[Original photo: Bryan Fuller]
Jon Horford's unexpected decision to transfer will hurt Michigan's frontcourt depth regardless of the NBA Draft decisions of Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. Senior big men with significant playing experience don't grow on trees, and even though Horford struggled down the stretch he posted very impressive rebounding rates while shooting 57% from the field and easily recording the highest block rate on the team.
John Beilein's made multiple mentions of his willingness to look to transfers as a means to improve the team, and—perhaps knowing what we didn't at the time—he reiterated his stance this week:
Beilein expressed a ready willingness to accept transfer players, depending on NBA attrition in this offseason and anticipating more after next season.
“I would be open to transfers,” the coach said. “At Canisius and Richmond and West Virginia, transfers were really important to us. If we have openings and there are transfers who fit who we are, we would be open to that.”
ESPN's Jeff Goodman compiled a master list of all currently available transfers. The list is quite long and not particularly useful for this exercise; if Michigan wants to fill the gap Horford leaves, they'll be looking at a grad-year transfer who'll be eligible to play right away—the only potential exception would be a player with a case for a hardship waiver.
Villanova blog VU Hoops helpfully narrowed Goodman's list to the available grad-year transfers, and I've further cut down their table to frontcourt players. The list is short, and not particularly distinguished:
|M.J. Rhett||Tennessee State||F||6'9"||10.9||9.1||0.8|
|Malik Thomas||Boston University||F||6'7"||5.8||4.0||1.2|
Unfortunately for Michigan, none of these players seems to fit the criteria needed to be worth offering, which would be...
- The ability to come in and play more effectively than the current options on the roster. If McGary goes pro, U-M would need someone who could at least compete for a starting spot.
- Any interest in Michigan whatsoever.
None of these players is a true center, which is a tough break. Jordan Allen (88 ORtg for a bad Hofstra squad), Austin Etherington, and Sommy Ogukwe can be eliminated with one look at their respective stat sheets.
Jeylani Dublin could potentially provide depth—he shot 55% from the field with a top-100 OReb rate last season—but the fact that he played less than half of the available minutes for Longwood, KenPom's 343rd-ranked team with a bottom-ten defense, raises some red flags. Malik Thomas is intruiging given his impressive defensive rebounding (18.0 DR%). However, he's just 6'7, 190 pounds, struggles with his shot, and turns the ball over at what I'd expect to be an unacceptably high rate for Beilein's system.
That leaves Tennessee State's M.J. Rhett, and there's no question he'd be a good fit—he's 6'9", 235 pounds, rebounds very well on both ends, blocks a decent number of shots, and finishes efficiently with a knack for getting to the line. As you'd expect, though, he's the most hotly-pursued player on this list, and his list of schools under consideration—Oklahoma State, Tulane, ASU, Miami, Tennessee, and Mississippi, per Goodman—doesn't include Michigan or any team remotely close to the Midwest. He plans to make a decision two weekends from now, and it appears Tennessee and Miami are the two most likely destinations.
A couple other players on Goodman's list of top available transfers($) fit the bill, but one is already ticketed for Ohio State (ex-Temple F Anthony Lee) and the other, Virginia Tech center Trevor Thompson, has already narrowed his list to three Big Ten schools:
Transferring Virginia Tech basketball player Trevor Thompson announced on Twitter Monday morning that, in no order, Big Ten rivals Indiana, Ohio State and Purdue are his top three options with a decision planned in the next couple weeks.
Thompson will be just a sophomore next year, but Goodman mentions the potential for a waiver, presumably due to VT's coaching change. For Michigan's purposes, however, that's a moot point—he's going elsewhere unless the Wolverines come out of nowhere to make a late push, and that would surprise given there's no guarantee Thompson could even play next season.
Unless another fifth-year senior makes a surprise transfer decision like Horford, it appears Michigan will have to go another route to replace him for next season.
underneath the Banyan tree, wherever he goes
University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beileinannounced today (Thursday, April 10) that senior forward Jon Horford (Grand Ledge, Mich./Grand Ledge HS) will not return to the Wolverine program in 2014-15, planning to transfer for his final season of eligibility.
That is not good. With Jordan Morgan graduating, Michigan's only other post is Mitch McGary. Even if he comes back next year, Horford figured to get a significant amount of playing time when McGary was tired or in foul trouble.
While Horford struggled badly down the stretch, you could say the same for Jordan Morgan last year and that worked out okay. Fifth-year senior bigs tend to be better than you'd expect. Horford's departure opens up time for Mark Donnal and likely means a redshirt for Ricky Doyle is no longer an option. That latter is unfortunate; again, see Jordan Morgan.
The one possible silver lining here is that the reason Horford is moving on is that he feels he'll get more playing time elsewhere, a decision that implies McGary's return and maybe even Robinson's since that would increase competition for minutes everywhere. It's hard to believe he would skip town with 30 minutes a night staring him in the face. But Horford was always a bit of a different guy.
Come on guys, do you know there's a basketball game tonight?
Anyway: along with Thomas Rawls, Michigan has announced that Josh Furman and Richard Ash are exiting the program. Both would have been fifth year seniors and can presumably transfer and be eligible immediately as long as they have graduated.
Both Furman and Ash were pressed into the first extensive duty of their career late in the year, with Furman getting a couple of starts due to injury in the safety corps and Ash being rolled out to see if he could somewhat delay the runaway train that was the OSU rushing offense. The answer there was NOPE, and Furman was also not too good in his limited time.
Michigan now has 85 slot allotted for next year's roster, and there are a couple of other players in unfavorable depth chart situations who might look for greener pastures themselves.
MLive reporter Eric Woodyard has tweeted that Thomas Rawls is transferring to Central Michigan. The writing was on the wall for Rawls after being passed by not only two freshman tailbacks but—at least in the land of depth charts—Drake Johnson. Rawls didn't see a carry after the opener despite the chaos at tailback, and wasn't going to next year. This has likely been in the works for a while, as Michigan started pursuing a tailback in the 2014 recruiting class a couple months ago.
Rawls was a Signing Day add in the Rodriguez/Hoke transitional class with generic three star hype from everyone except Fred Jackson, who made ludicrous comparisons to Mark Ingram because that's what Fred Jackson does.
I'll wait until spring practice is over to update the Attrition Watch fully; for now just know that Rawls is the eighth member of the 21-man 2011 class to depart. With Desmond Morgan, Frank Clark, Blake Countess, Brennen Beyer, and Raymon Taylor looking like starting-quality players, the 2011 outfit is marginally better than 2010. Marginally being your key word there.
Michigan will go into spring with a tentative depth chart like so:
- Derrick Green
- DeVeon Smith
- Justice Hayes
- Drake Johnson
abs, special teams: out
They're dropping like not-particularly-likley-to-see-the-field flies up in here. Over the last 12 hours, Scout's Andre Barthwell and Sam Webb broke the news that Michigan has lost Marvin Robinson and Mike Jones from the roster.
As departure impacts go, these are near the bottom of the scale. Both were going to be seniors (Jones was a fifth year) and neither was likely to see much playing time outside of special teams. These exits don't affect the two deep or the projected numbers for the 2014 class.
Robinson and his heralded abs never got a foothold on playing time, probably because he never shook the sort of bad habits that made him the primary culprit on that long run a couple of spring games ago where Robinson never figured out the WR he was trying to check was blocking him. He'll have to sit out a year and then he'll have one to play if he doesn't go I-AA. He probably should have moved to WLB immediately upon his arrival at M.
Jones meanwhile was not a touted recruit and never saw the field even when Michigan was scrambling at the WLB spot in 2011. His main on-field contribution was to pick up a dumb personal foul against OSU last year. (Off the field, he provided many opportunities for people to say WHO? because of a rapper who is now ironically forgotten, or at least would be if his song wasn't about his name.)
The main downside is if their absence forces Michigan to play a couple kids who otherwise would have redshirted on coverage teams and the like. If Ben Gedeon plays despite not projecting to the two deep at MLB either this year or next, I'll be a little cheesed off.
Michigan now has a slot for a hypothetical fifth-year QB transfer, say Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell. Mitchell who is reported to be considering Michigan along with NC State and three smaller schools. As per usual these guys are leaving to play, though, so unless Michigan can sell Mitchell on a slash role a la Gardner he'll probably head to a place he can at least compete for the starting QB job.