Trying to catch the
big one for
The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - April 2, 1990 - Page 7
Continued from Page 1
Toledo sweatshirt. Boyd jokingly tells Joplin not to travel so
inconspicuously next time.
The players begin a three-man weave drill, in which they shout out their
teammate's name as they pass it to him. One-on-one pair-offs soon follow
as do a variety of other exercises. Through the course of these drills, it soon
becomes evident why the 6-foot-9 player is so heavily regarded.
He is so dominant that it looks as if he is bored playing with his
overmatched teammates. He can run, block shots, rebound, and lead a fast
break. On one series, as a trailer on the fast break, he throws the ball off the
backboard to himself for a vicious dunk.
Yet a few of his teammates are also quality players, which explains the
presence of Byrdsong and Joplin, who aren't in the running for the all-world
performer. One who stands out in particular is a 6-foot-3 point guard who
exhibits an aura of poise and range on his jump shot.
Not overlooked by the coaches is a 6-foot-5, Baby-Hueyesque junior
varsity player shooting with the junior varsity coach on one of the side
baskets. The coach is teaching the awkward player the most rudimentary of
fundamentals such as the layup and the foul shot.
"Watch, we'll be here in a few years and this guy will be doing 360
dunks," Joplin says.
Later, I ask Boyd if the possibility of that happening equates with the
* likelihood of Dick Vitale developing a loss for words.
"You never know," he says. "He's there practicing an hour and a half
before his own practice with his coach..."
At about the same time the team begins a five-on-five scrimmage,
Michigan coach Steve Fisher enters the gymnasium. Because Fisher is
there, Boyd now feels free to leave. The super-prospect, if he cares to
inquire, will be assured that Michigan is interested enough in him to
observe him at every available opportunity.
"That's part of recruiting, Boyd explains. "That's part of what we do.
We're just there to show them we have a strong interest. But you can also
get a feel for what type of kid he is. In a game you can see his athletic
ability. In practice, you see how he relates with his coaches and teammates
in a more relaxed environment."
A bit taken aback at the amount of time it takes to land a top prospect, I
ask Boyd about some of his more notable experiences in recruiting. Two
prominent instances concern the pursuit of two recent All-American guards,
Rumeal Robinson, and Gary Grant.
The late start Michigan had in recruiting Robinson and the involvement
by Robinson's advisors are memorable to Boyd.
"In recruiting Rumeal Robinson we had to meet a committee, his coach,
counselor and parents," Boyd says. "We had to send a packet of information
about the school before we came in. We also were supposed to bring in an
academic counselor but that was against the rules.
"And we go in the room, Frieder and I, and there was this agenda that had
to be followed. He wanted to visit even though his mom wanted him to go
to Villanova. Villanova had done a great job recruiting him. We saw him in
the summer before his senior year and we were a little behind."
Though Boyd recalls he'd seen Grant play at least 20 times in pursuing
him, what he remembers most is the one time he missed a game.
Mike Boyd's success in recruiting will determine the future direction
Michigan basketball is pointed. In February, the Daily accompanied Boyd
on a trip to Birmingham and Indianapolis.
"I flew down one afternoon to Bloomington (OH) for a game and Gary
was playing in a night game in Columbus," Boyd recalls. "So I drove like a
maniac to get there on time and I get pulled over in Dayton. The police
officer was a graduate of Dayton and he remembered this kid we stole from
them a few years earlier and gave me a ticket.
"When I get there, I find out that Gary had played in the first game so I
acted like I saw his game, I was talking about the game to his coach. I got
an 85 dollar speeding ticket and I didn't even get to see him play."
A homecoming in the land of the Hoosiers
After leaving the high school in Birmingham, Boyd has to catch the
noon flight to Indianapolis. We make it with about five minutes to spare.
On the plane is Michigan assistant coach Brian Dutcher, who is going to
Indianapolis Lawrence North High School to watch 7-foot-0 center Eric
Montross, who would later choose to attend North Carolina, practice.
While walking to pick up their rental cars, Boyd and Dutcher pass
| - mi I
Indiana assistant coach Joby Wright. They exchange pleasantries with the
colorful Wright, who as he hurriedly walks by, astounds them by
proclaiming, "We need players."
After he has passed, Boyd and Dutcher try to figure out where Wright is
headed. Boyd is astute enough to notice what terminal he went to, although
he is not exactly sure what city he's destined for.
Both Boyd and Dutcher get a kick out of Wright's audacity. The
Hoosier's have six outstanding rookies on their team and have already
bagged the state's career scoring leader, Damon Bailey. "We need players,"
Dutcher repeats to Boyd in mock astonishment.
Recruiting trips to Indiana afford Boyd, who played his high school
basketball at New Castle High School, the chance to come home again.
"Indiana is a big basketball state," Boyd says. "There are nine
gymnasiums in Indiana that seat 9,000 people or more. New Castle has the
largest high school gym in the world. The people are just crazy about
basketball, there are two magazines devoted to high school basketball, the
kids are involved with AAU basketball.
"I enjoy going back. My mom still lives in New Castle and some friends
still live there. When we won the national championship some wrote me
notes congratulating me."
When we get into town we have some time to kill before we attend the
practice of another outstanding junior, a 6-foot-9 guard/forward from a small
private school. There is no better person than Boyd to find a place to lunch,
as he knows the area like the palm of his hand.
Brebeuf High is a small Jesuit school which houses what many
recruiting experts term the nation's top junior player. I remark how small
high school now appears and how young the students, who are only three or
four years younger than I am, appear.
"Wait 'til you get to be 43 years old," Boyd tells me.
When we make our way into the gym, the high school coach approaches
Boyd and greets him. They discuss the state basketball tournament and the
upcoming pairings. As the players are shooting around, the coach, a
relatively young man, determines that the players just don't seem to have it
on this particular day.
As the players all exhibit picture perfect form on their jumpshots, it
offers Boyd the chance to provide his theory on players across the country.
"Your southern kids, those are the great athletes," Boyd says. "The
players from the East are your bangers and strong guards who are able to
take it to the hole and penetrate. The players from the Midwest are great
shooters while the players from the West are a combination of the other
The players assemble and begin to play four on four at both ends of the
court. The star player, like his counterpart in Birmingham, sticks out like a
man among boys. He's 6-9, about 210 pounds, and can do whatever he
wants to on the court. He appears to be a better outside shooter than the
more physical player from Michigan.
Other Coaches Join The Chase
As practice begins, Purdue assistant coach Larry Kendrick enters the gym
with a white-haired gentleman, who I later learn is the pilot of his private
plane. Purdue, which is about an hour away from the school, and Indiana,
have been pursuing the phenom zealously.
By stopping in just before he is to fly to Champaign for a game against
Illinois, Kendrick wants to reaffirm the Boilermakers intense interest in the
See BOYD, Page
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