The Michigan Wolverines added to its range and versatility today when Reading (MA)/New Hampton Prep (NH) PF Evan Smotrycz and Miami (FL) Palmetto high SG Tim Hardaway Jr. cemented their futures in the Maize & Blue. Both players were the subject of praise last summer thanks to their standout performances. Smotrycz was widely regarded as one of the fastest risers nationally during AAU season, vaulting up the rankings to the #71 prospect overall and the #17 PF in the country. Meanwhile, after sizzling the nets at Michigan’s summer camp, Hardaway Jr. checks in as the #23 SG in the country.
"These are two multi-dimensional players that are very capable of playing several different positions," said Beilein. "They have good length. They are outstanding shooters. They have a good feel for the game with high basketball IQs. They have great court vision. What really impresses me is their ability to pass which will be valuable down the road."
Hardaway, Jr. is a do-everything player for Miami Palmetto Coach, Chris Brown. The 6-5 190-pounder isn’t the cat quick floor general that his dad was, but he brings dangerous weapons to the fold in his own right. His length and shooting ability helped him fill up the stat sheet last season to the tune of 23.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.8 steals. Brown feels his star pupil is just scratching the surface of what he can be.
“They are looking at him as a Manny Harris type,” said Brown. “He’s somebody who can come in right away and be a big guard who can rebound, run off some screens, and hit the three. I think the 1-3-1 (defense) fits him well too because he’s so long.”
“He can definitely flat out shoot it,” he continued. “He is a 6-5 guard with unlimited range. Plus he is very versatile. He plays the one, the two, and even plays the five at times for us. He likes to get up, defend, and get after it. I think what stands out most is that he can put the ball on the floor and he sees the floor well. He can do it all as far as the one through three at the next level.”
That versatility will put to good use in Ann Arbor, but early on it’s likely that Hardaway’s primary contribution will be as a big time shooter.
"The biggest thing about Tim is he has a pretty jump shot," said Beilein. "If you look at Manny's (Harris) jump shot right now, it is perfect, and Tim's is pretty close to that point early with his development. It's got great form, great spin and has a chance to go in every time. He is a very athletic player and like I said before his vision on the court in outstanding."
Smotrycz is similarly deadly from long range. That much was evident during a number of memorable showings on the AAU circuit last summer. Scout.com analyst followed the versatile youngster closely at the Pittsburgh Jam Fest and the NBA Players Association Top 100 camp.
“Smotrycz is the perfect prospect for John Beilein’s system,” wrote Daniels after watching Smotrycz in the Steel City. “At 6-foot-8, 200-pounds he’s a guy that moves very well, has great touch in the paint, but most importantly is a terrific shooter. His form is flawless and he finishes it off with a high release. The New Hampton (H.H.) School standout, who showed use of both hands around the basket, is capable of putting it on the decks for a few bounces and pulling up for jumpers as well. Strength is a concern and an area for improvement, but there’s no denying his ability to shoot the rock.”
That much was evident at the NBA camp when on Day two he turned in one of the more memorable displays of long range marksmanship.
“(Smotrycyz’s) big time outing during the morning session secured him a spot in the camp all-star game,” said Daniels. “Smotrycz is a skilled four-man that can step out and shoot jumpers from long range. In this one he buried three three-pointers and had a handful of buckets at the rim. He’s averaging 13 points a game, which is good enough for Top 10 in scoring at the camp.”
A number of schools swarmed Smotrycz after his verbal to Michigan, but Beilein’s early identification and courtship was too much for the late entering big timers to overcome.
"Evan can play three different positions for us," Michigan’s headman said. "It is his versatility, great size and shooting ability which we like. Being 6-9, it is rare to see someone shoot it like he does. But what I really like is that he is an exceptional passer. His potential is outstanding."
For more details on the Wolverine’s signees, click here.