Trey Zeigler said it was "definitely a possibility" that he and Country Day star Ray McCallum might play together in college. (Jim Cheek) )
Last year the AAU circuit proved to be a launching pad for the recruitment of Mt. Pleasant shooting guard Trey Zeigler. His highlight performance came during a five-game scoring explosion in a July tournament in Las Vegas.
On the heels of that impressive display, the 6-foot-5, 195-pound junior saw a number of schools step forward with scholarship offers. Now that AAU action is ramping up again, Zeigler could see the temperature in his recruitment rise even more.
Many scouts are expecting this versatile youngster to have an even bigger AAU showing in 2009 thanks to the addition of a number of talented players to his club, Team Detroit. As is currently the case on his high school squad, Zeigler was previously the most talented player by a substantial margin on his AAU team. Because of that, he had grown accustomed to having to do everything on the floor.
The upside is it allowed him to showcase his all-around game and fill up the stat sheet in multiple categories. The downside was he was often limited by the extra attention teams were able to dedicate to stopping him.
That's no longer a problem now that he is flanked by college prospects such as Detroit Country Day point guard Ray McCallum; combo guard Brandan Kearney and power forward Percy Gibson of Detroit Southeastern; former Flint Central small forward Keenan Coleman; and Utica Eisenhower big man Corey Petros.
At last weekend's Pittsburgh Jam Fest, the newly accented Zeigler didn't disappoint.
"We just got a glimpse (Friday) night, but on Saturday we caught the full package," Scout.com basketball recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said. "Zeigler has the tools to score it in a variety of ways. His stroke from long range is solid, but he's also a guy that likes to attack the rim off the bounce and pull up for jumpers, or try and finish at the tin. A solid athlete with a well-built frame, Zeigler will likely become a priority recruit for many (schools) as the summer approaches."
For in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State, Zeigler already is a priority and has been for quite some time. Though he also holds offers from Providence, Arizona State, LSU, Dayton and Miami, he has noticed a clear distinction between how heavily he has been courted by his in-state and out-of-state suitors.
"You've got to say the in-state schools are harder on me than anybody else because they're always around," he explained. "Outside of the in-state schools, probably Arizona State (is recruiting the hardest)."
John Beilein and Tom Izzo have both been effective in describing roles that Zeigler finds attractive. At Michigan he could be Beilein's first marquee in-state recruit and the catalyst that helps the Wolverines turn the corner in their resurgence. At Michigan State he could become another cog in a well-oiled wheel that has rolled every four-year player into the Final Four.
There have been moments where each situation has appeared more desirable than the other, which is why Zeigler has been so careful in maintaining a poker face throughout his recruitment. It also explains why he laughed off rumors that he was cheering and chanting for the Spartans during the only matchup between the schools last season.
"Nah, I wasn't doing that," he said firmly. "I was trying to stay neutral. That's what I was trying to do. I wasn't doing any rooting for either team."
After watching both in-state programs closely, one thing Zeigler does admit to is finding both programs even more appealing.
"I think it speaks volumes about the (Michigan) coaching staff -- what they've been able to do," Zeigler remarked. "To go from not making the NCAA Tournament since '98 -- for them to step in and get through and be in the Tournament, I think that says a lot."
He added: "And it was a nice run Michigan State had. I wasn't expecting them to get that far. They have been talking about (their run to the title game). It was great what they were able to accomplish, and I was really impressed."
As much as the Spartans and Wolverines would like for Zeigler's recruitment to be a two-horse race, he very clearly notes that it's not. With the college basketball season in the books, his other suitors now have the opportunity to chip away at the recruiting advantage that proximity afforded Michigan and Michigan State. Not surprisingly, they are wasting little time.
Reported Zeigler, "This week we've got Arizona State, LSU, Providence, Dayton and Miami (coming to Mt. Pleasant)."
Texas and Kansas also are showing a great deal of interest in the four-star prospect, and as Daniels indicated, the list could grow even more in the coming months. So, too, could the number of prospects trying to convince Zeigler to attend the same school as them.
"Usually when we hang out or I'm around guys, there is always that kind of talk," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if this spring and summer I get a lot of that."
One of the youngsters that Zeigler has already discussed the topic with is good friend and fellow blue-chip prospect, Ray McCallum.
"We're real close," Zeigler said regarding his relationship with the Detroit Country Day star. "We've been knowing each other since we were younger. We hung out a lot (last) summer. I've stayed at his house a couple of times this year. We've been in contact with a lot of the same schools. (Attending the same school) is definitely a possibility."
Oklahoma, Miami, LSU, Kansas, Michigan and Michigan State are the schools showing interest in the duo, but only Miami and Michigan have offered scholarships to both. Kansas' strong position with McCallum has led many pundits to speculate that the Jayhawks would be the favorite to secure the two as a tandem.
For Zeigler's part, all that is known is that he will focus on what's best for him. That means continuing a weeding-out process that probably won't conclude for at least another four or five months.
"Basically (the decision timeline) is the same," he said. "The end of the summer/(early) fall. I'm going to take my visits and see what's out there and what people have to offer for me."
Sam Webb is managing editor of GoBlueWolverine magazine and GoBlueWolverine.com, and co-host of the "Michigan Insider" morning show weekdays on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA. His column appears every Thursday.