- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
Stephen Zimmerman (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) was watching Michigan play this season where he saw something more familiar than he could have anticipated. There the Wolverines were, running a play through their own big man, Mitch McGary.
Immediately, Zimmerman recognized it, and it only helped reaffirm his interest in the Wolverines.
“They used him really well,” Zimmerman said. “The play that they run where it runs through Mitch, we run the same thing with my traveling team, so it was a good thing to see how he ran it and things he did with it.”
The learning experience also turned him on to Michigan, and Zimmerman is the type of athletic big man Michigan has craved of late. He has some ball skills and can play both facing the basket and with his back to it. He is the type of big guy the Wolverines have shown they could use well with the development of McGary. And the Zimmermans have noticed.
They watched McGary on the AAU circuit when he was in high school and watched how he developed over the past year at Michigan.
“How he’s changed and evolved and come out as a player and he had such a great season,” said Zimmerman’s mother, Lori Stevens. “It’s just a combination of things.”
That combination has put Michigan on a long list of schools interested in the No. 5 player in the 2015 class. He already has around a dozen offers, almost every one of them from a high-major institution.
In the past week, after the latest live evaluation period with DreamVision AAU, the attention has picked up even more. This is a recruitment which started almost two years ago, when he wasn’t even in high school yet.
He had impressed at summer camps and is already 6-foot-11. Schools noticed and inquired. His first offers came over a year ago. The interest hasn’t stopped since.
“It was pretty crazy and I was pretty happy about it,” Zimmerman said. “It has started to pick up even more this week. I can’t wait to see how far it will go.”
How far it goes -- and where Zimmerman goes -- is a decision way off in the future. He and his family are planning on sitting down in the next few weeks to try and map out places to visit. A decision? Stevens joked they can’t even decide what they want for dinner each night, so one about Zimmerman’s college of choice won’t be coming for a while.
While he won’t be in college for another two-plus years -- he is starting to get a grasp of what will attract him to certain schools.
Stevens focused on “comfortability” and how teams use their big men. Her son has concerns about how teams get along with each other.
“The main things they need, the cohesiveness,” Zimmerman said. “The team has to be like a big family. That’s how everything functions better, that everyone is on the same page. I like a hard coach that can really can crack down but a coach that is also like a friend with his players, a coach with his players, but in practice and on the court, he’s a hard coach.”
Zimmerman said he didn’t have a favorite team growing up and doesn’t have a particular favorite right now. This could end up being beneficial to him. There will be no allegiances or emotional ties to his eventual decision.
“That’s definitely going to make me want to make the right decision,” Zimmerman said. “It’ll probably take a while before I try to make the right decision with the right school.”