University of Michigan Basketball Early National Letters of Intent
November 13, 2020
Howard Signs Six to Early National Letters of Intent
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan David and Meredith Kaplan Men's Basketball Head Coach Juwan Howard announced Friday (Nov. 13) the signing of six prep all-star players to National Letters of Intent to join the Wolverines for the 2021-22 academic year.
The listing of the six signees include:
• Isaiah Barnes; 6-foot-7 guard/forward from Chicago, Ill. (Simeon Career Academy)
• Kobe Bufkin; 6-foot-4 guard from Grand Rapids, Mich. (Grand Rapids Christian High School)
• Frankie Collins; 6-foot-1 point guard from Henderson, Nev. (Coronado High School)
• Moussa Diabate; 6-foot-10 forward from Paris, France (IMG Academy, Fla.)
• Caleb Houstan; 6-foot-8 guard/forward from Mississauga, Ontario (Montverde Academy, Fla.)
• Will Tschetter; 6-foot-8 power forward from Stewartville, Minn. (Stewartville High School)
"While we are excited for today's announcements, we want to first commend these six young men and their parents for the care, class, and maturity they showed while going through their recruiting processes," said Howard. "We are blessed that they chose the University of Michigan for not just athletics but academics. We worked very hard at identifying high-character players and the pieces that are going to help our program. We want to make sure we have quality young men, from quality families who can come in and represent the Block 'M' and this university with dignity and grace. To all six I say, welcome to the Michigan family!"
Howard's list of newest Wolverines begins with a pair of five-star recruits who are prepping in the state of Florida and are the top two rated players from the state in the Class of 2021. Montverde Academy forward Houstan (No. 8, 247 Sports; No. 10, ESPN; No. 11, Rivals) in the top spot with IMG Academy forward Diabate (No. 7, ESPN; No. 20, 247 Sports; No. 29, Rivals) second.
A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Houstan has prepped in the United States the last three years and elected to reclassify from the Class of 2022 to 2021. Last season as a sophomore at Montverde -- playing with current U-M freshman Zeb Jackson -- Houstan averaged 10.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists and helped the Eagles to a perfect 25-0 record before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the season being cut short, Montverde was declared the prep national champions. In his freshman year, he helped the Eagles to the semifinal of the national prep championship tournament.
In addition to his prep play, Houstan has represented Canada internationally. Playing in the 2019 FIBA U16 Americas Championships in Brazil, he led Team Canada to the silver medal and was the second leading scorer overall in the tournament, averaging 23.0 points per game, while adding 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals. His play resulted in being named to the All-Star Five as well as All-Tournament team.
Overall, Houstan is the third U-M recruit from the Mississauga area in the last 10 years -- joining former Big Ten Player of the Year and All-American Nik Stauskas (2012-14) and All-American Ignas Brazdeikis (2018-19), both of who became early NBA Draft selections.
"Caleb has continued to challenge himself since an early age and you can see that blossoming," said Howard. "He has so many different and valuable experiences playing against some of the strongest competition internationally and at Montverde. He is so even-keeled, naturally gifted and just has a feel for the game which allows him to be a leader and succeed in anything he puts his mind to. Andrea and David are tremendous and caring people and you can see that in everything Caleb does."
"Early on in the process, I knew there was something different about Michigan and the coaching team there. I am excited to play for Coach Howard and to be part of the culture that he is creating -- it is something that I knew I wanted to be part of," Houstan said. "The entire coaching and development team and the players have all reached out and welcomed me to the Michigan family. I know Michigan is going to help me immensely both on and off the court, and I can't wait to get down to Ann Arbor and get to work with my guys."
After moving to the United States from France at age 14, Diabate has been prepping in Florida for the past four years. Beginning his second season with IMG Academy, he averaged 14.5 points and 7.0 rebounds to help the Ascenders to a 19-7 record a year ago before the pandemic canceled the season. Prior to IMG, he prepped at DME Sports Academy, where he became the first sophomore to be named the SIAA Player of the Year as he averaged 17.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. In addition to his POY honor, he was also a first team all-conference and all-academic team selection.
Like Houstan, Diabate also plays for his native country as a member of the French national team. In the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship in Greece, he helped France to a fifth-place finish as he averaged 13.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. Throughout the tournament, he scored in double figures in four games and had 78 rebounds (46 offensive, 32 defensive). In 2018, he was part of France's fourth-place finish at the FIBA U16 European Championship in Serbia.
"We are looking forward to working with someone who is high-energy on court and high-character off the court. Moussa has an incredible work ethic and is one of those young men who is 'all-in' and puts forth the effort to really make success easy," said Howard. "We were drawn to his competitive nature and his willingness to do what it takes to find ways to win. Having so many life and playing experiences in the U.S. and France, Korotoumou has really allowed Moussa to grow into an amazing young man. Michigan fans are going to enjoy him."
"I am so appreciative for the opportunity Coach Howard and the coaching staff is giving me at the University of Michigan -- in basketball and with my education," Diabate said. "There is such a comfort for me with Coach and the other players, especially the incoming guys, that it made my decision easy. There are big things ahead and I cannot wait to be part of it."
Along with the Florida duo, Howard has brought in two additional four-star, top 100 members in the Class of 2021 with Coronado High School point guard Collins (No. 42, ESPN; No. 59, 247 Sports; No. 73, Rivals) and Grand Rapids Christian guard Bufkin (No. 60, Rivals; No. 63, ESPN; No. 63, 247 Sports).
Having grown up and played the AAU circuit with Jace Howard, Collins is very familiar with the elder Howard's career and program. This season, Collins transferred to Coronado High School after spending a season at Compass Prep, where he averaged 13.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists last season, helping the Dragons to a 24-6 overall record, a runner-up finish in the Region 1 Section (10-3) and the semifinal of the 2020 Canyon Athletic Association (CAA) Division 4 Championship.
Before Compass he spent two seasons at Clark High School, where he helped the Chargers go 47-13. As a sophomore, he averaged 10.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists, helping Clark to a 25-6 overall record, a runner-up finish in the Desert Southwest (10-2) and a runner-up finish at the 2019 Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) Class 4A Championship.
"My family and I have known Frankie and his family for several years. We have seen him grow as a person and a player," said Howard. "Jontae and Aaron have been a joy to be around, and they have really guided Frankie to make good choices athletically and academically. I was just thrilled when he chose to come to Ann Arbor. He has a great feel for the game and continues to improve. He sees the floor so well and his basketball IQ helps him make his teammates better."
"Knowing Coach Howard, his family, even playing with Jace and Jett throughout all these years has been an amazing experience," Collins said. "Now, having this opportunity to be coached by him -- at the University of Michigan -- is going to be very special for me and my family. Time cannot go fast enough as I can't wait to start this next challenge."
Entering his fourth season at Grand Rapids Christian, Bufkin has helped the Eagles to a 60-18 record in three seasons. Last year, he averaged 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists helping Grand Rapids Christian a 20-2 record, a runner-up finish in the Ottawa-Kent Conference-Gold (8-2, OKC-Gold) and the championship game of the MHSAA Division 2 District 44 playoffs before tournament was canceled.
The No. 2-rated player in the state of Michigan, the left-handed Bufkin was named a 2020 Division 2 All-State first team member by the Associated Press, Detroit News, Detroit Free Press and Grand Rapids Press.
"The consistency Kobe has shown with his game has helped him become one of the top players in the state of Michigan. The impressive thing is he has not stayed satisfied with that as he keeps working on and off the floor to become the best person he can be," said Howard. "Yes, he can score in a variety of ways; however, it is his dedication to defense that makes him an all-around joy to want to coach. There are many U-M fans who bleed maize and blue, and Kobe is no exception. Kim and Mike have a wonderful young man on their hands."
"Signing with Michigan is a dream come true for me and my family. For so long I have watched and been part of the Maize and Blue," Bufkin said. "It's a blessing to have coach (Juwan) Howard believe in me. Being able to continue my basketball career but challenge myself academically is something I am looking forward to."
Rounding out the class is Simeon Career Academy's Barnes ( No. 112, Rivals and No. 114, 247 Sports and ) and Stewartville High School's Tschetter (No. 147, Rivals and No. 155, 247 Sports).
An Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) All-State Class 4A special mention selection in 2020, Barnes has transferred to Simeon Career Academy for his final prep year after two seasons at Oak Park's River Forest. As a junior he averaged 21.0 points, 8.0 rebounds. 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals assists, making 65 3-pointers.
"Isaiah brings a work ethic and a drive that we were immediately drawn to," said Howard. "This is not just on the basketball court, it is in the classroom as well. However, his skill set on the floor is so very versatile that it will allow him to play many different roles for us. Dee and Danny have raised a very down-to-earth young man. I mean, he is from my old stomping grounds!"
"When Coach Howard first reached out to me, I knew there was a connection," Barnes said. "Coach, his staff and all the players made me feel like family from the start. Now, to be part of his program and the University of Michigan is very special. I look forward to getting to work down in Ann Arbor."
Rated as the No. 2 player in Minnesota for the Class of 2021, Tschetter (pronounced "cheddar") has scored 1,824 career points in three seasons at Stewartville. Last season, he averaged a Minnesota state-best 33.6 points (10th best in Minnesota high school history), 10.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and made 67 three-pointers, leading the Tigers to a 25-6 record and the championship game of MSHSL Section 1AA playoffs.
"Michigan fans are really going to like Will, not just on the court but off it as well. He is a strong and tough player who has tremendous balance to his game," said Howard. "What we like the most is that he cares so deeply for improving himself academically as well as athletically. Kasey and Garth have had their successes athletically and have been very supportive of Will's decisions throughout this process, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. We cannot wait to coach Will."
"I'm extremely excited to have the opportunity to play for such an amazing coach, staff and program. Only adding to that is to be able to attend one of the most prestigious academic universities in the nation, and even in the world," Tschetter said. "This makes this opportunity truly special to me and my family. I cannot wait to get to Ann Arbor and start my journey."