, and I’d be surprised if Michigan wasn’t in the tournament next year,” Francis said. “They could be Final Four, final eight, final 16 in a year – that’s how good I think Michigan could be.”

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