California awaited Isaiah Livers, a 2017 basketball recruit from Kalamazoo Central.
Visiting Berkeley was high on the list for the forward as he worked through his list of possible schools. He was planning a visit.
Then his father offered reality, pointing out to Livers that there was no reason to visit if he knew he wanted to attend Michigan.
So he canceled those plans and, on Sunday, committed to U-M.
“I already knew what school I liked and where I wanted to go and there really wasn’t much to wait for,” Livers said this week. “I had all the offers I wanted on the table and me and my family knew which one I wanted to take.”
Even before Michigan offered him in July, Livers already had his sights set on the Wolverines.
“We were thinking the same,” he said. “They had a good offense and fit for me. They’ve got great players there. It’s a great atmosphere, I’m an academic guy, so it all plays in the right hands.”
That’s where Michigan could offer an advantage over some of the other schools. Not only was it close to home, but the Ross Business School was a selling point unique to U-M.
Despite the coaching turnover among assistants at Michigan in the past few months, Livers said he never wavered and mostly was just waiting for the Wolverines.
Two of U-M’s previous assistants, Bacari Alexander and LaVall Jordan, had a good relationship with Livers, but when they left in the spring for head coaching positions, U-M coach John Beilein took over.
Though Beilein had a bare-bones staff at the time, he talked to Livers after a spring baseball game and began to intensify the conversations.
“That’s when he started getting serious,” Livers said. “He told me the truth and I trusted him. I believed him throughout the whole process.”
When Beilein hired new assistants Billy Donlon and Oakland’s Saddi Washington, that made Livers more comfortable.
“He was already recruiting me at Oakland and thought it was funny how he was going to still recruit me,” Livers said.
When the offer came in July -– Livers was in Las Vegas for the summer AAU circuit – he knew where he was leaning. It was just a matter of when he would commit.
Livers is ranked as the state of Michigan’s No. 2 player and saw his profile jump this spring and summer when he switched AAU teams. The Michigan Mustangs lost their coach and disbanded, so he hooked on with Meanstreets out of Illinois, a Nike EYBL team run and coached by former U-M receiver Tai Streets.
“I got way more exposure than I did being on the Adidas circuit,” Livers said. “It was definitely a different level of competition. It was live, how it’s described.”
Though Streets has the strong U-M ties as one of the program’s great receivers in football – not to mention moonlighting on the basketball team – Livers said he was never pushed by his new summer coach.
As a 6-foot-8, 210-pound wing, Livers’ game is versatile enough that Streets saw his full range.
“Our first tournament was in the beginning of April and I was like, ‘Dang, this kid can be pretty good,’ ” Streets said. “He just kept getting better and better. He can shoot, he’s a big guy, he can handle the ball and can do a lot of things being so tall.”
That ability to shoot from distance as a big man is essential in Beilein’s offense. Having height like that on the wing forces defenses to play up on him outside, opening the middle of the floor.
With shooting guard Jordan Poole and point guard Eli Brooks already in the 2017 class — Livers said he and Poole have playfully trash-talked on the court during past AAU games — the group became more versatile.
With one scholarship remaining for the class, Michigan may look for some more size, with a power forward, a long elusive position in the program.
Now that his school is settled and recruiting is in the past, Livers can focus on a different goal.
“My major goal for this year is definitely get Mr. Basketball,” Livers said. “Work on my footwork, increase speed, vertical of course, get some muscle in the weight room, just sharpen up everything else.”