Steve Fisher wanted Kevin Garnett to come to Michigan. Garnett wanted him to come to the park. It was the summer of 1993 and Garnett had already established himself as one of the nation’s top recruits. Fisher, then the coach at Michigan, wanted to watch Garnett play in person, so he phoned the 6-foot-10 forward. The 17-year-old Garnett proposed that Fisher come watch him play pickup hoops in Mauldin, S.C. “I have a routine,” Garnett told him over the phone.
“I have a routine,” Garnett told him over the phone. Fisher didn’t typically evaluate recruits from pickup games, but in the 10 hours he spent watching Garnett play that day, the message was clear: The tall, lanky stretch-forward could hold his own against almost anyone. “I went to the park at 10 a.m. and he played with the little kids 10, 11, 12 (years old),” Fisher told The Athletic. “He was the pied-piper. After lunch, he came back and played with kids his age and dominated. Then after dinner, he came back and played with the old men.”
Fisher was locked in a heated recruiting battle for Garnett, along with Maryland, South Carolina and DePaul later on. Of course, Garnett spurned them all for the pros and became the first player in 20 years to declare for the NBA Draft out of high school. Garnett, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, has publicly and privately gone back and forth over the years as to whether he would have played for Maryland or Michigan had he gone to college. South Carolina fell off Garnett’s radar when he moved to Chicago and was replaced by DePaul, which quickly concluded the future Hall of Famer wasn’t going to college. Still, 25 years after Garnett turned pro, his hotly contested recruitment appears to have stuck with him — and the college coaches who remain adamant he was coming to play for them.
Although Garnett ultimately earned the qualifying ACT score he needed for college, he had already declared for the NBA Draft and solidified himself as a lottery pick by the time he got that result back. Fisher said Garnett stayed in touch through the spring and recalled seeing Garnett in Chicago shortly after the high school senior got his ACT results. Garnett told Fisher he would have come to Michigan if he had gotten a qualifying score sooner — and because he loved Chris Webber.
University of Michigan coach John Beilein has agreed to a five-year contract to become the Cleveland Cavaliers coach, league sources told ESPN. Beilein reached a deal with the Cavaliers on Sunday and informed Michigan’s administration of his decision to leave for the NBA on Monday morning, sources said.
Beilein, 66, has been entertaining thoughts about the NBA for several years and had detailed discussions with two franchises a year ago — Orlando and Detroit — before deciding to return to Michigan. Beilein didn’t want to move his wife that far from Michigan, and the Pistons borderline playoff roster with little financial flexibility to make changes made staying in-state less appealing. Cleveland’s rebuild status, based on point guard Collin Sexton and a 14 percent chance — along with New York and Phoenix — to earn the No. 1 pick in Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery were appealing to Beilein.