One of the biggest criticisms of University of Michigan head basketball coach John Beilein has been his inability to creatively recruit. Coach Beilein is clearly an integrity driven man and will not stoop to the levels of some of the national powers in college basketball in order to recruit high school players. While he often loses out on some of the top players in-state, Beilein has had success when looking for players from north of the boarder.
Canada is slowly becoming a national basketball presence and many fans may not be aware of this. Each year, it seems there is at least one or two top players that land offers from big time schools and become major contributors. Andrew Wiggins definitely comes to mind, with the former standout drawing LeBron James comparisons while playing high school basketball in Toronto. Even though he has been labeled as a bust at the NBA level, Anthony Bennett was once the pride of Canadian basketball. Tyler Ennis and Trey Lyles are also Canadians playing in the NBA, while Dillon Brooks and Jamaal Murray look to be future NBA talents.
A total of 16 Canadians committed to Division-I schools in 2016. That number would have grown to 17 if the NBA had denied top Canadian prospect Thon Maker from entering the draft (Maker is skipping college to head straight to the NBA). The 7'1" Maker is entering the NBA draft on the grounds he is one year removed from high school after attending a prep school for his 2015-2016 season. Maker could be a mid-first round pick or a top 15 high school player in North America, though his landing spot in the NBA could vary due to how raw he still is.
The Big Ten has also recently received some Canadian commitments. The Nebraska Cornhuskers got bigger down low with their signing of 2016 center Jordy Tshimanga. The 6'10" big man has some conditioning issues, but will be a force in the Big Ten.
Canada is more than just maple syrup and moose, it is a country producing NBA talent regularly. Many fans may not be aware of these players nationalities because many of them transfer to the states to attend prep schools and gain attention in recruiting. One player who followed that formula was former Big Ten player of the year Nik Stauskas. A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Stauskas was a consensus top 100 player in North America coming out of high school and found a home for himself in Ann Arbor.
Stauskas developed immensely at Michigan and is a real rarity. His success, however, could be the reason head coach John Beilein has continued to visit the great white north in search of talent. Here are some players to look at for the maize and blue.
SF Danilo Djuricic (2017/2018)
Danilo Djuricic is one of the top players in his class. The 6-7 forward is currently being recruited as a 2018 prospect but could reclassify to 2017 if the offers are right. According to NorthPoleHoops, Djuricic is the second rated Canadian player in 2018, behind one of the top rated players in the world in Simi Shittu. Djuricic plays his high school ball at the all boys school St. Michael's in Toronto and plays nationally for team Canada.
According to Elias Sbiet of NorthPoleHoops, Djuricic is an elite defender. His ability to avoid fouling is likely a big reason why he appeals to Beilein. He has sneaky athleticism but his size profiles him as a wing player. Unfortunately Djuricic often has to play out of position during his high school season. Due to his size advantage over many forward in Ontario, Djuricic often plays like a stretch four and is featured a lot down low. Although he is not likely to see much time near the baseline in college, his versatility will not hurt him in recruiting.
PG Andrew Nembhard (2019)
Andrew Nembhard is a top Canadian player who is already gaining national attention. Although he is a ways away from attending college, Nembhard is already being touted as the next best thing to come out of Canada. The 6' 2" guard has a lanky frame and room to grow, but has been rated as one of the top Canadian guards in his class.
Nembhard has an ability to see plays happening before they develop. Having seen him play first hand, it is easy to notice he is leaps and bounds above all his competition. While his athletic abilities are off the charts, he is also no slouch in the class room. Nembhard is one of the smartest students in his school and is drawing interest from schools like Harvard. While Michigan is not academically incompetent (far from it, actually), they will have to appeal to Nemhard both athletically and academically to land the top prospect.
John Beilein spent a few days in March visiting Windsor at the Ontario Federation for School Athletic Association Championships to watch these two players. There is no telling what Beilein thought of the players, but he left the provincial championship after seeing some quality Canadian basketball. Look out for these players to possibly hit the Big Ten in the near future.