- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Recruiting analysts often discuss key commitments not only for their importance as players, but as extensions of the coach's recruiting effort. See, for example, NC State prospect Torian Graham. When Graham committed to Mark Gottfried's surging Wolfpack program last May, our own Dave Telep noted how important Graham could be in spreading Gottfried's message to other Wolfpack targets, most notably Rodney Purvis. Purvis has since committed to NC State, Gottfried's team is already a favorite to contend for the ACC title, and all is well again in Raleigh. Recruiting a recruiter, so to speak, has its benefits.
But what if other players don't want to be recruited by their peers? We sort of take for granted that this happens -- land the friend, land the target -- but what if injecting friendship into recruiting is counterproductive?
This brings us to Michigan commits Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, childhood friends and AAU teammates, the latter of whom decided not to pressure his buddy into anything regarding his basketball future. Instead, he let McGary -- one of the top big men in the class of 2012 -- make his own decision. As AnnArbor.com's Nick Baumgardner writes, the tact did not go unnoticed:
"I wasn't recruiting him," Robinson said. "We've got too much respect for each other. I didn't need to say anything to him. It wasn't about me."
"That just means you've got a true friend for life," McGary recalls. "He just wanted what was best for me. He wasn't looking out for himself and he could have. He had my best interest in mind and not his, overall. He's a true friend and I've always appreciated that and I always will."
Interestingly enough, Robinson, the son of former Purdue and NBA great Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson*, was long considered the lesser prospect to McGary, who was ranked as high as No. 2 in the class last summer. McGary's stock has since slipped thanks to a less than impressive senior season; he now ranks No. 27 in the ESPNU 100, while Robinson ranks No. 18.
But no matter: Both players will be impact freshmen for the Michigan Wolverines, giving coach John Beilein what his teams have most sorely lacked in recent seasons: interior play. Michigan will need it, too. As Luke Winn wrote in his latest, post-draft-decision power rankings, the typically 3-happy Wolverines are losing three players (Zack Novak, Stu Douglass and Evan Smotrycz) who excelled from the perimeter and adding McGary and Robinson and previously injured forward Jon Horford to the lineup. With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. at the guard spots, Michigan will still be strong on the wing. But how will Beilein recalibrate his attack?
Whatever he does, the bond between the two stars of his incoming class -- one that will see Michigan ranked among the nation's top 10 teams to begin the season, no doubt -- should be a huge benefit to Beilein's chances of incorporating new and returning players into a talented, cohesive whole. You've been warned.
*It is the belief of this college basketball writer that we should immediately begin calling Glenn Robinson III "Little Big Dog," provided he does not express reservations to the contrary. (Constant comparisons to one's father must get grating, after all.) I look forward to the Internet's approval of this idea. Internet?