Five-star guard Joshua Christopher spurns Michigan, picks Arizona State

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

The good news is the wait is finally over.

The bad news is Joshua Christopher, a five-star guard from Lakewood, California, won’t be coming to Ann Arbor next season.

The top-10 prospect and likely one-and-done talent put an end to his long, suspenseful recruitment when he announced late Monday night he will be heading to Arizona State, where he will join his brother Caleb.

Christopher committed to the Sun Devils over Michigan, Missouri, UCLA and USC in a video posted on Twitter and Instagram.

Joshua Christopher is ranked the nation’s No. 7 overall recruit by 247Sports, No. 10 by ESPN and No. 11 by Rivals.

"The recruiting process has been one of the most exciting, interesting and stressful times of my life,” Christopher said in the video.

"Sometimes I get mad at myself for picking such good schools, but I know next year I can only choose one. The next step of my life I’ll be moving to Tempe and going to ASU."

The announcement is a blow to Michigan. The Wolverines were viewed as the front-runner to land Christopher, who would’ve been the final — and arguably biggest — piece to the team’s 2020-21 puzzle. He also would’ve been the crown jewel of Michigan’s recruiting class and the program’s highest-rated commit in the recruiting sites era, which started around 2000.

Christopher (6-foot-5, 218 pounds) is ranked the No. 3 shooting guard and No. 10 overall recruit in the nation, per the 247Sports composite. He was the first recruit to receive an offer from coach Juwan Howard back in June and for good reason.

He put up eye-popping numbers his senior year at Mayfair High, averaging 29.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 49% from the field (33% from 3-point range) over 29 games. He was selected as a McDonald’s All-American and is already projected to be a late first-round pick in ESPN’s 2021 NBA mock draft.

Over the last week, it appeared all the dominoes were falling into place as the Wolverines made room for Christopher on the roster. Guard David DeJulius and forward Colin Castleton both entered the transfer portal and incoming freshman Jace Howard, Juwan’s son, reportedly opted to join the team as a walk-on, which freed up a spot.

Instead, Christopher’s decision will leave that space open and leave the Wolverines without something they lacked last season: a high-level backcourt scorer who can get buckets when everything breaks down.

Still, Michigan has its share of options to plug in at the two, where Christopher would've played a major role. Senior-to-be Eli Brooks held that spot in the starting lineup last season and could do so again with the addition of graduate transfer point guard Mike Smith. Returners Adrien Nunez and Cole Bajema can also both play in the backcourt and incoming freshman Zeb Jackson will likely spend most of his time off the ball.

Despite missing out on Christopher, Michigan’s 2020 class remains No. 4 in the nation behind Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina, per 247Sports. The group includes signee Jackson, a four-star guard, as well as commits Isaiah Todd, a five-star forward; Hunter Dickinson, a four-star center; and Terrance Williams, a four-star forward.

Michigan’s haul features four of the program’s top 20 all-time recruits since 2000 in Todd (first; No. 13 in nation), Dickinson (eighth; No. 32 in nation), Jackson (15th; No. 69 in nation) and Williams (19th; No. 85 in nation) in 247Sports’ rankings.

The Wolverines could still make an addition for 2020-21 with their one available scholarship. However, making a big splash likely won't happen. They are among five finalists for five-star forward Greg Brown, but Texas is the likely destination for the Austin native. On top of that, most of the top graduate transfers who would be immediately eligible next season are already off the board.

Michigan’s unsigned recruits — Todd, Dickinson and Williams — will be able to make their commitments official when the regular signing period starts on Wednesday.

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins