...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
ball so hard (Dustin Johnston/UMHoops)
With a conveniently-located bye week we took the opportunity to preview the basketball team.
POINT GUARD. Derrick Walton doesn't have to be Trey Burke to replicate his freshman year stats. Spike throwing it in; Caris being huge?
NOT JUST A SHOOTING GUARD. Drink. Stauskas is jacked. Stauskas is good at the pick and roll. Stauskas needs to shoot well from more places than the corner. Caris also here.
SMALL FORWARD. I believe by midseason Zak Irvin will demand 30 minutes a game, which will come here. Glenn Robinson III will get the rest of the minutes and hopefully be an aggressive monster.
SOMEWHAT LARGER FORWARD. GRIII, McGary, Morgan (who'll play the 4 defensively if he's out there with another big.)
CENTER. Oh man please don't let the back issue be a thing.
Michigan State is CLEARLY the favorite, says Ace. This leads to a conversation about the nature of clarity and almost gets Ace to throw his shoe at me. I say two-seed in the tourney.
TALKING BIG TEN WITH JOHN GASAWAY
Always a privilege to talk with Big Ten Wonk. This is Iowa's year to break through! No, seriously. This time. Indiana fall off, Michigan State CLEARLY the favorite.
The usual links:
Wilson pictures are thin on the ground. Via Rivals.
CA SF/PF DJ Wilson has committed to Michigan. Informative update…
IS ALREADY HERE, YEAHHHH
|3*, #135 overall||3*, NR||3*, NR overall
|3*, #219 overall
Wilson's ratings are pretty meh. He's a skinny 6'9" kid who was injured for much of the all-important evaluation periods the last couple years and put up about ten points a game when healthy. So those rankings are legit, for generic club X.
For Michigan, he's a fit for what they want to do and may outperform the middling-at-best expectations above. John Beilein likes three things: length, shooting, and intelligence. Wilson brings all three in spades. His AAU coach:
"D.J. can shoot it, handle it and pass it at 6'9 and is just scratching the surface in his basketball career. He is going to surprise a lot of people. He's a great kid and an extremely hard worker who wants to be really good at his craft. Schools just wanted to see if the back was an issue and clearly it's not."
At 6'9", he's a jumbo wing in the extreme or good-sized stretch four. He's got a sweet jumper with range out to three, and he's a 4.0 student who took an official visit to Columbia. The one in New York.
That back issue held him out for the entirety of last year's AAU circuit, which held his rankings down. He missed a big chunk of this year's, as well. This is from late July:
The last player into the 2014 Rivals150 at No. 150, D.J. Wilson has been sidelined by injuries for most of the past six months. Finally healthy, the 6-foot-8 combo forward from Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian is starting to show some things. …
What jumps out immediately about Wilson is his ability to stroke deep jump shots and the ease with which things seem to come to him on the offensive end. Because of his size and skill, he plays as a both a plus-sized wing or a face-up four who can stretch defenses and knock down shots.
Another evaluation from that tourney:
DJ Wilson had the college coaches buzzing with his play. Standing at 6’8” with a skinny frame, Wilson showed off a text book jump shot and went 3-3 from behind the line in a strong first half performance. His shot was smooth and effortless with range several feet behind the arc. When pressured Wilson used a pump fake to drive to the basket and finished with a soft floater.
Has a knack for doing a lot of things on the court and being very efficient. Wilson rebounds the ball well, handles, looks to get contact in the paint, and shows a nice touch with his left. Uses his length to his advantage on defense as well.
Here a lack of ridiculous athleticism is made up for by sheer length and craft.
A lack of assertiveness and questions about his energy level are the other consistent complaints, which get referenced even when he's playing well. Scout:
…back on the court Saturday and looked really good. Wilson hasn’t stopped growing and has now hit the 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9 range, only adding to his value as a prospect. Wilson played harder than he has in the past, scored on the offensive glass and hit three triples off the catch. He’s a project but no doubt has upside.
ESPN's evaluation loves his upside ("quintessential frame with long arms and overall great length"; "great ball skills"; "impressive" three point shot") but lingers on a lack of energy exerted on both ends of the floor, especially when it comes to rebounding and defending. Hopefully that's an evaluation impacted by the lingering back issues.
Those back issues are a concern, as they had the specter of something chronic with their duration and consistent flare-ups. The CU Rivals site has the best description of what went down there:
The spring was a successful one, until injuring his back and having to sit out the July live period. An inconsistent recovery looked to be completed when Wilson averged 15.4 points per game over the first seven of the season.
But problems with his back creeped back up, eventually keeping him out of this past spring evaluation period because of inflammation.
"I could have played but I'd rather wait until summer," he said of sitting out the spring. "I didn't want to risk anything."
FWIW, his doctor told Wilson that the injuries were "things that only happen once."
Likes ice cream.
Wilson had offers from Gonzaga, Cal, Colorado, USC, Harvard, Columbia, and a few others. There were reports that everyone who lost out on Chatman (Oregon, USC, and Arizona) tried to get Wilson to dump his M visit and visit them this weekend, FWIW.
FAKE 40 TIME
Square root of negative one fakes. You can't write i these days without getting it autocorrected at the start of a sentence.
Junior year video:
UMHoops scouting video:
Wilson features extensively in a recent Capital Christian workout video that is for hardcore folks only:
One-on-ones start at about seven minutes and are the most interesting bit. Also the difference in Wilson's body from video one to this recent one jumps out; guy has done a lot of work despite the back injury.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
If you're still betting against Beilein's ability to unearth talent, you're hanging out at the penny slots swearing a lot. Don't sweat the rankings too much. Wilson's a high-upside project who fits well with Beilein's system and is a good bet to maximize his potential. He's an academic fit who should be able to generate shots with his brain in Beilein's system, and his injury makes it likely he's underrated.
ESPN compared Kam Chatman to Tayshaun Prince, but it's Wilson who's eerily reminiscent of the lanky 6'10" shooter and long-armed devil, down to that baby hook in the lane that is one of Prince's go-to moves. Wilson brings the stretch four shooting and good-enough driving ability that Prince does; he's skinny and lacks crazy athleticism but is also good enough in those areas.
The downside here is Evan Smotrycz: a quality-shooting stretch four with the ability to get to the basket who's allergic to rebounds and defense and eventually drives Beilein so crazy he bites his head off like a bat. Then he transfers to Maryland. Wilson, not Beilein. Or the bat. Bat's dead, bro.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Wilson fills one of Michigan's combo forward slots; since they were willing to take both Wilson and Donte Grantham it seems they will woo a few guys going forward, most prominently Australian transplant combo forward Jonah Bolden.
Bolden's recruitment will end in the spring; Michigan's pursuit of a shooting guard is going to conclude much more quickly, with both IN SG James Blackmon Jr and MS SG Devin Booker likely off the board by the end of the month. If Michigan gets one of those plan A SGs it's status quo—unless there's attrition, Bolden or bust for scholarship #5 and only if Bolden plays like a must-take—but if they miss on both they might hold onto scholarship #4 if they feel confident in Bolden and confident they can get away with a class consisting almost entirely of skinny combo forwards, especially if OH SG Javon Bess is off the board to Michigan State by then.
Can they? I think so unless they're getting early entry vibes from Stauskas. He'll have two more years when this class arrives, as will Caris LeVert. You could even slide Zak Irvin down if you wanted; Michigan does just fine with SGs who are more shooter than penetrator, and gol dang if that's not a huge lineup.
Michigan just landed OR SF Kameron Chatman according to various folks but most importantly Kameron Chatman. At 6'7", Chatman is either a 3 or 4 at Michigan and is a consensus top 50 player. He joins FL C Ricky Doyle in a 2014 class that will likely grow to four.
|4*, #23 overall
|4*, #29 overall||4*, #49 overall
|4*, #36 overall
Chatman's ratings are in a tight, elite range with ESPN, the relative skeptic, still declaring him a top-50 player. Scout's the most optimistic, placing him one spot from a five star rating. Everyone rates him as a small forward, but at 6'7" with ostentatiously long arms, Chatman could easily play the 4 in Beilein's system if he fills out—he's currently 25 pounds short of Glenn Robinson III's 220.
Robinson's actually a good comparison in terms of profile, as Chatman shot up recruiting boards after an impressive AAU season as a rising junior. For example, he debuted in Scout's top 100 at #42 last July, and since then he's continued to rise incrementally. His rankings are only a few slots short of where Robinson's finished.
A growth spurt from 6'3" to his current 6'7" has a lot to do with that. That necessarily leaves him a skinny guy still adjusting from his previous guard role to more of a wing/post role. This creates an UPSIDE (but raw) theme in a lot of his evaluations. Rivals's generic profile eval is a good example:
Big wing is still developing and growing into his body. One of the top rebounding wings in the class of 2014 and a very alert playmaker off the dribble. A good mid range jump shooter who is extending his range. His toughness allows him to play as a skilled four in a small lineup.
ESPN's Dave Telep was gaga about the guy, but strictly as a developmental prospect:
5. Kameron Chatman, SF: I'm feeling out on a limb here with Chatman. When I watch him, I see a guy in need of a cheeseburger and a weight room but with the potential to be a pro someday. Others receive more attention, but to me, there's something about his overall skill set and lack of physical development that makes me his potential exciting. I'd have no problem taking a flier on him and labeling him as one of the best 25 prospects in the class.
Telep would later name him the guy most likely to track down his peers late in the recruiting process, citing his "monster ceiling"; ESPN's evaluation praises his "terrific frame with very long arms and overall great length."
What Chatman promises is a tantalizing combination of point forward skills…
What you have to love about the 6-foot-6 (and growing) Chatman is his versatility. At times, he brings the ball up the floor and initiates the offense, others he plays on the wing, and then he plays in the high post and the offense is run through him there.
…as skilled as any player in the West, capable of playing any position from 1-4. …could end up closer to 6-foot-8 or taller by the time he hits a college court. His ball handling skills are fantastic for a player his size and he's a quality passer with point guard instincts.
…a slick passer with excellent court vision who understands how to predict defensive movements. Both on the interior and at range, he alertly hits cutters and spots open teammates on the block.
…very young-looking, and still pretty slender, but he’s one of the elite prospects in the west for 2014. He’s got a nice lefty stroke that’s good to about the stripe, a point guard’s feel for the game and excellent ball skills.
…Beilein-thrilling basketball IQ…
superbly skilled 6-foot-6 wing/forward is beginning to grow into his maturing body. His length, high basketball IQ and point guard mentality make him one of the more unique prospects in the west for 2014.
This kid just knows how to play the game. …basketball IQ is one of the best in his class out west. The versatile forward usually positions himself perfectly on the glass, which helps him corral rebounds on both ends and when he has the ball, he doesn’t take long to use his high level vision to make the right pass to a teammate.
…and excellent rebounding for a wing-ish guy.
He is also a way-above-average rebounder for a wing.
His rebounding stands out. Chatman is a conscientious boards-man on both ends, and he's especially dangerous on the offensive glass.
…benefits handsomely from outstanding height and length. He's not only long, he plays big because he doesn't mind contact and has a knack for using his knees, hips and elbows to clear space.
…he did connect on a couple of high arching mid-range jumpers Chatman struggled for the most part this weekend.
His jump shot can be hit or miss, but the southpaw wields a very high-arching shot that's difficult to block.
His mid-range jumper was falling and his three-point shot arches so high it looks like it might hit the rafters. When he's connecting from the outside it really opens up the rest of his game.
…that may indicate he's never going to be a Stauskas gunner. There is a trajectory that is the trajectory basketball has agreed upon is the right one, and if you deviate from that significantly you're either a savant or not a high-end shooter. A number of the evals do say he's got a good mid-range jumper and can extend out to the three point line. I'd guess he's going to be like GRIII in that department, at least to start: he'll take open threes and connect at a mediocre rate.
The other downsides are the usual with a kid who hit the late growth spurt that leaves him a jumbo guy with mad skills: he's skinny, and can be awkward at times. Scout sums him up:
Chatman may open his career as a highly regarded utility player, rather than someone who's ready to step in and become a first or second scoring option. He's still seeking a polished offensive identity, but while he's cultivating his scoring attack he'll nevertheless contribute in myriad other aspects.
Chatman's main suitors were Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, USC, and Connecticut. He also had offers from Memphis, UCLA, Washington, and a couple others.
FAKE 40 TIME
Wait a minute, this is a basketball post.
There's very little out there, as Chatman missed his junior year after a transfer to California.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Chatman's a boom-or-bust type in the mold of a… uh. Sam Dekker? That's the best I've got in the current Big Ten. Dekker was a beanpole 6'7" recruit with excellent ballhandling skills for his size; Chatman is similar. Chatman is more of a rebounder, less of a shooter (Dekker was 39% from three in year one) and probably will have a similar impact as a freshman.
The ESPN guys compared him to Tayshawn Prince, which is another possibility if he extends his shooting range to three and grows another couple inches. Also, remember when you were sad that Keita Bates-Diop shocked people by picking Ohio State? Well, they cloned that dude and called him Kameron Chatman.
When Chatman enters next year Michigan will be down Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary, and Glenn Robinson III. That'll probably pull Andrew Donnall towards the five, leaving most of the minutes at the four for Chatman, Zak Irvin, and whoever the second combo forward is in this class.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Chatman's commitment gives Michigan flexibility for the final two guys, as he could be considered a three or four for Beilein depending on whether they get more of a wing type or a post type with guy #4; #3 is going to be a shooting guard.
That leaves Donte Grantham, DJ Wilson, and Jonah Bolden in play. Grantham is deciding this week between Michigan and Clemson, and Wilson is a presumed lock if Grantham doesn't grab the last spot. Assuming one of the first two drops, Michigan will have to execute some contortions if it's going to add Bolden in the late signing period; he'll have to establish himself as just too good not to take in his year at Findlay Prep if Michigan is going to add him as a fifth guy in 2014.
Chatman had struck up a relationship with MS SG Devin Booker, FWIW, and that may help alleviate the Tyler Ulis pull at Kentucky. Michigan's pretty much stuck waiting for Booker or James Blackmon Jr to pick Kentucky and hoping to swoop in on the one still out there.