Basketball Season Review: Bigs

Basketball Season Review: Bigs

Submitted by Ace on March 30th, 2012 at 5:14 PM


From our very own Zack Novak photoshop thread.

This is part two of the hoops season recap; part one, covering the guards, can be found here.

It should not come as a surprise to those who have followed John Beilein's Michigan squads that a post covering the team's "bigs" would feature a photo of 6'4" Zack Novak at the top of the post. Michigan entered the season relatively thin in the frontcourt, and things only got worse when backup center Jon Horford suffered a stress fracture in his right foot in December, an injury that would ultimately sideline him for the remainder of the season. When Evan Smotrycz suffered through a brutal slump to start conference play, Novak found himself starting at power forward, reprising his role from years past instead of playing his natural two-guard position.

While Michigan got solid seasons out of Novak and Jordan Morgan, along with some inspired efforts from Smotrycz, the lack of size up front was the team's greatest weakness. This was exposed each time Michigan played Ohio State or Michigan State, especially away from Crisler, and even when all of the bigs got in foul trouble at Northwestern and Colton Christian played important minutes at center. This shouldn't be as much of an issue next season with the addition of Mitch McGary and the return of Horford, but Smotrycz's departure hurts. Let's look back on each player's individual contributions:

Jordan Morgan

Preseason Expectations: Morgan entered the season as the returning starter after a surprising redshirt freshman season, but he still had to hold off Jon Horford to keep the job. The hope was that he'd develop his post game while continuing to play solid defense, rebound, and hit his fair share of high-percentage shots.

Postseason Reality: Morgan still hasn't displayed much in the way of a back-to-the-basket game, and he missed a maddeningly large amount of layups. The latter point was a source of great frustration, along with his propensity for early foul trouble, but overall Morgan was quite solid in the middle. His defense improved—including a sharp decline in foul rate—his rebounding was solid, and he shot just a hair under 62% from the field. Trey Burke didn't look to Morgan as much as Darius Morris did last year, and there was a clear adjustment period while he got used to playing with a different style of point guard. While there wasn't a big leap forward in Morgan's offensive game, as many had hoped, he did not regress, either. Meanwhile, he was in better shape, running the floor well and consistently posting strong defensive performances. Morgan probably isn't ever going to be an offensive force, nor a intimidating shot-blocker—the touch and explosive athleticism just aren't there—but he's a solid presence who should end up as a four-year starter.

Highlight: The Ohio State win was the most memorable of the season, and it was also the best game of Morgan's career, as he posted his first double-double—11 points (5-8 from the field) and 11 rebounds—while limiting Jared Sullinger to 14 points on 6-14 shooting. Morgan also beat Sullinger down the court for a pair of thunderous dunks in transition.

Lowlight: When Michigan matched up against Ohio State in the conference tournament, things didn't go so well. The Buckeyes dominated the Wolverines inside, and Morgan could only muster three points (1-5 shooting) and four rebounds while turning the ball over three times.

Key Numbers: 61.9 2pt%, 17.8 DR%, 3.9 fouls committed/40 minutes

Next year: Morgan should start at center once again, and it would be nice to see him break out a go-to post move. Mostly, however, Michigan will need him as a rebounder/defender/screen-setter, which falls right into his comfort zone. Also, make layups, please.

Zack Novak

Preseason Expectations: Novak was expected to make a grand return to shooting guard, where the hope was that is offensive production would rise now that he no longer had to guard players a half-foot taller while shouldering a large part of the rebounding load.

Postseason Reality: Novak, of course, had to slide back to power forward when Smotrycz was benched early in Big Ten play, and for the fourth straight year his play improved despite not being the focal point of the team. He shot very well from the field—56% on twos, 41% on threes—and posted the team's best ORtg—his 123.3 mark was 39th in the country. Then, of course, you get Novak's trademark grit, as he still marveled with his ability to rebound among the trees while providing solid defense against players who theoretically should be dunking all over him (sometimes they did, but that happens when you're a 6'4" post player). Novak finished his career as the consummate role player, knocking down threes, hitting big shots when called upon, and otherwise doing everything to raise the level of play from his teammates. Michigan fans may not miss having a natural shooting guard at power forward when the 2012 reinforcements arrive, but they'll sure miss Zack Novak.

Highlight: Novak absolutely tore up UCLA back in November, scoring 22 points on eight shots from the field and chipping in three rebounds.

Lowlight: The final game in Novak's Wolverine career was sadly forgettable, as he could only muster a season-low two points on 1-5 shooting and didn't record a defensive rebound in Michigan's tourney loss to Ohio.

Next Year: Novak will take his grit to Europe. Godspeed, captain.

Evan Smotrycz

Preseason Expectations: Smotrycz was pinned as the X-factor for Michigan, a player who could put the team over the top as a sharp-shooting starter at power forward. After a solid but inconsistent showing as a freshman, he looked due for a breakout season.

Postseason Reality: It was a rollercoaster season for Smotrycz, who struggled early, caught fire at the end of nonconference play, then went into a prolonged slump that saw him lose his starting job for the rest of the season. The surprising post-season transfer fits that narrative all too well. The overall numbers are solid: Smotrycz averaged 7.7 points per game with a 58.9 eFG%, and he was also the team's most effective defensive rebounder, bringing in 21.4% of opponent misses when he was on the floor. However, Smotrycz never quite found his game again after losing his shooting stroke in Big Ten play, and his overall defense left much to be desired; he finished with a sky-high 5.8 fouls per 40 minutes as he played defense with his hands instead of his feet far too often. Smotrycz on average was an effective offensive weapon, but the inconsistency and defensive shortcomings proved too great to justify giving him starter's minutes.

Highlight: Prospects looked good when Smotrycz scored 20 points on eight shots (4-5 from three) and grabbed nine rebounds against Oakland. It's also worth noting that Smotrycz's 15 points on 6-7 shooting was really the only thing keeping Michigan close against Ohio in the last game of the season.

Lowlight: Smotrycz's final start was the debacle at Iowa, and he failed to score in 22 minutes of play while also committing two turnovers. That was the final straw, as Beilein inserted Stu Douglass into the starting lineup against State.

Key Numbers: 58.9 eFG%, 21.4 DR%, 5.8 FC/40

Next Year: Smotrycz won't be here, which really sucks. Best of luck to him.

Jon Horford

Preseason Expectations: Fight for the starting center job with Morgan, provide at least 15 quality minutes per game.

Postseason Reality: Horford's balky foot robbed Michigan of any depth at center and prematurely ended what was at times a promising sophomore campaign. He showed up much bigger than he was as a freshman, looking the part of a Big Ten center, and he was very active on the glass and as a shot-blocker. Horford doesn't have a polished offensive game, but he brings a lot of energy and is a more athletic option than Morgan, at least when it comes to quick-twitch explosiveness. Much is still unknown, however, as Horford only appeared in nine games.

Highlight: Horford hit all five of his shots from the field, grabbed seven rebounds, and blocked three shots against UCLA, by far the best performance of his young career.

Lowlight: The stress fracture that erased the season's last 25 games.

Next Year: Horford probably won't surpass Morgan at this point, but he should be a valuable backup who won't be much of a dropoff defensively or on the glass. I really like Horford's athleticism and potential, and we'll see how he develops once he gets through rehab and can go full-steam again.

Blake McLimans

Preseason Expectations: McLimans came to the team with the reputation of being the type of sharpshooting big man that Beilein loves, but he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn as a freshman. Expectations were rather low, with the hope being that he wouldn't really need to see the court behind a big man rotation of Morgan, Horford, and Smotrycz.

Postseason Reality: McLimans still isn't much of an inside presence, especially defensively, but he did manage to knock down a decent portion of his jumpers, going 5-12 from beyond the arc and 10-21 overall this season. McLimans only played more than eight minutes in a game once during conference play—the aforementioned Northwestern game—and only was used when both Morgan and Smotrycz got into early foul trouble.

Next Year: McLimans may see his role further decrease when Horford returns and Mitch McGary hits campus. He could see some time as a situational shooter, but he's going to need to really improve on defense if he wants to carve out a larger role.

Colton Christian

Preseason Expectations: Provide the occasional boost of energy off the bench.

Postseason Reality: Christian played a total of 51 minutes on the year, grabbing six rebounds and hitting a few very unexpected shots. Still didn't display much of an offensive game, and was mostly content to hit the class and save his energy for defense.

Next Year: He won't be here, having also put in his name for a transfer. It's highly unlikely he would have seen the floor.

Smotrycz, Brundidge, Christian All Exit

Smotrycz, Brundidge, Christian All Exit

Submitted by Brian on March 21st, 2012 at 3:19 PM

I had these tweets up from Sam Webb that hinted at some attrition from the basketball team but that's all irrelevant now:

University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Wednesday, March 21) that sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz (Reading, Mass./New Hampton Prep [N.H.]),sophomore forward Colton Christian (Bellevue, Wash./Hargrave Military Academy) and freshman guard Carlton Brundidge (Southfield, Mich./Southfield HS) each decided to leave the Wolverine basketball program and transfer to another school.

Smotrycz is the headliner here. He started the first half of the year before Michigan went to Stu Douglass in the starting lineup; playing out of position the rest of the year at the five he still saw 20 minutes a game and was Michigan's best three-point shooter over the course of the season. He was projected to start at the four next year. His loss is both inexplicable and harmful. Unless Smotrycz was flat out told that McGary and Robinson were going to eat his minutes I don't understand that departure.

Brundidge only saw a few minutes spotting Trey Burke; Christian was also an end of the bench type.

Michigan's scholarship crunch just got blown away: Michigan could bring in two additional guys in the 2012 class and still have room for their three guys in 2013 without any further attrition. They only have one active target, 6'5" Findlay Prep PG/SG Amedeo Della Valle. He's got a top five Michigan is a part of along with Texas A&M, Ohio State, Arizona, and Gonzaga. They could also get in on the Trey Ziegler transfer sweepstakes now.

Michigan Basketball Season Preview: The Team

Michigan Basketball Season Preview: The Team

Submitted by Tim on November 4th, 2010 at 11:18 AM

  

Part the Second of the basketball preview. Previously: Media Day

Not to be one of those schools that looks at its football team headed to a weak bowl or worse in November and says "Hey, basketball," but...

Hey, basketball.

Though the Europe trip accelerated the learning process for a young Michigan team, this is still a squad whose elder statesmen (and only players with experience at all) equal two juniors and a sophomore.

Darius Morris - So.

morris.JPG

Darius took on a big role for this Michigan team as a true freshman last year, splitting point guard duties with Stu Douglass. Morris, like many freshmen (aside from the one-and-done types), came into college with a lot to learn, and struggled through some growing pains last year. He showed flashes of brilliance, and if he can play with a calm demeanor (and maybe shoot a little better) a second-year leap is in order.

He had an 84/51assist/turnover ratio, and if that improves in his second season, the improvement from the floor is bonus. He finished shooting 52.34 eFG% last year. Like everyone else was dismal from behind the arc. Michigan's coaches have praised the improvement of his shot during the offseason, saying Darius put in the work to become more consistent. Beilein has said that he doesn't need to be a shooter, just a guy who can make defenses pay if they don't play him right.

Morris's stats on the Europe trip don't inspire confidence, unfortunately. He finished with an eFG of 29.41% and made only a third of his free throws. Without making excuses there are mitigating factors, such as the 24-second clock leaving Michigan's offense scrambling to get off a shot - that burden falls primarily on the point guard - and playing against teams that have been together for more than 10 practices, are a few years older, etc. That sample size is small.

Stu Douglass - Jr.

stu.JPG

Stu played much of last year at the point guard position, which he didn't play in high school. He had some success but the move probably contributed to his struggles shooting. He did find a surprising ability to defend a lot of very good players, particularly in the Big Ten.

He had a dismal 45.37 eFG% despite being Michigan's most effective 3-point shooter among regular contributors at 32.9%. That means he was just plain bad from inside the arc, partially a product of playing point guard for the first time (and being saddled with some last-second plays against the shot clock, like Morris was in Europe).

This season, Stu will again have to play some point guard in place of Darius Morris, but will hopefully spend more at his more natural 2-guard position. His shooting might improve accordingly, which could make him a very real threat from outside the arc. If his stats in Europe are any indication, his three-point shot may be on the upswing. He shot 40% from behind the arc, 46.67% after the first game.

Tim Hardaway Jr. - Fr.

Hardaway has been a pleasant surprise since he set foot on campus in July. The son of the former NBA guard doesn't have the same crossover dribble that made his father famous, but he's a good shooter who led the Wolverines in scoring on their trip to Europe at a 57.35 eFG%.

For the Wolverines to exceed (low) pre-season expectations, Hardaway will have to continue his strong performances to date, and keep up his scoring and all-around production. He was second on the squad in rebounding, fourth in assists, and amongst the PT leaders in Europe.

Zack Novak - Jr.

zack.JPG

The contributions of Zack Novak over the past two years have been admirable, as he's mostly played out of position at the 4, guarding guys who are at least half a foot taller than him. With a bit of frontcourt depth on the team, he may finally be able to play at a more natural position.

A position change for Novak means his production will be a bit of a question mark. Over the past couple of seasons, Beilein has attributed Novak's shooting troubles to getting worn out on the defensive end of the floor. With that no longer an issue, he could develop into a solid offensive player and secondary option.

We already know Zack's going to be tough on both ends of the floor, and he has underrated athleticism. He was already pulling down decent rebounding numbers while being boxed out by much bigger players.

Matt Vogrich - So.

Vogrich came into Michigan as a pure shooter, and Wolverine fans though something along the lines of "a 6-4 white guy who can shoot the hell out of the ball: a perfect John Beilein recruit!" But it was clear from the start that Vogrich didn't have a college-ready body, and he struggled enough defensively that he only averaged a couple minutes a game in 30 appearances.

A shooter he is though, as he nailed 39% of his 28 3-pointers a season ago, and ended up with a 53.57 eFG%. After a year of conditioning and practice time, he should be more physically able to handle playing both sides of the court at this level, and should be a major contributor this season.

In Europe, Matt started every game, averaging over 20 minutes a game. He made the most of that time, shooting 72 eFG%, and leading the team in... rebounds? If he continues to do that over the course of the season, it probably means Michigan is getting killed on the glass. If he's got a 72 eFG% Michigan's blazing from outside, though.

Colton Christian - Fr.

We don't know a whole lot about Christian outside of his recruiting profile because he was limited in pre-Europe practice by an injured hamstring that kept him out of all the games across the pond. He's a primarily defensive player with good athleticism and an improving offensive game. He will split time with Smotrycz at the four, with only occasional appearances at that spot from Novak.

Evan Smotrycz - Fr.

Michigan got in on Smotrycz (mnenomic: Shoot More On The Run You Cocaine Zombie) before the recruiting services though of him as a hot commodity, but they came around by Signing Day, He eventually landed at four stars, and Rivals' #59 player nationally. In Europe, he was the team's fifth-leading scorer on an eFG of 40.38%. He's a big player, and has the athleticism to be a scorer, but from what I saw in summer practices he's still got some learning to do to become a true post threat, especially in a physical league like the Big Ten (unlike in football, the distinction is accurate in basketball).

Blake McLimans - Fr.

mclimans.JPG

As pointed out by Dylan at UMHoops, McLimans is one of the oldest freshmen in the nation, with a year of prep school and a redshirt under his belt. He should be ready to contribute physically (though he had trouble with sprint drills in summer practices), and the question is whether his lack of on-court experience will hinder him.

Among the centers, he's the best shooter, which should give him a leg up on a John Beilein team. He got the most playing time in Europe, getting all four starts. He's also the most experienced, which is scary because at right is the closest thing I have to an action shot of him.

Jordan Morgan - Fr.

A decent recruit coming out of high school, Jordan Morgan's career-to-date has been sidetracked by one injury after another (he redshirted as a true freshman last year). He told me at media day that he's finally healthy, and ready to contribute. He's the most traditional post player of Michigan's centers, and likely the best rebounder.

In Europe, Jordan shot the ball very well (I assume mostly easy finishes under the basket), but didn't attempt a single three-pointer.

Jon Horford - Fr.

Horford was a project coming out of high school, albeit one with decent skill and bloodlines (you may have heard of his father Tito or brother Al). He is need of some physical development and skill work before being ready to play. Michigan probably won't have the luxury of redshirting him, and the coaching staff has talked up his willingness to put in the work in order to improve, so he should be able to get some minutes. They'll probably be the least of the three.

The Walk-ons

I don't intend to insult Josh Bartelstein, Corey Person, and Eso Akunne by including them in their own separate, branded category, but if the Wolverines are forced to rely on these guys as much more than practice players this season, it means something has gone David Cone wrong.

They'll all get a few minutes here and there to rest the rotation players, and may even have a few moments in the spotlight, but their primary duty will be preparing the other guys in practice. Combined, they averaged less than two minutes on the court per games last season.

Unverified Voracity Has The Legal Limit Of Purple Top Hat

Unverified Voracity Has The Legal Limit Of Purple Top Hat

Submitted by Brian on May 12th, 2010 at 1:54 PM

Marvin in. There were some rumblings that incoming S recruit Marvin Robinson might have some academic issues after his plan to enroll early didn't come off. As seen on the board, these appear to have been false. Robinson just told Rivals he will be on campus June 1st($), whereupon he will try to take Jordan Kovacs's spot at bandit.

The More You Know, As Presented By Lil Wayne.

t-pain-lil-wayne-2

repeat after us: that's not my weed no matter how much my hat implies it is.

Notre Dame tight end Mike Ragone is the earthly avatar of New Jersey. Also he is a backup Notre Dame tight end, so he will get in minor trouble with recreational substances and get hellaciously disproportionate justice in return. The minor trouble with recreational substances:

The trooper making the stop smelled marijuana, searched the car and found two baggies of a leafy substance in the purse of Ragone’s girlfriend. A field test indicated it was marijuana.

According to probable cause affidavits filed by Trooper Tony LoMonaco, Ragone gave the baggies to his girlfriend to hide in her purse as they were being pulled over. LoMonaco said Ragone waived his right to remain silent and said the marijuana belonged to him.

Someone is not familiar with the concept of a weed carrier.

If precedent holds, Ragone is likely to be suspended for a year because the institution of Notre Dame has just finished watching Reefer Madness for the third time this week, finding nothing even mildly humorous therein. This would make him the third second-string Notre Dame tight end to feel ND's boot on his neck for typical student hijinks: Will Yeatman got booted in 2008 for moped DUI (seriously: moped DUI) and Joseph Fauria transferred to UCLA after he got suspended for something undisclosed; he dropped some bombs on the way out.

Q: Why is it always the backup tight end? Why can't it be the quarterback?

Colton, Cullen. Cullen, Colton. Rothstein has some more on Colton Christian, Michigan's newest basketball commitment. His role, as envisioned by Beilein, is Petway with a decent jumper:

Christian said Beilein told him his role as a freshman could be to guard an opponent’s forwards, rebound, box out and offensively play around the high post.

His high school coach (Bellvue, not Hargrave) provides some additional information that suggests things by omitting them:

“Really athletic,” O’Connor said. “6-foot-6, long. Fills the lanes really well, rebounds really well, can defend people on the interior and out on the perimeter. He can defend inside and out.”

Mention of offensive skills: nonexistent. Even so, if Christian can be a 6-6 all-purpose defensive stopper and rebounder that's something unique on the team. His addition seems worthwhile as long as it doesn't impact Michigan's ability to take two more players in the 2011 class (which already features Carlton Brundidge). This would require a transfer or Laval Lucas-Perry not getting a fifth year.

Define "fair." The welcome news that the NCAA hockey committee is seriously considering dumping the failed regionals format for home series was covered on Friday. It's a move that makes sense on multiple levels. One of them is that going to less random format than one-and-done hockey properly rewards teams that have suggested they are amongst the best in the country. This is an asset in a sport that's so much of a random number generator that this year's NHL playoffs saw exactly one team of each seed advance to the second round.

So this is a supremely annoying argument:

Going to a 16-team four-regional format in 2003 was a signature moment for the sport. It eliminated byes, and at the same time, portended the move away from on-campus regionals as much as possible, eliminating a sore spot and unfair advantage. …

In Brad Schlossman's Grand Forks Herald report, he noted that from 1988-91, top seeds — which had a bye AND a best-of-3 quarterfinal home series — reached the Frozen Four 87.5 percent of the time. After the NCAA went away from best-of-3 series, starting in 1992, until the tournament expanded to 16 teams, the No. 1 seeds — which had a first-round bye only — reached the Frozen Four 65.9 percent of the time. Since then, needing to play two games, like everyone else, and not getting to play them at home as often, it's only 46.9 percent of the time.

But why is that bad? The whole point was to remove the unfair advantage of the top seed. This is what so many people clamored for. This would seem like a step backwards.

Argh. It is only an "unfair advantage" if the top seeds had not, you know, earned them by virtue of their play. You might as well say it's unfair that Michigan gets all those recruits. Honestly, if a four seed has no chance of winning a best two-of-three series on the road against a good team it shouldn't be in the tournament at all. In the NHL, the road team wins 45% of the time. If you want to make it fairer, the "road" team can get last change and the various other small advantages given the home team in game two.

Hockey's just too random to make any determination about a team's strength relative to another in sixty minutes. Over the course of a whole season, however, teams certainly distance themselves from others. The current tournament format tries as hard as it can to discard all that information about who is the best team in favor of weighted plinko, which yields tournaments so chaotic that they render regular season results virtually meaningless. This is "fair" according to the above argument.

Moving to home best-of-three regionals is more profitable, more exciting, provides fans a better experience, creates a tournament that is less likely to be the functional equivalent of a blender, and makes the regular season more meaningful. Protests that the Pairwise system is not precise enough to distinguish between 8 and 9 (or 7 and 10 and maybe even 6 and 11) are accurate, which is why the committee should move to a PWR system that is less stupid. If changing the tournament forces the powers that be to consider the many ways in which the Pairwise is flawed, it's a double win.

Define "rules." Literally. Also in the realm of college hockey changes, the committee is meeting for their bi-annual review. There is the usual fretting about player safety that will result in some vague redefinition of things that are already penalties. Other than that, though, there are some meaningful changes being discussed:

  • Going to half-shields instead of full cages.
  • Reducing ties by modifying the overtime session without resorting to the shootout: "There seemed to be more interest in reducing the number of tie games. In other words, not finishing the game with a shootout, but maybe tweaking the overtime rules that we have in place so more games end in overtime.” The proposals on the table are a mishmash of lengthening overtime to ten minutes and playing OT 4-on-4.

    I think that's the right track. Shootouts are random and they're only acceptable in the CCHA because they don't count for the pairwise.

  • The CCHA is the only league against the two-ref, two-linesman system, so at least they know they're icing some confused mofos.
  • They're considering tweaking icing with weird  rules about imaginary lines (to reduce whistles) or eliminating the wave-off if an attacking player misses a pass (to increase whistles) or removing the ability of a shorthanded team to ice it on a power play. The first two are dumb, but the latter is interesting to me: I bet they added the icing exception way back in the day because tired teams on the penalty kill were just going to ice it anyway and it was a way to not have ten of them in a two-minute span. Now that they've removed the ability to change after an icing, teams on the PK would have to legitimately attempt to clear the zone.
  • It seems like they're going to get the d-zone dump over the boards right: "It looked like from the survey results that over half of the people would like to see something, but not a penalty. They’d like to make it so that they can’t change their players." This is right on. Make it icing, basically. Remove the incentive to do it without implementing the Dumbest Penalty In Sports.
  • ARGH ARGH ARGH: "Requiring a team that has a delayed penalty in effect to clear the puck out of its defensive zone to get the whistle instead of merely gaining possession. That’s another topic that didn’t garner much in the way of support." Guessing one Red Berenson brought this up—it's something I suggested after the Miami debacle. There is no reason not to implement this immediately.
  • They're also considering making all goals off skates legit, which they should do. Skate on ice: legit goal.

It sounds like at least a few of these will get implemented, and I like virtually all of them. (There is a goofy proposal to ban people from diving on the ice to block a shot, but there's no way that gets passed.)

Hello: Colton Christian

Hello: Colton Christian

Submitted by Brian on May 11th, 2010 at 1:12 PM

colton-christian colton-christian1

We won't replicate Dylan's googlestalk of Colton Christian, Michigan's latest basketball recruit, but a guy did just sign with Michigan's basketball program. This is news. The high-level view: Christian is a 6'7" SF/PF who decommitted from Tulane after their coach was fired, visited and was offered by Penn State (meh) and Cal (hey maybe), and committed to Michigan after an official visit this weekend. He's a two star or unranked to Scout and Rivals and an 85—whatever that means—to ESPN.

So… yeah. Scouting reports make him sound like a less extreme version of Brent Petway:

Christian was super involved in most of his team’s plays, showing an extremely high motor on both ends of the floor. At 6′7, Christian is an undersized 4 who unfortunately doesn’t appear to have much length or strength to compensate. That said, he’s a solid athlete with a good second bounce around the basket, and he constantly puts all his physical tools to work with his relentless style of play.

Christian does the majority of his damage on the defensive end, attacking the glass, hustling back in transition, attacking passing lanes, and playing strong, fundamentally sound post defense.

IE, he can't actually jump over the backboard but has dribbled a basketball at least once in his life. That scouting report goes on to criticize Christian's limited offensive game; ESPN's evaluation, on the other hand, praises a "capable scorer on the block" with "range out to 18 feet." Dave Telep notes the last relative who-dat Beilein signed out of Hargrave was Joe Alexander, so there's that.

Christian's quite a comedown from Trey Zeigler or Casey Prather and Michigan has now put all their eggs in the Beilein Sleeper Evaluation basket, but at least he's another chunk of size added to the roster and a guy who can contribute in multiple ways even if his offensive game is relatively limited, which it might not be. Christian's coach at Hargrave says he's got an impressive skill package that no one got to see($) because they started three guards. Offhand comparison: former Iowa and future USC SF/PF Aaron Fuller? Beilein was after Fuller for a while.

This likely ends Michigan's pursuit of Isaiah Sykes—a kid who transferred to four different high schools has sketchy handlers, who knew—and probably finishes the class of 2010 unless Beilein stumbles across a 6'10" German who could go in the first round of the NBA draft in a few years. /dramatic sigh.

Dylan has video and further details at UMHoops.

BONUS BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Before a post-grad year at Hargrave, you can see above that Christian was a Bellevue Wolverine. That's Steve Schilling's alma mater.

Ha Fooled You Here's Tim's Post On Christian

Definitely not a miscommunication at this here blog. Definitely an elaborate and incredibly early April Fool's joke that will go down as the greatest of all time.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN
2*, NR PF 3*, NR PF (2009) 85

This kid is under-the-radar enough that Rivals has his name wrong ("Christian Colton" they say, but his profile from pre-postgrad is a little more updated), though he was previously committed to Tulane. ESPN scouted him last November:

Christian plays a very efficient, and college ready, brand of basketball. He isn’t going to dominate the game with his scoring but has some inside-out skills and impacts the game in a variety of ways. He’s a capable scorer on the block with a little jump hook and can also step out to 18 feet and shoot. He’s strong and very athletic off of two feet, bodies up well defending the post, and rebounds out of his area.

From his original Tulane commitment article on Scout, Hargrave coach Kevin Keatts give a bit of praise:

“What makes him really good is that his motor runs all the time. He plays above the rim and he competes. I’ve had a few guys like him and they’ve always been successful.”

Draft Express seems somewhat down on his potential (HT UMHoops):

At 6′7, Christian is an undersized 4 who unfortunately doesn’t appear to have much length or strength to compensate. That said, he’s a solid athlete with a good second bounce around the basket, and he constantly puts all his physical tools to work with his relentless style of play...

Offensively, he appears a bit limited, not showing much prowess on his perimeter shot, and relying mostly on a turnaround jumper in the post, which he has limited success with. He is good on the offensive glass and finishing around the basket on cuts, but he clearly has a ways to go here.

Keatts also says he's clueless as to why Christian hadn't gotten more interest at the time. He squared off against Darius Morris in high school:

2010 Bellevue prospect Aaron Bright scored 18 points as did Michigan signee Darius Morris of Windward. The key to the win for Bellevue was the support Bright got from forward Colton Christian, who scored a game high 20 points. Strong and athletic, Christian played like a low to mid-major prospect in this game.

"Low to mid-major" isn't the most encouraging sign in the world, but he picked up a little more BCS-conference attention later in the process as we'll see from the...

OFFERS

Christian had been committed to Tulane, so obviously he held an offer from the Green Wave. Rivals lists his only other offer as coming from Appalachian State. Scout's listing is a little less panic-inducing, saying he held offers from the likes of Penn State and Cal.

This kid wasn't exactly being courted by the powerhouse teams of NCAA basketball, and it's not because of lack of exposure: Hargrave Academy routinely puts out D-1 talent. With Beilein's track record, I don't think that's too worrisome.

STATS

In his postgrad year at Hargrave Military Academy, UMHoops reports that Christian averaged 14 points and 14 rebounds per game. That's fairly impressive, considering he was playing alongside a number of 3- and 4-star recruits.

VIDEO

Zip ahead to #4, at 1:28 in.

There are also a couple game highlight videos out there, including when he played against Darius Morris.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Michigan is in need of size, and Christian provides it away from the center position. He'll probably be ready to play right away, though his upside and athleticism are more enticing than his ability as a true freshman.

He'll get some court time this year, probably in the 7-minute range on average, but as he is able to get into the weight room and practice gym to work on his body and his offensive game, he can become a significant contributor as an upperclassman.