Wolver­ine com­mits to Wolver­ines

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - JOE HENRICKSEN Twit­ter: @joe­hoop­sre­port

Isa­iah Barnes saw his list of of­fers ex­plode in the spring.

The for­mer Oak Park star, who is trans­fer­ring to Simeon for his se­nior year, was the hottest name in Illi­nois over the last sev­eral months — and one of the hottest in the coun­try in the Class of 2021.

He sifted through an as­sort­ment of high-ma­jor of­fers in re­cent weeks and wound up com­mit­ting to coach Juwan Howard and Michi­gan ear­lier this sum­mer.

“There is a great tra­di­tion at Michi­gan,” Barnes said. “I saw my­self be­ing a part of that. Ev­ery of­fer I re­ceived was a bless­ing.

But I felt it with Michi­gan. Coach Howard and I had some great con­ver­sa­tions about wear­ing the maize and blue.”

Howard, a Chicago na­tive who starred at Vo­ca­tional 30 years ago, se­cured the com­mit­ment from a 6-7 wing with a high ceil­ing who is among the top prospects in Illi­nois in the Class of 2021.

The big, skilled and ver­sa­tile Barnes picked up of­fers from Kansas, Iowa State, Illi­nois, Wis­con­sin, Mary­land, Creighton, TCU, DePaul, Texas A&M, Iowa and Ge­or­gia, among oth­ers. But he had to wait his turn.

While other top prospects in the class were re­ceiv­ing high-ma­jor of­fers two years ago, Barnes said he tried to re­main pa­tient. But he knew his high-ma­jor op­por­tu­ni­ties would come even­tu­ally.

“It was a chal­lenge for me, hon­estly, to see oth­ers get­ting what I thought I de­served,” Barnes said. “But it did add fuel to the fire.”

Barnes said at one point he took a time­out from so­cial me­dia and even tried to stay off his phone.

He didn’t want the dis­trac­tion to im­pact his game and de­vel­op­ment.

“I didn’t want it to get to me, and I wanted to just put the work in and not worry about it,” said Barnes of the re­cruit­ing process. “I knew it was a mat­ter of time and that it would hap­pen, and I was ready for it.”

The re­cruit­ment came fast and fu­ri­ous for Barnes once the high school sea­son was over and the coro­n­avirus shut­down be­gan. The of­fers be­gan rolling in, and Barnes had to sort them all out. He said he never felt over­whelmed, but as the re­la­tion­ship with Howard grew, Michi­gan be­came a clear choice for Barnes.

“Our re­la­tion­ship grew so much over the past cou­ple of months,” Barnes said. “We talked al­most ev­ery day. We talked about so many things other than basketball — about him be­ing from Chicago, about be­com­ing a bet­ter man. I felt that con­nec­tion with him. To top it off, the aca­demics are great. It’s the best place for me.”

A tan­ta­liz­ing tal­ent with skill and size on the perime­ter, Barnes has been among the top prospects in the class since the day he en­tered high school.

The late-bloom­ing prospect’s body and game con­tin­ued to de­velop over the course of his ca­reer, which in­cluded a break­out ju­nior sea­son.

This past year he av­er­aged 18.5 points for the Huskies while mak­ing 65 three-point­ers.

Barnes, who Ri­vals ranks as the No. 113 prospect in the coun­try, show­cases high-level ath­leti­cism and a great basketball body to go with an im­pres­sive skill pack­age. He can han­dle the ball on the perime­ter, at­tack the bas­ket and shoot it with range. He shot 36 per­cent from be­yond the arc.

Now Barnes will be part of a Simeon team that fig­ures to be among the best in the state in 2020-21.

ALLEN CUN­NING­HAM/SUN-TIMES

Isa­iah Barnes, who com­mit­ted to Michi­gan, will play for Simeon this sea­son af­ter trans­fer­ring from Oak Park.

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