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10B - The Michigan Daily - Tipoff 2002 - Thursday, November 7, 2002
The Michigan Daily - Tipoff 2002 -
Amadou Ba *
Big Ten regular season champion Ohio State
Michigan finish 6th
Michigan player of the year LaVell Blanchard
Michigan freshman of the year Lester Abram
Big Ten Tournament champion Wisconsin
Big Ten player of the year Brian Cook (Ill.)
Surprise team Ball State
Most disappointing team UCLA
Naismith Award Winner Dwyane Wade (Marq.)
NCAA Final Four Florida
(champion in bold) Duke
Rick Rickert (Minn.)
Willie Deane (Pur.)
Rick Rickert (Minn.)
- transfer, will sit out season
* - redshirting this season
T.J. Ford (Texas) Brandin Knight (Pittsburgh) Chris Duhon (Duke)
Nike Elite (ex.)
7 . m.
at Ohio State
at Penn State
1: 7 p.m.
F rom 1970 through 1998, the Michigan
basketball program endured just two los-
ing seasons. In the four years since then,
its had three.
And the losses are killing Lester Abram and
Both are lifetime Michigan fans. Both have
grown up with their eyes fixed on Crisler Arena,
living and dying each winter with the fortunes of
their beloved Wolverines.
Watching the once-proud program falter has
Now the two have the opportunity to do some-
thing about it. Abram and Brown make up two
members of Tommy Amaker's six-man freshman
class, the first that the Michigan coach has hauled
in during his brief tenure in Ann Arbor.
And if you listen to the two youngsters, they'll
tell you that they don't plan on letting Michigan
"We've followed Michigan and seen the losses,
all the embarrassing losses and it's important that
we want to improve on that," said Abram, a two-
time Class A state basketball champion at Pontiac
Northern High School. "In high school, games that
we should've lost, we always came back and won
- I don't want to get adjusted to losing."
'A BASKETBALL MECCA'
Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Glen Rice. Terry
Mills. Chris Webber. Jalen Rose. Mateen Cleaves.
The significance of these players? They've all
been a part of spectacular basketball teams from
either Michigan or Michigan State - teams that
won national titles or lived in the Final Four.
The connection? They all grew up in Michigan.
Be it the "Fab Five" or the "The Flintstones,"
every successful team coming out of Ann Arbor or
East Lansing has been built around talent from
within the state. It's that homegrown talent that
doesn't have to be preached to about the tradition
of a program, or how hard the locals take losing.
Just like current Michigan seniors LaVell Blan-
chard, Rotulu Adebiyi and sophomore Chuck Bai-
ley, Abram and Brown come in as hometown
heroes, well aware of the Michigan legacy.
"It's always nice to have a couple of guys on the
team that really love the Michigan program," said
Brown, who had two brothers attend Michigan.
"People out of the state don't know the pride that
goes into the Wolverines. Living in the state and
having both of my brothers come to school here, I
bleed blue and maize.
"You've got to understand the power that comes
from the Michigan name."
That power and tradition is something that
Amaker stresses, and is more than happy to see
Brown buying in to.
"He is going to be a kid that has incredible pas-
sion for wearing the maize and blue," said Amaker
of Brown. "I think there is no one who is going to
be above him that understands what it means to go
to Michigan. When you talk about a kid who is
going to put his heart and soul into everything, he
is going to do that."
Brown and Abram traveled different paths en
For more info, contact Jackie Livesay @ 764-9505 or email@example.com
- Home games in bold *-Paradise Jam Tournament
route to Ann Arbor, but one pit stop along te way
was identical. The two were teammates on the AAU
team The Family, coached by Durand Walker.
Walker's position has allowed him to come to
the conclusion that if Amaker wants to restore
Michigan to glory, he's going to need more players
like Abram and Brown to help him along the way.
"I think (having players from in-state) is vital,
that's the only way to get the Michigan program
back on its feet," Walker said. "You probably could
build the team back up with talent from outside the
state but why would you want to?
"We've got a basketball Mecca in this state, and
you can build an entire program from it,"
'A DREAM COME TRUE'
There was only a brief instant when Abram was
unsure if Michigan was right for him.
Right after former Michigan coach Brian
Ellerbe was dismissed from his position following
the 2000-01 season, Abram, who had originally
committed to Ellerbe and the Wolverines prior to
his junior year of high school, withdrew his com-
mitment. He decided to reopen his recruitment,
and wait for Michigan to name a new coach.
When Amaker was tabbed as the man, Abram
wasted little time reaffirming his devotion to the
"It was not real serious (when I reopened my
recruitment), I always wanted to come here,"
Abram said. "When they brought coach Amaker
in, I had never met him before so I sat down with
him, liked what he was talking about, and so I
Brown, too, despite what other programs might
have believed, never had much of a decision to
make when choosing to come to Michigan.
Rejecting schools like Notre Dame, Georgetown
and several Big Ten programs, Brown opted not to
let his childhood dreams pass by.
"Growing up, I was always looking out there
and seeing the players, and I was wishing that I
was out there," said Brown of traveling to Crisler
Arena with his family. "Coming to reality and hav-
ing that happen, it just shows that everyone can get
where they want to be. For me, it's like a dream
come true - it's great to have this uniform on."
'HIGH VALUE ON WINNING'
Saying they always love the Michigan program
and proving they can bring the Wolverines back to
national dominance are far from one and the same
for Abram and Brown. But their desire to get
Michigan back on top is a crucial trait.
Their talent also helps.
Abram comes into Michigan as one of the more
highly regarded recruits in America - ranked as
high as No. 38 nationally by recruiting pundits.
The 6-foot-6 swingman averaged 22.7 points,
10.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game his senior
year at Pontiac Northern, and poured in 19 points
in Northern's state championship win. He lit the
court up, connecting on an impressive 40 percent
of three-point attempts.
But more important for Amaker than Abram's
statistics are his two state titles and an 81-21
record in high school.
"We put a high value on winning, and to be able
to attract some kids from winning environments
that actually have won some championships and
have been big-time winners is key," Amaker said.
"There is no bigger winner than Lester Abram. He
understands what it means to be part of a winning
tradition and a winning program.
"If we can continually bring kids into our pro-
gram that have experienced that, that is an invalu-
able trait to have."
Brown is far less heralded than Abram coming
into Michigan. But the 6-foot-9 forward/center,
who describes his play as similar to Chris Young,
could be a big part of the Wolverines' hopes now
and in the future. He averaged 21 points, 17
rebounds, eight assists and eight blocks for Mio
High School last year, including a spectacular 38-
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Just like home
Tommy Amaker has made a point to load his
roster with players from the state of Michigan.
This year's basketball team features nine
Michigan residents - six of whom are expect-
ed to see quality minutes during the
and Rotolu Adebiyi,
18 a ovier Welo m/i
Washington at Pearl
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