Analyst explains why Michigan basketball commit Zak Irvin is now on the verge of five-star status
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.
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 AnnArbor.com 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 (Rivals.com and Scout.com), 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."