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Rivals' Adam Gorney reports that Gardena (CA) Junipero Serra wide receiver Deontay Burnett flipped his commitment from Washington State to Michigan this afternoon after taking an official visit to Ann Arbor. He told GBW that Michigan's academics were a major reason for the switch in commitments:
“It’s a great place to be,” Burnett told GoBlueWolverine from the airport. “It’s a new coaching staff that would help me develop my game, and the Michigan degree is powerful.”
“The thing that stood out to me the most is the academic department.”
Burnett is the tenth commit in the 2015 class and the second who's expected to end up at receiver, along with in-state athlete Brian Cole.
|3*, #82 WR||3*, #59 WR||3*, 76, #139 WR||3*, 86, #97 WR||
3*, #85 WR,
All four services rank Burnett as a three-star, though there's a bit of a spread as to how good of a three-star he is—Rivals has him up at #59 at his position while ESPN has him way down at #139. They all agree he's got a relatively slight build; his listed size ranges from 5'11, 159 (Rivals) to an oddly specific 6'0.5", 166 (247).
Burnett was a late bloomer, going from a secondary target on his high school team to one of the better receivers in the West region over the last year. There was good reason for this—as a junior, Burnett played behind five-star athlete Adoree' Jackson (now at USC) and three-star receiver Jordan Lasley (UCLA). Scout's Brandon Huffman recently named him one of the five most improved prospects in the West from year one to year four:
Deontay Burnett - WR - Gardena (Calif.) Serra – Burnett emerged over the spring and summer as one of the top receivers out West. He has excellent quickness getting in and out of his breaks, has down field speed and can be a deep threat at the next level. He's also a natural pass catcher, very smooth in his route running and plays with surprising polish despite not being a full time starter until his senior year. He'll need to add size/strength but the natural ability is all there.
His breakout spring included standout performances at the IMG 7-on-7 West Regional and the B2G Elite Camp, and he capped off his senior year with MVP honors in the West Coast Bowl. Scout's Greg Biggins on Burnett's IMG performance:
Seems like every year, Gardena (Calif.) Serra has a receiver emerge over the spring. Last year it was Jordan Lasley, this year, it's Deontay Burnett. While Burnett may not have Lasley's top end speed, he runs well enough and was getting deep all tournament long. He's a natural pass catcher, a smooth route runner and is poised for a big senior year.
ESPN's evaluation notes his separation ability and ball skills:
Knows how to use his speed. Will change pace and burst to create a step on a defender. Is not only a talented receiver but demonstrates intelligence too. ...
Catches the ball well and naturally. He is comfortable reaching for a throw and also shows an ability to adjust while the ball is in the air. Will twist his body to make a difficult catch look easy.
They aren't as high on his size and think he's more of an intermediate threat than big-play guy due to a lack of top-end speed, though "he can make a defender miss."
Tim Sullivan got the rundown on Burnett from Rivals West analyst Adam Gorney after his commitment today:
"He's kind of wiry and athletic," Gorney said. "He's definitely not a power receiver kind of kid, but he's a kid that you can get the ball in his hands and turn him loose. At the B2G West Coast Bowl last weekend, they tried to get the ball in his hands and let him run He's always going to be that wiry strong kid - never a bulky receiver. He's not weak by any means - cornerbacks don't push him around - he'll put on some weight, but he never fills out that uniform.
"He has very good speed. He can get downfield - a big downfield threat - excellent hands. Once he adds weight, he'll work on consistently being able to bring it and deliver. If he does have a big game, he'll have to get used to it and not rest on his laurels, because he's only had a few big games at the high school level."
Gorney noted that a lack of opportunities as a junior and iffy quarterback play his senior season limited Burnett's exposure.
247's Clint Brewster provided a breakdown of Burnett's film ($):
Burnett is a patient route runner and does a nice job sticking his foot in the ground to get separation. He's good at selling his routes. Burnett is just a tad over 6-foot tall but he's got a long and rangy frame, making his catching radius very wide. He keeps a good relationship with his quarterback in scramble situations and finds a way to slip behind defenders. He's a hands-catcher that makes catches look easy, keeping the ball away from his body. Burnett has good moves and shiftiness after the catch but doesn't have blazing speed my any means. Has a nice hesitation move, and gets up to top speed quickly. He is a long strider that can eat up cushion by cornerbacks in off coverage.
Sullivan caught up with his high school coach, who praised his patience while waiting behind his talented teammates as well as his ability to track the ball:
"Early on, he was a quarterback in our system," Altenberg said. "I think that helped him pick up quickly when he moved out to wideout. The thing about him though, is he's one of the best ball-locators I've seen. He tracks the ball as well as any receiver I've coached. He has a natural gift for that - it's not an easy thing. He probably had five catches this year where he just jumped up and took it away from the guy in coverage, because he knew where it was going to be."
Burnett may not be a top-end prospect due his size and lack of blazing speed, but as a late pickup he's pretty solid—as you'll see on his film, he does a great job of tracking the ball in the air, and he's quick to get off the line and create separation on his routes.
Burnett had offers from Arizona State, Colorado State, Miami (YTM), Utah, and Washington State. He'd been committed to the Cougars since July.
Junipero Serra is one of California's top talent-producing high schools, especially at wide receiver. USC has been a major beneficiary—in addition to Jackson, who played both ways as a freshman in 2014, they pulled five-star receivers Robert Woods and George Farmer and four-star Marqise Lee from JS. The school also produced four-star WR Paul Richardson, who excelled at Colorado and will suit up for the Seahawks in tonight's Super Bowl.
After catching just 12 passes for 186 yards and two TDs as a junior, Burnett tallied 27 receptions for 545 yards and five TDs in 2014, per Rivals.
FAKE 40 TIME
ESPN and 247 both list a 40 time of 4.69, which appears to come from a SPARQ event and therefore gets zero FAKEs out of five.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Burnett should get a chance to redshirt this fall to focus on adding strength and learning the offense; Michigan brings back the entirety of their receiving corps aside from Devin Funchess. Down the road, Burnett looks like a player who could find a role in the slot or on the outside.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
While Michigan is running out of room in the 2015 class—they likely have five open spots at the moment, though that could get up to six or seven—it'll be interesting to see if they take another receiver, as Ole Miss commit Van Jefferson was on campus this weekend and there are rumblings he might want to join up, as well. Other needs include running back, tight end, defensive end, linebacker, and cornerback. TE Chris Clark, CB Iman Marshall, LB Roquan Smith, and RB Mike Weber remain the top targets left on the board.
And lo, the Sparty Bros chanted "Little Sister," for they had survived the onslaught from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Spike Albrecht, and Max Bielfeldt. The resilient Spartans nearly covered the spread in overtime, and this outstanding effort was well worth reinforcing their massive inferiority complex and questionable-at-best views on gender.
With this signature victory, MSU improved to 1-0 against Michigan in 2014-15, and 3-6 against them over the last five regular seasons.
Michigan (13-8, 6-3 B1G) at
Michigan State (14-7, 5-3)
East Lansing, Michigan
|WHEN||1 pm ET, Sunday|
|LINE||MSU -8 (KenPom)|
PBP: Ian Eagle
Analyst: Bill Raftery
This is ominous:
Beilein: Walton is limited in what he can do. Questionable for tomorrow.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) January 31, 2015
This is more ominous:
Beilein was asked if there's any concern he may have to sit Derrick Walton Jr for "an extended period of time." Beilein: "That's an option."
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) January 31, 2015
If that's on the table, it doesn't sound like Walton will play; even if he does, he'll still be quite limited. At this stage, it might be best to shut him down for a while.
This isn't a must-win for Michigan's tournament hopes, but a victory would help their prospects quite a bit. KenPom currently projects M to finish with a 10-8 conference record, and they'll need that to be at least 11-7 to have a good shot of grabbing a bid, in all likelihood. Of the remaining games on the schedule, this is the one KenPom least likes M to win—his numbers give a 17% chance at victory. Pulling this off would change the outlook dramatically.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||20||Travis Trice||Sr.||6'0, 170||82||25||No|
|Disciplined and productive distributor. Dangerous outside shooter. Not great inside arc.|
|G||5||Bryn Forbes||Jr.||6'3, 180||69||14||No|
|Spot-up gunner hitting 47% of threes.|
|G||45||Denzel Valentine||Jr.||6'5, 220||70||28||No|
|Does a bit of everything: rebounding, passing, shooting, and hilarious turnovers.|
|F||22||Branden Dawson||Sr.||6'6, 225||82||22||Very|
|Great athlete, monster on the boards, excellent defender. Not a shot creator.|
|F||34||Gavin Schilling||So.||6'9, 240||45||20||Very|
|Solid rebounder and rim protector. Decent finisher.|
|F||10||Matt Costello||Jr.||6'9, 245||45||18||Very|
|Very similar minutes and profile as Schilling. Eminently elbowable face.|
|G||11||Lowrawls "Tum Tum" Nairn||Fr.||5'10, 170||37||13||Very|
|All-pass, no-shoot PG who's prone to freshman mistakes.|
|G||2||Javon Bess||Fr.||6'5, 215||29||16||Kinda|
|Good rebounder, defender earned starting job before spraining ankle. May be limited.|
While MSU has come close to a marquee win a few times—a five-point loss against #12 Kansas, overtime losses to #13 Notre Dame and #34 Maryland—they've yet to beat a team ranked higher than #44 Iowa on KenPom. With the exception of losses against Texas Southern and Nebraska, they've beaten the teams they should and lost to the teams you'd expect.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Like Michigan, the Spartans lost a great deal since last year: Adreian Payne, Gary Harris, and Keith Appling were all big-time players who are now gone, and losing stretch four Kenny Kaminski hurt, too.
That means much of the scoring load has fallen on Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine, tertiary options last year who've been thrust into leading roles. Trice has gone from a guy who was often asked to be a spot-up shooter to the main ballhandler—something he's done quite well—and leading scorer. He's a dangerous outside shooter who's still not much of a threat inside the arc.
Valentine remains a solid all-around player—he's second on the team in points, rebounds, and assists per game—and he's upped his efficiency thanks to improved shooting across the board. His turnover rate remains above 20%, though; he'll make a couple decisions per game that bring Izzo ever closer to a rage-aneurysm.
Transfer Bryn Forbes has regained the starting two-guard spot after briefly losing it to freshman Javon Bess. After Forbes got off to a slow start, he's become to spot-up gunner MSU was hoping for when he came in from Cleveland State—he's hitting 47% of his threes on the season and has knocked down over half his attempts in conference play. While he doesn't do much else, he has to be accounted for at all times. Bess is a better rebounder and defender, though not much of a scorer, and he started three straight games before a sprained ankle in practice limited him to just nine minutes in State's most recent game.
Branden Dawson is Branden Dawson: a hellacious force on the boards, an excellent defender, and a guy who's usually going to end up scoring double figures on shots that rarely originate outside the paint. His efficiency has taken a hit as State has relied on him more offensively, but he'll be a really tough matchup for Michigan's wings.
Gavin Schilling and Matt Costello split minutes at the five evenly, and they bring pretty much the same skill-set to the lineup. Both are solid finishers around the basket who post good rebounding and block rates. Schilling remains foul-prone but not to the outrageous degree he was last season as a freshman.
The other rotation player of note is point guard Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn, a diminutive, low-usage freshman who's a decent passer but not much of a scoring threat at all.
We've got enough of a sample size that these stats are now conference-only.
This is definitely an Izzo team. The defense, ranked first in the conference, dominates the paint and gives up very few second-chance opportunities. They also a foul a lot, but make up for it by giving up few good looks from inside or out.
The MSU offense is great on the glass and otherwise pretty average. They haven't shot the ball very well in conference play, and they're coughing up the rock more than is ideal, but they've largely made up for that with their work on the boards.
Limit Dawson. Dawson missed both regular-season losses against Michigan last season, then went off in MSU's Big Ten tourney blowout, and GRIII was a much better matchup for Dawson than Zak Irvin. While Irvin's been better on the boards of late, he'll have to turn in one of the best performances of his career to limit Dawson's output.
Risk the zone? John Beilein will have a tough choice as to what to do defensively. Playing man could expose the team's weaknesses up front, but Trice and Forbes will be accounted for on the perimeter. Playing zone could get Michigan off and running against a State squad prone to turnovers—which could be huge given their defense's stingy nature—but it could pose problems against MSU's outside shooters and rebounders.
Attack the basket. There's going to be a lot of pressure on MAAR to create offense with Walton likely out. MAAR's looked good recently, showing off both the ability to get to the rim and finish once he gets there. That could be exactly what M needs against MSU, which doesn't give up many outside shots but hacks quite a bit when opponents get into the paint. To keep up with State, Michigan is likely going to need to get to the line a lot more than they usually do.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan State by 8.
Going into Breslin without Walton (or with a very limited Walton) is a scary proposition, and MSU's rebounding could be very tough to handle for M's front line.
UMHoops preview. Maize n Brew preview. MnB's Drew Hallett on the four-year anniversary of the Aneurysm of Leadership/Stu Douglass dagger game in Breslin:
All of this success for Michigan, which the program hadn't experienced for two decades, can be traced back to that Douglass three-pointer. Sure, a claim can be made Michigan would have made it here once Burke arrived even if Douglass missed that shot and the Spartans won on the final possession. But that'd be vastly underestimating the effect that win had on that locker room and the impressionable culture of Michigan basketball.
MLive's Brendan Quinn on Max Bielfeldt's uncertain future—John Beilein may be considering the possibility of bringing Moose back for his final year of eligibility:
"I think we'll stay with where we are right now," Beilein said of the original option for Bielfeldt to depart as a graduate transfer. "He's going to have all kinds of decisions probably at the end of the year on different things, but I think that's the best plan going forward. He should be playing right now, so if he does want to play a fifth year, he would be very highly recruited. Whether it's (by) me or someone else, that's the puzzle we've got to put together."
That decision may depend on whether Michigan can add a big man to their currently empty 2015 class.
This appears to be an effective hedge. [Fuller]
Brian directed me to an excellent Vantage Sports article detailing how NBA teams defend the on-ball screen earlier this week and suggested it would be a good idea to take a closer look at how Michigan does it. Before getting into the Wolverines specifically, a look at the three basic ways to defend this:
- Hard Hedge — The way M's done it the most under Beilein. The defender guarding the screener (usually a big man) aggressively slides out on the ballhandler to cut off a drive to the basket and make quick passes more difficult. This temporarily commits two defenders to the ballhandler and usually requires quick rotation from the other defenders on the court.
- Soft Show — A less aggressive approach that still briefly commits two defenders to the ballhandler, in this case the defender guarding the screener moves next to the screener, cutting off a drive directly to the hoop; he doesn't move all the way out on the ballhandler, however, and dives back to the screener after cutting off the initial drive. This still requires some weakside rotation.
- Drop Back — The conservative tack. The defender on the screener drops back (surprise!) into the paint, discouraging the ballhandler from driving while also lessening the burden on other defenders to rotate onto the roll man. This does require the defender on the ballhandler to fight over the screen well, otherwise there's room for a pull-up three.
As best I can tell, college teams favor the more aggressive approaches. This is likely due to two things: pro point guards are really damn good, and there's less space inside the arc to cover in college, making it easier to recover after a hard or soft hedge.
I went through the last three games—Rutgers, Wisconsin, and Nebraska—to see how Michigan defended the pick-and-roll. I found nine instances in which Michigan was in man defense against a P&R*; six times they hedged hard and three times they played a soft show. The results:
A few takeaways with picture pages after THE JUMP.
Michigan still hard hedges most of the time. If you've watched the Wolverines under Beilein, this isn't a surprise. One of Jordan Morgan's hidden talents was his ability to cover the requisite ground quickly to make this effective.
Max Bielfeldt is better at this than Ricky Doyle. In part due to the fact that Bielfeldt is smaller and more mobile, in part because Bielfeldt is just more experienced, the lone senior on M's roster is most adept at the hard hedge. (I realize we're working with a tiny sample size here, but this is something I've noticed earlier this season, too.)
Here's a Doyle example (0:13 mark of the video). The setup—Walter Pitchford is setting a high screen for Terran Pettaway:
Doyle jumps out on Pettaway, as he's supposed to do, but while he prevents the drive he doesn't get his body into Pettaway.
This makes it way too easy for Pettaway to pull up and swing the ball around the perimeter. With Doyle still far away from recovering, Spike Albrecht is stuck guarding Pitchford in the post to prevent an easy dunk. Aubrey Dawkins is playing one-on-two on the near side. One pass...
Wide open three. (He made it.)
Let's compare that to an similar play in the second half run against Bielfeldt (0:37 mark). Pitchford sets a screen for Pettaway:
Bielfeldt takes a more aggressive angle than Doyle did, forcing Pettaway to give ground to avoid barreling over him:
Bielfeldt sticks with Pettaway as he ends up on the other side of the court, positioning himself so a pass is difficult:
Equally impressive is Bielfeldt's quick recovery. Pettaway is finally able to swing the ball back to Pitchford (who popped instead of rolled), and by the time Pitchford gets it to the corner, Bielfeldt is back under the basket, allowing Zak Irvin to closely contest the corner three:
The shot is an airball, and Bielfeldt identifies the Nebraska player sneaking in from the opposite corner, boxes him out, and helps corral the rebound:
This may be one of the reasons Michigan's played more zone as the season's moved on. Their best big man against the high screen is just 6'7" and prone to getting worked in the post by larger centers—Beilein tends to go zone immediately upon inserting Bielfeldt in the game.
Meanwhile, the freshman bigs don't have the technique of pick-and-roll defense down yet, and they're not quick to recover; the first couple clips in the video feature some slow rotations after the initial screen.
Incomplete data on the soft show... but I don't think I like it. The soft show only featured three times in the video—twice against Rutgers, a team so averse to running any semblance of an offense that it's tough to glean anything from watching them play.
It works fine against the half-assed screens set by Rutgers' big man in the first two clips—RU only gets a decent shot on the first one because Derrick Walton makes the unwise decision to leave his feet on the perimeter. The final clip shows what I don't like about it. Michigan doesn't have very good perimeter defenders, and without a hard hedge from the big, it's easy for the ballhandler to work his way into the lane. Nebraska didn't score on that possession, but they got the ball to a big man in solid post position after Terran Smith managed to work his way into the paint.
Any conclusions? I'm still of the mind that this Michigan squad needs to be a majority zone team, and this exercise didn't do much to change that opinion.
*Remember, they've played a ton of zone recently.
Also via his instagram. Like Bellomy and Hayes, Heitzman has a degree and fifth year to play elsewhere. He moved to tight end last year in an effort to get some blocking at that position but didn't play much; with the rest of the TE corps returning plus one or two recruits and Bunting coming off a redshirt he didn't figure to get more playing time this year.
Current scholarship count remains fuzzy since there are a number of walk-ons who may or may not have earned a full-time gig. Our current assumption is that both Glasgows are on scholarship but Joe Kerridge and Kenny Allen are first-in-line types who aren't figuring in Michigan's recruiting plans. If that's the case, Michigan currently stands at 15 slots.
Via Bellomy's instagram:
I will receive my degree at the end of this semester and have decided to sign my release that enables me to play my 5th year as a graduate student at another university.
Bellomy was well down the depth chart at QB.
His departure brings Michigan to 14 scholarships for the incoming class plus any additional attrition; this is the bit where I remind you that Brady Hoke said he expected a couple of OL to not return and project that Michigan will sign 16 or 17 players in this class.