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Where Michigan stands with top basketball recruiting targets

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Michigan coach Juwan Howard has already put together a solid foundation for his 2021 recruiting class.

The Wolverines have landed pledges from Kobe Bufkin, a 6-foot-4 guard from Grand Rapids; Isaiah Barnes, a 6-7 wing from Illinois; and Will Tschetter, a 6-8 stretch forward from Minnesota, this summer.

The three commitments help address some perimeter needs, with forward Isaiah Livers entering his senior year and the possibility wing Franz Wagner could pursue a professional career after his sophomore season.

Harrison Ingram

As it stands, Michigan has at least two available scholarships remaining for the 2021-22 season. That number would increase if transfer Chaundee Brown, who has one year of eligibility left, isn’t granted a waiver to play immediately this season. It could also grow based on roster attrition, such as transfers or early departures, following the 2020-21 campaign.

Given center Austin Davis and guards Eli Brooks and Mike Smith all have one season of eligibility left, Michigan is likely to be on the hunt to add a ball-handling guard and big man to its 2021 class. 

With that said, here’s a look at some top 2021 targets who are still on Michigan’s radar.

Harrison Ingram

The 6-6 wing from Texas put Michigan in his top six schools on Saturday, a list that includes Harvard, Howard, North Carolina, Purdue and Stanford. However, the Boilermakers and Cardinal appear to be in the best position to land the versatile top-15 recruit. Both programs have been involved for a while and Ingram has taken multiple trips to Purdue and Stanford over the past year. While Ingram didn’t put a timeline on when he plans to make his college decision, the current ban on in-person recruiting and official visits — which is in effect through Aug. 31 — puts Michigan at a disadvantage in the race.

Jalen Warley

Jalen Warley

Another five-star prospect, Warley is a 6-4 combo guard who can play off the ball and serve as a team’s primary ball-handler. The top-25 recruit from Pennsylvania is at the top of Michigan’s guard wish list and would be a major backcourt addition. The Wolverines are one of the 10 schools in the running and Michigan has made a hard push led by assistant coach Phil Martelli, who coached Warley’s father and uncle at St. Joe’s. Despite not taking an official visit to any of his finalists, Warley will announce his college decision at 1 p.m. Sunday. Florida State, Michigan and Virginia are viewed as the top choices, with the Seminoles gaining steam as the front-runner.

Jaden Akins

Jaden Akins

The 6-3 point guard from Farmington is ranked the second-best prospect in the state of Michigan and was a second-team Division 1 all-state selection by The Detroit News last season. His top-six list consists of DePaul, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Mississippi State. The Spartans, though, have been trending as the favorite to land the four-star recruit well before he unveiled his finalists two weeks ago. Akins will play his senior season at Ypsilanti Prep Academy alongside 2022 Michigan State commit Emoni Bates.

Carter Whitt

Michigan recently expanded its recruiting board at the point guard spot and offered the 6-3 prospect from North Carolina last week. He’s ranked the No. 11 point guard in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite, and has an offer sheet that features Alabama, Boston College, Indiana, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, among others. Whitt is regarded as a pass-first point guard who has excellent court vision and facilitating skills, and he’s transferring to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire for his senior season, which should aid his development. He’s a viable candidate to fill Michigan’s need for a lead guard and the Wolverines could crank up their pursuit based on Warley’s decision.

Frankie Collins

Collins, a 6-1 guard from Arizona, hasn’t received a reported offer from Michigan, but he clearly has strong interest in the Wolverines. He listed Michigan in his top eight schools last month, along with Arizona State, Auburn, Georgetown, Kansas, New Mexico, USC and Vanderbilt. It’s a situation worth monitoring, and Collins could serve as a backup option if things fall through with Michigan’s other targets. He’s ranked the No. 57 recruit and No. 9 point guard in the 2021 class by the 247Sports composite.

Efton Reid

Efton Reid

The 7-footer is being pursued by a bunch of ACC and Big Ten schools and has already taken official visits to Louisville, Ohio State and Virginia. Even though Reid hasn’t released any sort of top 10 or given any indication who his top schools are, Rivals listed Michigan as the team to beat for his commitment. It also helps that the five-star prospect already has experience playing with Michigan freshmen Terrance Williams and Hunter Dickinson, who were all on the same AAU squad last year. Reid considered reclassifying to 2020 this summer before opting to make the move from Virginia to Florida to spend his senior season at IMG Academy, where he’ll team with several elite big men.

Charles Bediako

Like Reid, Bediako will be transferring and finishing his prep career at IMG Academy. The 6-11 big from Canada is mobile, athletic and has plenty of ability as a low-post scorer and shot blocker. He cut his recruitment down to 10 schools a month ago and several Big Ten programs made his final list, including Maryland, Michigan and Ohio State. However, the top-20 recruit hasn’t taken an official visit to any of his finalists. While Alabama and Duke reportedly have an edge in Bediako’s recruitment, he could be intrigued at the idea of working with a former NBA big man like Howard to expand his game.

Chet Holmgren

One of the top talents in the 2021 class, the 7-footer from Minnesota is an impact player at both ends of the floor. He released a top seven in late June that featured Georgetown, Gonzaga, Memphis, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio State, but the Wolverines appear to have long odds in the sweepstakes. Holmgren has taken official visits to Ohio State and Gonzaga, where his former high school and AAU teammate Jalen Suggs is a freshman. He has also taken numerous trips to hometown school Minnesota, where his father, Dave, played from 1984-88.

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins