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Posted on Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Analyst explains why Michigan basketball commit Zak Irvin is now on the verge of five-star status

By Nick Baumgardner

A year ago, current Michigan basketball freshman Glenn Robinson III made a name for himself after a strong summer skyrocketed his national recruiting status.

Robinson followed that up with an impressive senior season, and ended his high school career as a five-star, blue-chip prospect.

A year later, current 2013 Michigan commit Zak Irvin appears to have a shot at repeating that process.


ESPN launched 2013 Michigan basketball commit Zak Irvin all the way up to No. 21 in its recent ranking update. The Wolverines' 2013 crop is now No. 2 overall.

Bloomington Herald-Times

Irvin, 6-foot-6 swingman from Hamilton (Ind.) Southeastern, recently made a massive leap on's Top 100 list -- moving up more than 20 spots to No. 21 overall.

Per ESPN's list, Irvin is the top-rated Michigan pledge for next season (Derrick Walton is No. 32, Mark Donnal is No. 97) and is the third-highest four-star pledge on the list -- putting him on the cusp of the always coveted five-star ranking.


According to ESPN senior national recruiting analyst Dave Telep, Irvin simply wanted it more this summer on the AAU circuit -- enough to convince Telep and his staff to give him a giant status upgrade.

"Zak was a hunter all summer long," Telep told via email Wednesday. "He looked fresh, hungry. He played to his size, looked like he improved his skill. Having said that, we've taken a flier on him.

"I don't think everyone would agree on him this high. We're rolling the dice and monitoring his senior year closely. Obviously we liked what we saw in the summer when compared to his peer group."

Presently, Telep and company see Irvin as the top-rated Big Ten pledge for next season, and the second-best player in the state of Indiana for the 2013 class.

This goes against the grain, to a degree, when compared with the other two main recruiting services ( and, who peg Walton -- a four-star point guard from Chandler Park Academy -- as Michigan's top prospect for next season.

Irvin should also have a chance to shine during the high school season this winter, as he'll likely move into a starring role at Hamilton Southeastern after the graduation of current Michigan State freshman Gary Harris.

Regardless of who ends up being the higher-rated player, Telep says he's sure Michigan has two rock-solid top-50 prospects in both Irvin and Walton.

So much so that he believes both players are in the conversation for the 2013 McDonald's All-American game. If either player earns a selection, it'd be the first bid by a Michigan commit since Daniel Horton made the team in 2002.

"I think they are both on the radar, neither is a lock," Telep wrote. "What you'll find is that opinions will vary from 2-50 and that means the splitting of McDonald's votes. Irvin may have tough sledding at his position while Walton's could be more manageable. It is what it is.

"Sometimes (the McDonald's game) is more of a lifetime achievement award than the best players at that time. Bottom line is the guys are in the conversation."

Last fall, Telep applauded Michigan coach John Beilein and his staff for the positive momentum they gained after snatching prized big man Mitch McGary over the likes of Duke and Florida.

Apparently, that momentum hasn't stopped.

Telep and ESPN currently have Michigan's four-man 2013 class (which also includes Austin Hatch) as the No. 2 group in the country.

In his eyes, Beilein and company have made a name for themselves on the recruiting trail -- one that isn't going anywhere.

"There's a rock solid foundation there," he said. "Michigan continues to do well in its region and broaden its reach. Think back to the day Beilein was hired. The program is so healthy and heading in the right direction.

"There's a foundation and now layers are being put on top of it."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

If he attends Michigan, he will be a Five Star, if not he will remain a Four Star. Just like in Football.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

Irvin is the latest top-talent player that the Michigan staff identified very early before every other program showed any interest. Beilein and his staff have an uncanny ability to identify very talented players who fit Michigan's system early and recruit them before everyone else. Having found Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III, and now Irvin it shows this isn't luck. Apparently, Tom Izzo tried to get in with Irvin after it was too late and the latter told him, "thanks but no thanks"! The tide is turning. But, It's pretty exciting to see the talent level returning to traditional levels at Michigan


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

@Nick - I know Jabari hasn't committed, but a fan can dream, right? haha. I I'm completely on board with having him or any other top recruits coming to the B1G. Based on what you wrote and what else I've heard about Zak, the guy has mass potential. I'd be lying to myself and you if I were to say I wasn't a little jealous of him going to UofM. @Blue - Thanks. Although I guess you could consider me a troll, I promise I'm not here to just spout off nonsense. The MSU threads tend to draw the worst of the worst UofM fans and who never seem to want to have an intelligent discussion. Obviously this works both ways, as I've seen MSU, OSU and others bringing nothing to the discussions on this site. Rivalries are what makes college sports great, no need to spout off like a 5 year old saying "my dad can beat up your dad."

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.


Blue Marker

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

@RocknRolla, Nice to have a fan of another team share opinions without it becoming a spitting match. A rational post with an alternate point of view, how refreshing.

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

RocknRolla, Jabari Parker is the best player in the 2013 class (or at least in the top two/three on everyone's list), and he is considering Michigan State. But he hasn't committed. These rankings will obviously change, but right now, Michigan is No. 2. And Zak Irvin is the highest-rated commit in the Big Ten. That's all I was getting at. Personally, I hope Parker ends up coming to a Big Ten school -- Michigan State or otherwise -- because I'd love to watch him play, even if it's for only one season.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

"10 ten players" should read "Top 10 players"


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

Not sure you and I are seeing the same "tide". MSU is in the top 3 for the #1 prospect to come along in a while, Jabari Parker. Not to mention, there are 2 other 10 ten players in the '13 class strongly considering MSU. I agree that UofM has come a long way as a basketball program, and that the rivalry has been very competitive as of late, but I think it's much too premature to say "the tide is turning."

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

81, Irvin is built from the Hardaway, Robinson mold in terms of size and skill. I'll be willing to be he'll enter the program a bit more polished than Hardaway was when he arrived, though I'm not sure he'll be as explosive athletically as Robinson. Beilein LOVES grabbing those high-level 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 combo guys who can play up to three spots. Looks as though he may have another one.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

YES. So fun having a top tier basketball program again. Great work, Johnny.


Fri, Aug 10, 2012 : 5:47 a.m.

how so? In the NCAA tourney anything can happen. Look at duke, they lost early last season. That being said does that mean they are not a top tier team????

Howard the Duck

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

To be considered a top tier program, you have to advance well beyond the first game in the NCAA tourney. Michigan isn't even close!