Jalen Wilson seeks release from letter of intent to Michigan; Cole Bajema 'sitting tight'
The hits keep coming for the Michigan basketball program.
Top-ranked signee Jalen Wilson has asked to be released from his national letter of intent and will look to re-open his recruitment, he announced on Twitter on Thursday.
The news comes three days after former coach John Beilein left Michigan for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
“First, I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to join the Michigan family last May,” Wilson tweeted. “I would also like to thank the coaching staff and the City (of) Ann Arbor for showing an unbelievable amount of love and support. Due to the sudden head coaching change, I have requested my release from The University of Michigan, and will re-open my recruitment.”
Wilson, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward who averaged 18.1 points and 7.5 rebounds this past season at Denton (Texas) Guyer, is ranked the nation’s No. 50 prospect in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. Dating back to 2000, he ranked No. 11 among Michigan's highest-rated recruits.
Wilson committed to Michigan last May when he picked the Wolverines over Baylor, Kansas, Marquette, Oklahoma State and UCLA, and signed his LOI on the first day of the early signing period in November.
Wilson told the Denton Record-Chronicle earlier this week that he was “shocked” by Beilein’s exit on Monday but didn’t want “to make any moves quite yet” as Michigan searched for its next head coach.
After taking a few days to digest the news, Wilson made his move and will become a hot commodity on the market. However, it appears there's a chance he could still end up in Ann Arbor next season.
“I’m always considering (Michigan),” Wilson told The Michigan Daily. “I just had to do this to look at the bigger picture as a backup plan. I can’t rely on someone if I don’t know they’re gonna be there or not.
“The (assistant) coaches all understood everything I’ve done and they’re all understanding and they all see where I’m coming from. That’s what I love — they’re all supportive. I could never ask for a better coaching staff to help me through the summer.”
In order to re-open his commitment and be recruited by other schools, Wilson must be granted his release by Michigan since an LOI is signed with an institution, not with a coach or specific team. If Michigan doesn’t grant Wilson his release, he would have to sit out a year at another Division I program.
Michigan did not immediately return a request seeking comment.
Wilson’s decision leaves Michigan with just one player for its 2019 class: Lynden (Wash.) Christian four-star combo guard Cole Bajema, who remains committed to the Wolverines.
"(Bajema) hasn't wavered from that at all," Don Brady, Bajema's AAU coach, told The Detroit News. "He's definitely waiting to see what happens. I think part of it was just getting over the initial shock and now he's just sitting tight to see the next step."
Brady added he and Lynden Christian coach Roger DeBoer have heard from roughly 10 schools who have expressed interest in Bajema following Beilein's departure.
"The big thing is (Bajema's family) wants to make sure whoever is hired has the same plans and thoughts for Cole that Coach Beilein had," Brady said. "I think that's the big thought right now that they kind of want to wait and see."
As it stands, Michigan has one available scholarship for 2019-20 with Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole both pursuing pro careers. Wilson’s potential departure coupled with Ignas Brazdeikis' looming NBA Draft decision could leave the Wolverines with three open roster spots.