Every week during the college basketball season, and every other week during the offseason former Michigan Basketball standout Tim McCormick joins TMI’s Sam Webb for a podcast called ‘The Michigan Basketball Insider.’ Each show offers a deep dive into the X’s & O’s and statistical analysis from Michigan’s games, commentary on college basketball in the Big Ten and beyond, and interviews with subjects from Tim’s vast array of contacts.
McCormick spent 10 seasons playing in the NBA after being the no. 12 picks in the 1984 draft. Since completing his pro career he has worked as a consultant with NBA players for the last two decades teaching strategies to improve performance and achieve greatness. Additionally, he runs the NBA Players Association’s Top 100 Basketball Camp for the nation’s best high school basketball prospects. Tim also provides color analysis as a broadcaster for ESPN’s college basketball coverage and Fox Sports Detroit’s Detroit Pistons coverage.
In this week’s episode Tim and Sam break down the performances of Isaiah Livers, Caleb Houstan, Chaundee Brown, Moussa DiabateDJ Wilson, Eli Brooks, DeVante Jonesand Zavier Simpson during NBA Summer League action Attention then turns to the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp performances by Michigan targets Zayden High, Elmarko Jackson, Somtochukwu Cyriland Soothsayer Royal. The podcast closes with a preview of our full roster breakdown coming up in our next episode.
In the excerpt below, Sam and Tim discuss the performances by Michigan targets Zayden High, Elmarko Jackson and Somto Cyril at the Top 100 Camp.
Tim McCormick: “It’s an interesting process going through the Top 100 camp because all of a sudden, you’re sitting in the gym and it’s completely quiet. And then the very next day there’s 100 of the best looking prospects you’ve ever seen. I spent two days just constantly looking (and saying), ‘who’s that guy? Oh, that’s Robert Dillingham. He’s going to Kentucky. I remember reading about him. I love the way he plays. He’s got a great feel for the game.’ By the end of the week, you’re starting to form opinions on them. I was very excited to see Bronny James… that’s LeBron’s son. And just not surprised by this, but this is a kid that has been mentored, tutored, and groomed in a big-time way. He meditates between games, he stays hydrated, he thinks the game, he knows how to run the fundamental pick & roll, he gets the hot scorer the ball. I think he’s really going to be a really good college player. I don’t know if I see him as an NBA player yet… he’s only 6-2. He didn’t get his dad’s height, but there are a lot of stories like that. And there were a lot of guys that I saw that I thought would be good fits for Michigan. In the camp it’s a great environment. There are 100 players that are from all over the country. Out of 100, 41 of them were 6-8 and above. So, it was long and it was athletic. Juwan was there, Saddi Washington was there, Howard Eisley was there. So, what I did, Sam… I’m very astute… I just kind of stayed in the background and watched where they headed and who they watched. If you’ve got a guy who you love, you follow him around. So, it was fun trying to figure out who they actually wanted.”
Sam Webb: “Yeah, so there were a couple of guys that I know they followed really, really stridently. And one of them was Zayden High. (He’s a) 6-9, 225-pound guy that can shoot it. I’ve heard some scouts that have liked him to a longer Isaiah Livers. Could you see that comparison? What do you think of Zayden High?”
Tim McCormick: ”So I never really got the sense that he’s an Isaiah Livers type of shooter. I spent time with him and I thought he was very smart, and a very good conversationalist. And you might say, ‘look, I just want a guy that can put his elbow in the rim.’ But I think differently. I believe that kids that can talk and come from good families…. they’re less likely to bolt as soon as they don’t get playing time. And I think Michigan has been really good at that. So, I liked him. At 6-9/6-10, skilled big guy. He’s from Texas, and there’s going to be a lot of competition. I don’t know how NIL plays into it. Some of those schools have unlimited budgets and it might be really hard to get him to leave home. I talked to his mom for a while, and she seems like a really nice lady. And so, sometimes parents that are really good parents will say, ‘hey, we want you to go far away and grow as a person.’ And other times the parents are so nice that the kid says, ‘I don’t want to leave, it’s too far from home, and I want my parents to see me.’ So, it’s hard to read. But there were so many good players that were long and athletic. I didn’t necessarily think he stood out as one of the great players in the camp, but I could see where his development is from. And Juwan has really developed a great feeling. Sometimes he doesn’t really care what the rankings say (and) not (always) really caring exactly what his other staff members say. This is his program and sometimes he just makes the call. So, I think that’s what it will come down to with Zayden High.”
Sam Webb: “There were two players who earned Michigan scholarships during their time at the camp. One of them has a strong connection to Michigan… a kid named Elmarko Jackson. He’s a combo guard from New Jersey playing his ball at South Kent in Connecticut now. And I was just (impressed with) the maturity of his game and his ability to play as well off the ball as he did on it. I think that really impressed them a ton. I know Phil Martelli had been following him, but the other coaches, led by Juwan, saw him during the Top 100 cap camp. He had a Michigan offer before the end of that camp, as well as from many others. Texas came through too, and he started really really racking them up after the Top 100 camp.”
Tim McCormick: “Yeah, funny story. I remember watching him and I thought, ‘who’s no. 82?’ And so, I grabbed my roster, and I started looking it up and I was unimpressed because it said he was a 6-10 power forward. I thought, ‘okay, if this guy is a 6-10 power forward, he’s going to be in the league next year.’ (Laughter). It was clearly a misprint, but Elmarko Jackson. will remind you a little bit of Jaden Ivey. Do you see that? Sat?”
Sam Webb: “I can see with his ability to get downhill… I mean… I get the comparison. I think Jaden is more explosive, but yeah, in terms of a guy who could just get downhill seemingly at will, we saw that a lot during his time at the Top 100 camp.”
Tim McCormick: ”He has an arrogance about his driving ability. Like, ‘you can’t stop me. I’m not sure if I’m going left and I’m going to pull up for a mid-range. (Or) if I go right, I’m going all the way.’ His mid-range shot was impressive. And he made a lot of those ‘wow’ plays where, you know, everybody in the gym can sense this energy that something big is going to happen. By the end of the week, he was one of the most explosive guards that I saw. And you know what else I saw? I saw a lot of Juwan Howard at his games.”
Sam Webb: “Yeah, I did too. I thought that for (Michigan) it was a measure of, could he be a guy that could play (off the ball). This is my opinion… I’m not saying they’re going to get Isaiah Collier… but I think that was a measure of If you offer (Jackson), and you get down to the finish line and with clearly a guy that’s at the top of several schools’ board including I think Michigan’s in Isaiah Collier… could Elmarko be a guy that plays with him? I think they came away from that weekend saying that those two guys can really thrive together. I got into it thinking, ‘man, this guy is really mature. If he runs into a guy that has the quickness to stay in front of him, look at this kid’s mid-range (skills). He had a turnaround in the mid-range. I saw him with a step back in the mid-range. I saw him with the spin move in the mid-range. I was like man, ‘that’s pretty impressive.’ He took a few threes and shot a good clip. And just when I thought that his game was below the rim, he came and BANGED on some guys! This dude brings a lot to the table, and he’s Marlin Jackson’s nephew. When I was watching him I had Marlin in mind, like, ‘yeah, I can see that football edge in this dude on the court.’ That gets to your downhill or attacking ‘arrogance’ that we saw from him. The other guy that got offered was a guy that I hadn’t seen before. But you could really, really tell (Michigan was interested). He was on Elmarko’s team, a dude named Somto Cyril. And I’m curious what you thought of Somto at the camp because he’s a five-star guy with whom I think Michigan’s (success) with international players here recently and how well they’ve done… I think that’s something that’s probably going to resonate with him as they get deeper into his recruitment.”
Tim McCormick: ”I’m impressed with the pronunciation. (Laughter) I was joking, I just called him ’94.’ He seemed to like that. Yeah, I honestly don’t have a lot of excitement about a center in this class. And the reason I say that is from what I can tell… do you think Hunter Dickinson is going to leave? I do not. I see him coming back for his senior year.”
Sam Webb: “I do too.”
Tim McCormick: ”And I think he’s going to become the all-time leader, maybe in NIL money if he sticks around. When he does leave… when his eligibility is over is he going to be a million-dollar guy? I think he really could. So, I don’t see Hunter Dickinson leaving. And so, I’m not really excited about any of the centers. Unless you told me GG Jackson, who decommitted from North Carolina is on the market then I might. And he’s not even a true center.”
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