Where things stand with 2023 priority Papa Kante

Where things stand with 2023 priority Papa Kante


Michigan basketball hosted four-star big man Papa Kante for an official visit last week and the Wolverines appear to be in a good position.

It’s easy for recruiting to get lost in all of the chaos of the transfer portal, but outside of Joey Baker committing via the portal to Michigan basketball, there was some other news last week.

Actually, there has been quite a bit of news on the Michigan basketball front, as the Wolverines are now in the top four for 2022 international recruit Youssef Khayat from Lebanon.

He’s 6-foot-9 and could easily slot into Moussa Diabate’s role last season, except he’s a much better offensive talent. He’s also a plus addition on defense with his ability to switch screens.

Khayat released a top four list on Sunday and as expected, Michigan made the cut along with Xavier, Wake Forest, and Depaul. He won’t be able to visit any of the schools in person and Juwan Howard seems to have worked hard on this one, so I like U-M’s chances with the preface that have zero intel about this recruitment.

Michigan is a blue-blood program though and the others are not. The Wolverines also have a clear need/role for Khayat plus a proven history of helping players — international or otherwise — get to the NBA consistently, something no other team in his final list can say.

So hopefully, there will be some good news in the coming weeks. However, on the high school recruiting front, Michigan could also be closing in on some good news.

Michigan has a good visit with Papa Kante

Four-star center Papa Kante visited Ann Arbor last week and by all accounts, the visit went really well. Kante is ranked 85th overall in the On3 consensus rankings but made a big leap in the On3 specific rankings recently, going up to 34th overall.

Kante is 6-foot-10 and he’s been rising up due to an impressive summer just like a solid showing he put forth at the Pangos All-American camp this month. Here’s what On3’s Jamie Shaw wrote:

“If we were to give an award for the best center at Pangos All-American Camp, Papa Kante would have been aggressively in the conversation. He does what you want a big man to do, rebounding the ball, defending and switching, and making tough guy plays. His offensive arsenal continues to expand, showing a go-to move on the block and stepping to knock down spot-jumpers from three and create opportunities in the mid-post.”

Kante is a rim protector and a guy with a developing offensive game. He seems like a more traditional center, except he’s a pretty solid athlete for defensive purposes.

Michigan basketball has needed a center like that and long-term, I think he would be great to pair with Tarris Reed. Reed can play the four too and also offers different strengths on offense.

The question is can Michigan land Kante?

Juwan has been personally invested in this recruitment and Michigan has felt like the favorite. But Kante is close friends with Gavin Griffiths who just committed to Rutgers and not coincidentally, Kante has visited the Scarlet Knights twice, including an official visit in May.

There was talk that those two wanted to play together. That could happen if Kante commits to Rutgers. Maryland is also in the mix and will get the next official visit, followed by Pitt on June 28.

So, outside of the Wolverines, Pitt, Rutgers, and Maryland are the top contenders. And just like with Khayat, I like Michigan’s chances.

Juwan is the X-factor and his ability to build relationships and develop bigs, gives me the confidence that Michigan will land both Kante and Khayat in the coming month.

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