Just hours after 2016 Detroit Jesuit point guard Cassius Winston announced Michigan was no longer on his list of final schools, Lima (Ohio) Senior’s Xavier Simpson, announced he was committing to Michigan.
Winston had been Michigan’s top target at the point guard position in this recruiting class.
His father and coach, Quincy Simpson, told the Detroit Free Press the sides have been talking for weeks, but it intensified Sunday, when they stopped by the Ann Arbor campus — on their way back from a Wisconsin official visit.
The Michigan visit was unofficial, but resonated with both Simpsons and, after they left Ann Arbor on Sunday, Xavier called back and committed.
“Everything happens for a reason,” said Quincy Simpson, who had spoken to Trey Burke’s father Benji recently about Wolverines coach John Beilein and Michigan. “It happened late, but it was a great fit.”
He cited the academics, program success and Beilein’s integrity as major factors in the decision.
The 5-foot-11, four-star guard also was considering the Badgers, Illinois and Iowa State, among others, and was planning to wait for a decision. He had mentioned Michigan in the past, but not recently, at least until reports flooded out about his change of heart.
The visit to see Michigan was critical as Beilein usually has a rule to not offer scholarships before a prospect visits campus.
Whether the end of the Winston pursuit changed things for the Wolverines or Michigan wasn’t willing to wait for Winston, whose visit was scheduled for later in September, is not clear. Quincy Simpson said he understands why Michigan was waiting on Winston, having recruited him for almost two years, but also why they intensified with Simpson, to get a player they knew they wanted.
“When it got heavy, it go heavy real quick,” Simpson said.
Ranked as the No. 12 point guard and the No. 55 overall player by Scout, Simpson is a huge coup as the fourth player in U-M’s 2016 class. He becomes the third Ohio commit, joining Pickerington Central wing Ibi Watson and Medina big man Jon Teske. Onsted big man Austin Davis is the fourth member.
The Michigan connection clearly developed late in the process as Simpson’s AAU team, The King James Shooting Stars posted about the commitment to Michigan before his announcement today but had a paragraph at the end that explained how he will fit into Wisconsin’s team.