Michigan basketball finally has its first commit for the 2023 recruiting class.
Four-star recruit Papa Kante, a 6-foot-10 center rated as the nation’s No. 108 prospect according to 247 Sports’ composite rankings, announced Tuesday he was signing with the Wolverines on the 247 Sports YouTube channel.
Kante, who attends South Kent High School in Connecticut, chose Michigan over his other four finalists: Maryland, Rutgers, Memphis and Pittsburgh.
“First and foremost, I want to thank God for allowing me to play the game I love and I want to thank all the coaches who have been recruiting me,” Kante said. “(To my parents), I cannot do it without you. You guys are my motivation. You are who I think of every time I step on the floor.
“With that being said, I’m going to take my talents to Michigan University.”
Kante, originally from Senegal, moved to the United States in 2019 to pursue basketball. This summer, he began garnering more attention during the AAU season, playing on the Nike EYBL Circuit for Expressions Elite, where he enjoyed a breakout tournament at Peach Jam.
Michigan was the only program in the Big Ten that did not have at least one commitment from a player in the class of 2023 — somewhat surprising given they’re one of the few programs (along with Ohio State, Illinois and Iowa) that already has a pledge for the 2024 class.
“The relationship I have with coach Juwan Howard, since day one, he’d come to the gym, he was watching another kid but the first time he saw me he loved my game and that I’m a good teammate,” Kante said. “I remember the first time I visited I loved it, so I took another one.
“I saw all the players are like a family and coach Howard loves Michigan so that’s why I chose Michigan. It’s a good fit.”
Howard was asked about his 2023 class in Minneapolis at Big Ten media day, and said he was in no hurry given the two signing periods: The “early” window is from Nov. 9-16 and the second window is April 12-May 17.
“I don’t know who’s in a rush. Are you in a rush?,” he said when asked if this is later than he’d like to get started on his class. “(Those recruiting windows), that’s the timetable.”
Howard has also been active in the transfer portal, getting a transfer point guard to lead his team each of the past three years, as well as Duke transfer shooting guard Joey Baker this season. Howard and his staff went into the international waters to sign Lebanon’s Youssef Khayat.
Howard said there’s no specific formula to how or when he fills out his roster, but rather he likes the process of getting buy-in from anyone who chooses the program.
“I enjoy meeting people,” he said. “And understanding who fits and who wants to get a beautiful college degree at the University of Michigan.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Papa Kante commits to Michigan basketball 2023 recruiting class