Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press
Published 4:53 p.m. ET June 17, 2020 | Updated 5:27 p.m. ET June 17, 2020
Hunter Dickinson, a Michigan commit and the No. 34 overall prospect in the 2020 class, at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. on Jan. 18, 2020.
Detroit Free Press
Purdue transfer Nojel Eastern will not join Michigan basketball and is reopening his recruitment.
Eastern was unable to enroll at the university, he announced Wednesday on Twitter. He cited a number of credits earned at Purdue that didn’t carry over to Michigan, which is why he couldn’t pass through admissions.
The latest spiral in Eastern’s transfer saga comes as a surprise after coach Juwan Howard spoke about him in a late-May video released by Big Ten Network. Since it’s an NCAA violation to openly discuss unsigned players, it seemed Eastern had signed.
That’s clearly not the case.
Eastern committed to U-M on May 14, just two days after he entered the transfer portal. He was a much-needed addition after the Wolverines missed out on two five-star prospects and lost three players to transferring this offseason.
In three seasons and 104 games with the Boilermakers, Eastern made 62 starts. He averaged 5.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 46.6%.
His best campaign came in 2018-19, when he started 35 of 36 games, averaging 7.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Howard described the 6-foot-7, 225-pound wing as a “matchup problem,” something he dealt with in two meetings with Purdue last season.
“He has a lot to prove as a player, like all do,” Howard said. “He wants to get better. He’s really big on, ‘Hey coach,’ and this is from his own mouth, ‘I want to get better. There are a lot of areas of my game I feel I can work on and I’m willing to put in the work.’ I love guys that are honest with themselves, a guy that’s a competitor, a guy that’s a worker. With that type of DNA, I think that’s special.”
While there was uncertainty surrounding Eastern’s status next season –– if he needed to sit out due to transfer rules or could secure immediate eligibility –– his departure is even more unexpected.
After forward Colin Castleton and guards Cole Bajema and David DeJulius entered the portal earlier this offseason, along with striking out on five-stars Isaiah Todd and Josh Christoper, Eastern’s presence would’ve helped fill the holes without sacrificing Big Ten experience.
Now, without Eastern joining the squad, the Wolverines are left with one scholarship available for the 2020-21 season.