Next big man pledge? Priority Papa Kante sets Michigan visit date

On3 imageby:Chris Balas04/25/22


2024 four-star Papa Kante of South Kent (CT) Academy asked out of his Michigan NLI. (photo cred- Jamie Shaw)

Michigan will be taking a big man in the 2023. While there’s still some uncertainty about the Wolverines’ overall needs, there’s no question about that.

Enter Papa Kante, who has quickly become the favorite to become the first Michigan 2023 pledge. Kante has continued to build a relationship with head coach Juwan Howard, and he’ll reportedly visit June 14. That’s the same week Gavin Griffiths, West Hartford (Conn.) Kingswood-Oxford School shooting guard, will be on campus.

Griffiths is’s No. 15 2023 player nationally. South Kent (Conn.) School’s Kante is No. 85 and rising, holding offers from some of the nation’s top programs. Michigan “seems to be jockeying for front runner position in the center’s recruitment,” reported recently. Howard watched him with the New York Rens in Orlando not long ago and stays in touch with him.

“I play hard all the time, and like playing defense,” Kante, a Michigan priority, told “I can score 20 points per game, but I impact the game with my defense, guarding two or three positions in some games. I’m finishing better at the rim this season, and I’ve been shooting it well. I have been watching a lot of Joel Embiid and his footwork, how he scores the ball.”

He’s taken unofficial visits to UConn (a number of games), Providence and Rutgers, and Kansas, Syracuse, Georgetown and others have offered and are recruiting him hard in addition to Michigan. 

Kante averaged 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game with the Rens in the first Nike EYBL weekend. He also blocked three shots.

“Coach Howard texts me after every game I play — ‘good game, good win,’” Kante said several weeks ago. “He has come to watch me play two times, and I have been watching [Michigan] play a lot this season. They are probably recruiting me the hardest right now. 

“He loves my playing style how hard I play. He wants me to look at [Michigan big men] Moussa Diabate and Hunter Dickinson and how they play them. They are looking at me as a four and a five. He lets his freshmen play and make mistakes. They also play through their bigs and throw the ball inside. He was also a four and a five, played in the NBA.”

He wants to commit after late-summer Peach Jam, just before his senior season. Michigan seems to be in a good spot.

“I will be looking for the school who shows me the most love,” Kante said. “Where I can go and develop my game for the next level. That is the dream — the next level.”

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