New Michigan Men's Basketball Coach John Beilein had a very tough test he had to take when he took over for Tommy Amaker to lead the Wolverine program. He had three top recruits (Alex Legion, Manny Harris, and Kelvin Grady) that he had to convince not to abandon the Wolverines for another school now that the coach that recruited them was gone. And so far, according to reports, he is 2-2 with a hat trick on the horizon.
As Brian over at M-Go-Blog has chronicled, both Harris and Grady have officially announced they are reaffirming their commitment to come to the University of Michigan. While Alex Legion has not fully made up his mind yet, the re-commitments of Harris and Grady are giant steps in the right direction and Mark Synder at the Detroit Free Press reports that
Shooting guard Alex Legion has not made his decision yet but his mother told the Free Press on Wednesday that discussions with the current coaching staff were progressing well and they were working toward a decision."
I have to give Beilein a lot of credit. When he was first hired at Michigan, one of the things which worried me (and a lot of other people) was that he had no ties to the Midwest, no ties to Michigan (he had never even been to Ann Arbor) and that recruiting was going to very very difficult faced up against powerhouses like Tom Izzo and Tubby Smith and the rest of the Big Ten. But, I'll fully admit when I'm wrong, and Beilein convincing Grady and Harris to stay at Michigan, with hopefully the same decision coming from Alex Legion in the coming days, shows me a lot. Sure, these players loved Michigan and Ann Arbor anyway, and may have returned no matter whom Michigan hired to replace Amaker, but this wasn't a slam dunk. Beilein had to sell himself to these athletes and their families, and obviously they liked what he had to say. And who wouldn't want to play in a system which scores a lot of points and shoots a lot of three-pointers.
The true test, of course, will come next season with Beilein heads into the homes of kids throughout the state of Michigan and the Midwest and perhaps elsewhere too (my colleague over @ MLive.com, Chris Burke, reported in his Diag Blog yesterday that a 4-star guard from Florida is strongly considering Michigan due to the Beilein hire) and sells the University of Michigan basketball program, but more importantly, himself to families and players. But convincing Grady and Harris (and hopefully Legion) to remain with the program was a very positive step in the right direction, and for a man who has questions surrounding his ability to recruit, it is a very positive sign for the future.