Five-star Caleb Houstan, No. 8 in 2021 class, commits to Michigan

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

After casting a line for several big fish in the 2021 recruiting cycle, Michigan finally reeled one in.

Caleb Houstan, a five-star forward from Florida prep powerhouse Montverde Academy, committed to the Wolverines on Friday, picking Michigan over Alabama, Duke and Virginia.

"I was down to four great schools but one definitely stood out to me the most," Houstan told ESPN.

Caleb Houstan

Houstan said Michigan coach Juwan Howard’s NBA background — as a player and as an assistant coach with the Miami Heat — as well as the relationship he built with Howard were major factors in his decision.

“He played in the NBA for 19 years and knows what it takes to get there and stay there,” Houstan told ESPN, adding Howard led Michigan’s recruiting efforts.

“I think he can help me — both on and off the court and in preparing to get to the next level. I know he's going to push me every single day in order for me to get better and develop as a player."

The 6-foot-8, 205-pound Canadian product was originally in the 2022 class before he reclassified over the summer. He’s ranked the No. 8 overall prospect in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite, and surpasses Glenn Robinson III as Michigan’s highest-rated recruit in the 247Sports era, which dates to 2003.

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Houstan is regarded as one of the top outside shooters in the class who is efficient off the catch and excels in spot-up situations. He made 52% of his 3-point attempts last season at Montverde, where he was the only non-senior to start on a roster loaded with talented players like Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State) Day’Ron Sharpe (North Carolina), Scottie Barnes (Florida State), Moses Moody (Arkansas) and Zeb Jackson (Michigan).

Houstan has also shined on the international stage. He was the second-leading scorer at the 2019 FIBA U16 Americas Championship, where he averaged 22.8 points in 28.8 minutes to power Canada to a runner-up finish.

With forward Isaiah Livers entering his senior season and sophomore wing Franz Wagner being a potential candidate to leave early for the NBA, there’s an opportunity for Houstan to see significant minutes in Ann Arbor.

"I expect to be a key part of their offense," Houstan told ESPN. "They need me to step in right away and be a big contributor and I want to do that. I want to be able show who I am as a player and have an impact right away."

Houstan is Michigan’s fifth commitment for 2021 — joining four-star guards Frankie Collins and Kobe Bufkin, four-star wing Isaiah Barnes and three-star forward Will Tschetter — and his addition vaulted the Wolverines’ class to No. 1 in the nation in 247Sports’ team rankings.

In the 2020 recruiting cycle, Michigan received a pledge from five-star prospect Isaiah Todd, only to watch him pass on signing early, decommit and join the NBA's G League. Houstan can change that as he and Michigan’s four other recruits will be able to make their commitments official when college basketball’s eight-day early signing period starts on Nov. 11.

"Michigan really showed that they wanted me and that I was going to be a key part of their program," Houstan told ESPN. "They were invested in me as a player and really took the time to get to know my game. They run a system that I know I can do well in.”

Michigan, on paper, has filled its scholarship allotment for the 2021-22 season — assuming transfer Chaundee Brown doesn’t receive a waiver to play this season — but could look to add a center to top things off. The Wolverines are still in the mix for several five-star big men, including Charles Bediako and Efton Reid.

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins