The Michigan Wolverines have gone from being completely irrelevant to a preseason top five program in just six years under head coach John Beilein, and with two ESPN 100 prospects already signed and a third set to sign a letter of intent on Friday the Maize and Blue have set themselves up to remain in the national spotlight for the next several years.
Small forward Zak Irvin (Fishers, Ind.), point guard Derrick Walton (Detroit, Mich.) and power forward Mark Donnal (Whitehouse, Ohio) make up Michigan's 2013 recruiting class that ranked No. 8 nationally.
IT'S OFFICIAL! I have finally signed my letter of intent to attend the University of Michigan next year! I t instagr.am/p/SBQkZzDw4b/
— Zak Irvin (@zirvin21) November 14, 2012
The highly coveted trio will have to deal with much higher expectations when they arrive in Ann Arbor next fall given the early success of the Wolverines' 2012 class, which featured Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskus, Spike Albrecht and Caris LaVert.
Walton is expected to replace sophomore point guard Trey Burke, who will likely enter the NBA Draft at the end of the season if he plays as well as he did last season, while Irvin and Donnal will likely come off of the bench early in their careers.
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) November 14, 2012
Will Michigan be a Final Four contender in 2013-14?
Albrecht and Walton will more than make up for the loss of Burke and the Wolverines have an emerging shooter in Stauskus to go along with Irvin, who is highly regarded as a three-point shooter if Tim Hardaway Jr. opts to bolt for the NBA a year early as well.
The Wolverines are already in the mix for several of the nation's top class of 2014 prospects, and there should be no reason why Michigan can't bring in another top 10 group of recruits to continue building the winning mentality former players like Zack Novak and Stu Douglass helped construct.
"They told me when they were recruiting me that they were going to be one of the powerhouses in the NCAA," Irvin told Nick Baumgardner of AnnArbor.com. "And they're starting to prove that -- hopefully we can keep it up."
The completely re-constructed Crisler Center and brand new player development center will help the Wolverines continue to recruit at an elite level and give Beilein more athleticism than he has ever coached in his 37-year career.
Ultimately, though, winning is what attracts attention from the top recruits across the country and Michigan has righted the ship in that regard with three NCAA tournament appearances in the last four years and the 2011-12 Wolverines won the program's first Big Ten regular season title since the 1985-86 season.
Michigan's basketball program is back from the dead and thanks to two consecutive start-studded recruiting classes and a winning product currently on the floor for the nation's top high school junior and sophomore products to see the Wolverines will not be going away anytime soon.
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