Why Papa Kante is such a big commitment for Michigan Basketball

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Syndication: Detroit Free Press /

Juwan Howard reeled in another big-time commitment for Michigan basketball on Thursday, landing Papa Kante. Here’s why was a big get for the Wolverines.

The recruitment of Papa Kante was up and down at times. Michigan basketball felt like the leader through the spring and into the summer, but things started to shift a little.

Memphis got involved and other schools like Rutgers, Pitt, and Maryland seemed like serious threats.  It wasn’t until just recently that Kante became a Michigan basketball lean.

After announcing a Thursday decision date earlier this week, the four-star center in the 2023 recruiting class made things official by committing to the Wolverines.

Kante is ranked as the No. 76 overall prospect according to the On3 consensus rankings but the 6-foot-10 center from Senegal has been one of the fast-rising recruits in the entire 2023 class and On3.com now ranks him 32nd overall, just beyond the five-star range.

Here’s what Kante told Endless Motor Sports about his commitment: “The no. 1 thing is my relationship with Coach Howard, he made me a priority since the first time he saw me at South Kent. It’s like family there reminds me of South Kent how players interact with coaches.”

What this means for Michigan basketball

Kante is the first commitment of the 2023 class for the Wolverines and he’s a big one, not just because he’s 6-foot-10. Hunter Dickinson is likely heading to the NBA draft after this season and that will leave Michigan needing some depth on the interior.

Tarris Reed could have a chance to take over the five spot, but Kante will provide some competition. He could also be the best rim-protector on the roster and that’s probably even with Dicksinon surprises everyone and sticks around.

Kante is still developing as an offensive talent and in Nike’s EYBL Circuit, he averaged 10.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. Here’s what Jamie Shaw of On3 wrote about Kante:

"“His offensive repertoire is also expanding away from the basket. Kante notably worked this summer to become a pick-and-pop threat out to the three-point line. And that aspect gradually improved with optimism. Throughout the summer, on the EYBL Circuit, Kante attempted 1.3 threes per game, and he made roughly 30 percent of those attempts. After finishing the summer making close to 70 percent of his free throws, there is optimism for his development as a shooter.”"

Beyond how his offensive game grows, Kante has the potential to be the best Michigan defender at center since Jon Teske. As good as Dickinson is on the offensive end, and his defense has improved too, he’s never been much of a shot-blocker and with Juwan Howard developing him, the NBA seems like a definite possibility down the road.

Next. The all-time Michigan basketball team. dark

As well as a stellar multi-year career playing for Michigan basketball.