Michigan Basketball Eyeing Jaden Bradley, Other Top 2022 Prospects

Eric Rutter

Once June 15 rolls around each year, college basketball coaches are allowed to contact rising junior prospects, and Michigan basketball's Juwan Howard took advantage of that new recruiting development. Though Howard did not extend any new offers on that day, the staff reached out to several top prospects, such as Grand Blanc (Mich.) High four-star small forward Ty Rodgers and Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy five-star point guard Jaden Bradley.

Michigan looking local in 2022

For Rodgers, who is one of the top in-state prospects in a strong 2022 crop of players, Michigan extended his offer on June 1, which was a big event for the 6-5, 180-pounder as he has been attending U-M basketball games for years. Once the contact period for '22 recruits opened up, Rodgers heard from Michigan assistant Saddi Washington.

Michigan is also fortunate to have the top player in the nation in its own backyard in Ypsilanti (Mich.) Lincoln five-star small forward Emoni Bates. Ranked as the consensus No. 1 player overall, Bates picked up his Michigan offer almost a year ago. By that time, Bates was already considered a potential one-and-done player in college, and he's long considered jumping straight to the NBA if the option were to present itself. However, Michigan State has worked to make a compelling pitch to the high impact prospect, and the five-star recruit actually issued his commitment to MSU earlier today. Now, it will be important to track whether his future runs through the college ranks or if he jumps straight to the pros-- be it the NBA, the G League or overseas.

Elsewhere in the state, Michigan has made an effort to convince Clarkston (Mich.) High shooting Fletcher Loyer, the brother of current MSU guard Foster Loyer, that he should play college basketball in Ann Arbor. Though a strong connection to the Spartans' program exists, Michigan is intrigued by the younger Loyer's accurate shot and ability to get to the rim.

IMG Academy also a basketball powerhouse

While Michigan has experienced a high level of success recruiting members of the IMG Academy football team, the school's basketball squad is loaded with talented prospects as well, and Coach Howard is making it clear that U-M would like to land several of those recruits too. While Bradley heard from Michigan at the very start of the 2022 contact period, the Wolverines have also issued a scholarship to IMG five-star Jarace Walker. According to Rivals, Walker is a 6-6, 220-pound small forward who looks poised to grow a bit more before reaching the college level. Walker could easily play a bit of the four later on, and he has the skills required to play a lot of minutes on the wing at the three as well. Walker is ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the '22 cycle, so Michigan is going to outwork a host of blue blood programs for his pledge.

Though a good problem to have, IMG will have a heated competition for minutes at small forward as Michigan target Eric Dailey also projects to the three given his 6-6, 210-pound frame. Michigan offered Dailey last December as it was already apparent by then that he possessed a relatively complete offensive game with an outside jumper, a refined spin or pivot move and the ability to create shots off the dribble.

Michigan keying in on another Dallas (Texas ) St. Mark's player

With a firm focus on five-star Harrison Ingram in 2021, Michigan is looking at one of his teammates, Colin Smith, as well. Right on June 15, the Wolverines made contact with Smith, and that interest turned into an offer for the four-star small forward within a week's time. Smith has made multiple visits to Ann Arbor already, but the highly touted prospect mentioned that he's actively planning on making a fourth trip to Michigan's campus once the recruiting dead period is lifted.

“There are some that we want to take a look at that we haven't had a chance to,” Smith told Wolverine Digest. “Actually, even though we've been there a couple times, Michigan is one because we want to see what it is like for the other sports, like football. When we came out the last time, they wanted us to come back and see what it would be like. The staff really likes when players come for the football season because they can spend more quality time with you, whereas in basketball they are scrambling, maybe having to go to another event or get prepared for the next game.”

Coach Howard told Smith that he didn't want to “overdo” it with contact since he himself was a national recruit in high school, but Smith has spoken favorably about each Howard's style and each interaction they've had. Another visit to Michigan would certainly bode well for the Wolverines, and Smith is one player to monitor closely in the '22 cycle

Which players do you think the Wolverines have the best shot to land in 2022? Will Michigan take any in-state prospects in that cycle? Which positions are of the most need for U-M? Let us know!