'Personal, genuine' approach helps Michigan basketball reel in three-star Will Tschetter

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Will Tschetter initially had a different timeline in mind.

The under-the-radar recruit who lives on a farm in southeast Minnesota was going to play in the first two live periods in April before sitting down, sifting through his offers and making his college decision. At least, that was until things started to change.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the widespread cancellation of AAU events, the NCAA implementing a ban on in-person recruiting, and college coaches relying more on film to evaluate talent. With everybody sidelined through the spring, Tschetter’s coaches identified schools where the high-scoring forward would fit in and started reaching out.

Will Tschetter, a three-star forward, is the second member of Michigan's 2021 recruiting class.

Little by little, more programs started to take notice of his tape and the interest grew. By the first week of June, Tschetter — who had one Division II offer a year ago and a bunch of mid-major offers in April — received offers from high-major schools like Arkansas, Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska. By the end of June, he rose to No. 149 in the 247Sports composite rankings.

Even though it was a “cool experience” just to have power conference programs reach out to him, Tschetter (pronounced “cheddar”) still wanted to wrap up his recruitment before the basketball season started.

“But if I feel it (with a school) any time before then,” he said, “than that would be the right time.”

For Tschetter, that time came Sunday when he committed to Michigan and became the second member of the Wolverines’ 2021 recruiting class — just 34 days after he received an offer from coach Juwan Howard.

Since Tschetter doesn’t use social media because it’s "noise that sometimes can get overwhelming,” his pledge was announced Monday morning via his high school team’s Twitter account.

According to Tschetter, assistant coach Phil Martelli first reached out around the time the COVID-19 outbreak began in March. The Wolverines saw some of his clips from the past season when the 6-foot-8, 225-pounder put up eye-popping numbers. He averaged a state-high 33.6 points while shooting 60% from the field and 45% on 3-pointers as a junior at Stewartville High, which competes in Minnesota’s Class AA division. He also averaged over 20 points per game with the Minnesota Heat, an AAU team that doesn’t play in the national shoe-sponsored circuits.

More: New Michigan basketball commit Will Tschetter has 'gift for scoring'

Martelli requested more game film from Tschetter’s coaches to make sure what they were seeing wasn’t just a highlight reel. A week later, Martelli called back to set up a Zoom call with Michigan’s coaching staff.

From there, Tschetter had a series of virtual meetings with the Wolverines. There was a virtual tour of the facilities, a film breakdown of how he’d fit with the team — “a hybrid three-four player who can shoot, dribble and play down low,” Tschetter said — and a session focusing on the program’s player development.

During the last Zoom call on June 1, Howard offered Tschetter.

“Compared to a lot of schools where you might hear from the head coach only one time or maybe there's just one assistant who's in charge of recruiting Will as opposed to the whole staff, (Michigan) did an unbelievable job of being organized and communicating,” Heat program director and coach Willie Vang told The Detroit News. “Each day after those Zooms, Coach Martelli would check and ask if there were any questions that they didn't get to. I was just really impressed by all of that. That can be pretty rare in today's recruiting world.

“I mean, there are some schools that offer and you don't hear from them for two weeks. Michigan was really organized and consistently checking in. I know to him that meant a lot.”

With that approach, it didn’t take long for Michigan to jump up Tschetter’s list.

Tschetter noted the entire staff was "personal and genuine" and he developed a relationship with Howard and Martelli “a little bit faster and more natural" than some of the other coaches. And as someone who carries a 3.9 grade-point average, he also was drawn to Michigan’s academics.

But despite all the boxes that Michigan checked, Tschetter had a short list of suitors that he had trouble separating from one another.

“I couldn't make up my mind,” Tschetter told The News. “I had seen all the other schools that I was hoping to potentially go to. I had seen all their campuses and I hadn't been on Michigan's. I had this idea of Michigan in the back of my head and what it could be. I just decided why not go out there?”

So Tschetter and his mom, Kasey Morlock, who was a three-time All-American basketball player at North Dakota State, did just that. They packed up the car and made the eight-hour drive from their farm in rural Minnesota to Ann Arbor for a Fourth of July road trip.

Due to NCAA-imposed dead period, Tschetter couldn’t take an official visit where all the expenses, like transportation, meals and lodging, would be paid for by the school. He also wasn’t allowed to meet with Michigan’s coaching staff or enter any of the facilities.

Still, he was able to take in the sights and get a feel for Michigan’s campus. Tschetter and his mom spent Saturday night exploring the downtown area and grabbing dinner. They spent Sunday morning taking a tour of the campus that was guided by Martelli via FaceTime.

And when they wrapped up their visit, Tschetter had seen all he needed to see and was ready to pull the trigger — regardless of how his timeline had changed.

“I feel like coaching staff wise I really connected with them," Tschetter said. "And with so much uncertainty (due to COVID-19), having that sense of security with Michigan as well as the culture and program that they've had for so many years, I felt like it was the perfect fit for me.”


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins