Talking About The Basketballs

Talking About The Basketballs Comment Count

Brian November 11th, 2014 at 1:18 PM

11/10/2014 – Michigan 86, Wayne State 43 – 0-0

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[Bryan Fuller]

Hey: basketball. I took in the exhibition, which exhibited various things I'll now detail.

Player things

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[Fuller]

I hope this was just nerves. Freshmen had a rough shooting night with the limited exceptions of Doyle and Dawkins, none more so than Chatman. He airballed his first two threes, took a bad, contested long two, and bricked a THJ-style pull-up long two; he did hit a three late.

On the good side, his other bucket was an impressive drive to the basket with a finish that made a lot of people look at their buddy so they could do this:

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He also added four assists and led the team in rebounding with six; he also looked capable of switching on the perimeter at least as effectively as GRIII.

Shooting was never a strength for Robinson—he developed an elbow jumper he was proficient at but hovered around 30% from three—so even if Chatman isn't a great threat from deep Michigan won't be backsliding too much. And Beilein believes he can coach up anyone's three point stroke.

DJ Wilson. Wilson's going to be an interesting case this year. He's skinny as all git out but with his size and hops he's going to be much better at altering shots than anyone on last year's team other than Horford. Michigan has been playing him mostly at the 5 with occasional forays at the 4, and while Doyle's lingering ankle thing has something to do with that you get the feeling that when opponents have a lanky dude in there Michigan is going to counter with Wilson.

I could have sworn Wilson hit two late threes but the box score only gives him credit for one. Foot on the line? Either way he mitigated some of the freshman shooting questions by hitting those late.

Aubrey Dawkins. Skinnier version of GRIII. Can shoot some, 6'6", athletic, not going to create much. Had some issues dribbling.

MAAR. Or "Rahk." Rahk appears to be Beilein's favorite way of saying Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman without taking up nine syllables, and it has its appeal.

Anyway, MAAR has a much better handle than the rest of the freshman and is your third point guard. He had a nice take to the hoop that he followed with a layup that was way too hard; he had a second drive on which he'd gotten an angle to the bucket when his handle betrayed him and the ball looped out of bounds.

He ended up not hitting a shot; early yet.

Center fight. There are four options: Mark Donnal, Ricky Doyle, DJ Wilson, and Max Bielfeldt. I expect Doyle to emerge into a clear starter, with Donnal giving him a breather. The lack of pick and pop game with Donnal on the court says somethin' about somethin'.

Doyle is both one inch taller and somehow way bigger than Donnal. He seems to have considerably more defensive upside. He's also finished much better around the basket in the two glimpses we've seen of him this fall. Donnal has been a below the rim Morgan type without Morgan's crazy efficiency; Doyle is finishing with both hands easily because he's got those super-huge hands and long arms that allow him to gently deposit the ball on the glass from whatever angle is called for.

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This person looks like a person who will finish around the rim. [Fuller]

Wilson will rotate in at the 4 and the 5 depending on matchups and how Chatman's seemingly mercurial shooting stroke is going.

The returning folks. All looked pretty good minus some uncharacteristic three-point foibles (Irvin, Walton, Albrecht, and LeVert combined to go 3 for 12) that we can ignore because we have full-season samples for all those guys in which they hit 40% from deep.

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I got this [Fuller]

LeVert looked ready to take on the alpha dog mantle passed down from Burke to Stauskas and now to him. He's taking the late clock shots; his length and ability to get to good spots on the floor mean these are usually okay shots.

Irvin was much more active on the boards, hauling in five rebounds in 29 minutes, and even had shots from within the arc(!). On the podcast we discussed how Irvin needs to be a "three AND" guy this year, whether that's perimeter defense or rebounding or sometimes venturing inside the line. So far so good.

Walton was hampered by a scary-looking injury that turned out to be a cramp; he was very assured on the ball and got to the line seven times—would have been eight if not for the injury.

The rotation. Until such time as one of the freshmen gains enough trust to be put out there in pressure situations, expect the main backcourt sub to be Spike. Beilein's always kept a short bench and Albrecht's utterly reliable with the ball in his hands. This is Beilein's favorite thing. He'll spot Walton for eight minutes a game and then Michigan will have ten or so minutes with both points on the floor, leaving 5-10 minutes for MAAR and Dawkins to scrap over.

A lack of flow. You know it's early and you've got a bunch of freshmen when your guards have to keep yelling at the posts to screen for them. Michigan used its time on offense inefficiently, with several incidents where plays had to be reset because of poor spacing and miscommunication.

In particular, there was one play featuring DJ Wilson where Wilson had two obvious opportunities to drift to the three point line in the corner and either force someone out of the middle or get a good shot. Instead he hung out 15 feet from the basket and neither option opened up. He was far from the only culprit, but that stood out as a moment where I may have been more familiar with Beilein's system than freshman X—I blinked a couple times because I couldn't understand what Wilson was doing.

Beilein seems pretty frustrated right now:

"We don’t have a very good package in, and I’m trying to figure out how that’s happened,” Beilein said. “We held things back today so it’s not on film, but it’s not very far right now. We’re creeping along. We’re moving in the right direction, but it’s really slow.”

He added, “It’s my biggest quandary every day, is whether we can move forward faster. We spend so much time on defense, because we realize that shots aren’t (always) going to drop. It’s hard to believe that we went to Europe and we aren’t further along and we’re not moving as quickly as I would have in past years.”

This team isn't appreciably younger than either of his previous two, which were amongst the youngest in the country. Hopefully they get it figured out before the preseason tourney rolls around.

How to stay good

Michigan endured yet another talent exodus this offseason and has to regress from last year's all-time Kenpom offensive efficiency record. To maintain their elite level they're going to have to make it up in other places. Here are a few candidates.

Rebound some low-hanging fruit. Michigan's rebounding production out of the 3 and 4 spots last year was not impressive. 6'6" PF Glenn Robinson had a 6% OREB rate and an 11.5 DREB rate; 6'6" SF Zak Irvin had a 3.3% OREB rate and a 7.7 DREB rate. Irvin was in fact the least likely guy on the team to get a defensive rebound—even Spike Albrecht beat him out.

A selection of 6'7"-ish forwards in the Big Ten last year:

  • Troy Williams, IU: 8 OREB and 15 DREB
  • LaQuinton Ross, OSU: 7.5 and 17
  • Terran Petteway, NEB: 3 and 15
  • Shavon Shields, NEB: 5 and 16
  • Jon Ekey, ILL: 8 and 15
  • Aaron White, Iowa: 7 and 19
  • Melsahn Basabe, Iowa: 12 and 23
  • Branden Dawson, MSU: 13 and 21
  • Denzel Valentine, MSU: 5 and 18

(Should be noted that the Nebraska guys' OREB rates are a reflection of a team-wide allergy.) It isn't too hard to find guys with much better production. While Dawson and White are rebounding specialists who find a lot of their value as players in what happens when a shot caroms off the rim, no one is going to mistake Williams, Petteway, Valentine, or Ross for D-oriented role players.

Michigan can seriously beef up production here, and so far so good. Chatman led the team with six rebounds; Irvin had five.

Block some dang shots. Michigan had vanishingly little shotblocking on the team last year. Michigan was 308th nationally, and this contributed to their very bad two-point D.

The freshmen promise to change that. Wilson is long and bouncy and once Doyle settles in it's easy to see him getting his share of swats. His arms are oversized. Michigan had six blocks in this game, albeit against a highly undersized opponent. If Doyle and Wilson can block some shots, alter others, and convince drivers to pull up because of the first two items, that goes some distance towards repairing last year's conference-worst two point D.

Get some steals. Steals are great. Open-court turnovers lead to transition opportunities on which Michigan is deadly. Michigan had eight, with the sneaky Spike Albrecht picking up three.

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[Fuller]

Stay in front. We all love Nik Stauskas but his defense was never a strong suit; meanwhile Robinson was not awesome laterally and gave up some inches to most of the guys he was checking. Replacing Stauskas with Irvin could be a major upgrade—too early to tell yet—and having athletes like Chatman and Wilson who are close to GRIII's level while also being significantly longer should help the D recover from its swoon into the triple digits on Kenpom.

Hooray basketball. Hooray not being scoreless 30 minutes into the game.

Comments

Unverified Voracity Bounces

Unverified Voracity Bounces Comment Count

Brian November 6th, 2014 at 12:40 PM

A note. UFR tomorrow. Life things.

Open practice. Basketball had one, and it was fun. The most interesting segment was an "overtime" period in which a mostly first-team unit took on a mostly second-team unit, which one of our users got on the tubes:

Impressions on the new blood:

  • DJ Wilson has the potential to greatly improve Michigan's defense. Maybe not this year, especially since they're running him out at the five some, but down the road. He's tall, has long arms, is bouncy, and has the lateral agility to check anyone approximately his size. He was about the only defender who was at all effective in a transition drill where the guy on D faces a 2 on 1. He's going to block a bunch of shots. Wilson played a significant amount of five with the next guy limited.
  • Ricky Doyle was participating, but only in short bursts, skipping all the running (he did pushups instead) and mostly watching. He seems limited by some sort of injury. Michigan's going to need him by the time they go to Brooklyn—he's much bigger than Donnal and Donnal struggled to finish at the rim to the point where he was sent on a run up the steps. We might retroactively appreciate Jordan Morgan's finishing this year.
  • MAAR is probably your third point guard if Michigan needs to dig that deep because of foul trouble or injury. He was able to penetrate to the lane several times, but like LeVert as a freshman he usually didn't have a great idea what to do after that happened.
  • Aubrey Dawkins is inexplicable. The guy is 6'6" and can jump out of the gym. The fact he had to prep and then only had a Dayton offer before Michigan swooped in is hard to believe; a guy with his athletic package should have mid-majors and lesser power conference schools leaping to offer him even if he's never seen a basketball in his life. He's going to be a lot like GRIII, I think.
  • Kam Chatman is smooth and skilled. Hard to get any serious impression of shooting ability in this brief window but he looked highly capable there—and that was supposedly his weak spot. Beilein will get you to shoot.

I forgot Duncan Robinson existed so I assumed the guy wearing 22 was a walk-on and didn't pay much attention to him; Hatch participated in some drills early but that was all.

One issue: the audio was severely distorted and made it impossible to hear anything. Hopefully they fix that if/when they do this next year.

Other open practice takes. Kyle Bogenschutz:

Most impressive? Michigan sophomore wing Zak Irvin. Irvin was just doing what Irvin does, knocking down threes from all over the perimeter and at an extremely high percentage. Of the opportunities Irvin had in live settings he didn’t miss many. Early of course and just practice but if Irvin is given some more looks like he had last year he will have a chance to lead the team in scoring despite LeVert being the most complete player on the team.

He also references Wilson's defensive upside.

Brendan Quinn:

Offensively, Chatman looks game-ready. The 6-foot-7 freshman is confident with the ball not shy about getting his shot off. Known as a smooth and methodical player, he had a little more bounce than anticipated. The questions for Chatman remain on the defensive end of the floor. Those will be answered with time.

A defense. What kind of argument to you have to make to get me to defend Dave Brandon? This kind:

Applying ESPN Grade To Michigan's Situation: Last Friday, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon resigned under pressure from boosters and alums unhappy with the football team's decline from the Top 25 and with stadium renovations intended to provide luxury to the 1 percent. Added to the bill of attainder should be that Michigan looks bad on graduation rates. The football graduation rate under Brandon averaged 69 percent, which would be acceptable at some lesser schools but is embarrassing at an elite institution like the University of Michigan.

He later cites Northwestern's 97% grad rate so I know what numbers he is using: the NCAA's graduation success rate metric. The NCAA's GSR site has numbers up to the 2007 cohort, who gradated in May of 2011 if they took four years. That's barely a year after Brandon's arrival and is in no way representative of anything he did academically. Michigan's APR has hit Northwestern levels the last few years as they dig out from the Carr/Rodriguez botched transition, and the GSR will follow… in like five years.

Congrats, Gregg Easterbrook. You have found a bad way to argue for Dave Brandon's dismissal. They said it couldn't be done, but you did it.

Coming up empty. The Daily has an article on Michigan's document retention policy, or lack thereof:

Despite the fact that Michigan state law requires public bodies to “protect public records from loss, unauthorized alteration, mutilation, or destruction,” according to University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, there is no University policy currently in place to ensure that employees retain communications in accordance with state-level regulations.

State law stipulates that public records be kept and disposed of in accordance with a formal schedule, which requires that correspondence be retained for two years after the date of its creation before it can be destroyed.

University officials, however, claim that on-campus regulations are separate and exempt from state law.

“It’s our policy that it’s up to individual users to determine their own document retention,” Fitzgerald said. “The University doesn’t have a set schedule.”

Daily FOIAs for Brandon emails between March 13th and 14th of this year and between July 24th and 26th of 2014 came up with "no responsive records"; the Daily was looking for correspondence on the Gibbons matter. I can add that I filed an FOIA for the specific date of the Have A Happy Life email and, like one of our users, it came back non-responsive as well.

Hilariously, the University is arguing that it is "not a formal part of state government" to justify this behavior… after repeatedly arguing in court that they are. In yet further evidence that the Michigan FOIA department is out of step with standard practice:

When the Daily submitted requests for e-mail archives of various other Big Ten athletic directors in mid-2014, representatives from MSU, the University of Iowa, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Nebraska, Purdue University and the University of Illinois responded with offers to provide the records. The University of Minnesota, Indiana University, Pennsylvania State University and Ohio State University did not respond immediately.

A lack of transparency is always in service to the people entrenched at the top of the institution and not the institution itself.

Boo, John Clayton, boo. Clayton on Olbermann:

In brief: Clayton asserts that Harbaugh's going to be somewhere else next year but it is likely to be an NFL team, not Michigan.

Etc.: The Big Ten is bad at hockey. Except for Minnesota. Hockey commit Kyle Connor is kind of a big deal, and explicit that he is going to honor his commitment. Derrick Walton is set to make a leap. Tom Crean wrecked his program. Smart Football has a glossary.

Comments

Hoops Media Day 14-15: The Players

Hoops Media Day 14-15: The Players Comment Count

Ace October 31st, 2014 at 2:14 PM


[Ace Anbender/MGoBlog]

The Michigan basketball team held their media day yesterday at the Crisler Center, and the theme of the afternoon was a familiar one: the team's youth. The players discussed leadership, the progress of the six freshmen, and much more; here's what I managed to get on the recorder yesterday.

Soph. Guard Derrick Walton

On his shooting getting better last year: “I understood that there were guys like Nik and Caris, the guys that waited their turn, it was their time to do the things that they’d sat and watched other guys do. I was very comfortable letting those guys make the plays and just contribute to the team any way I could, and that was one of the ways.”

On what prompted him starting: “Just starting to feel more comfortable, getting back and doing the things I was used to doing. Like I said, I was just happy contributing any way I could last year.”

On being comfortable becoming assertive this year: “Of course I have. We talk about it almost every day, just how it important it is for me to be aggressive this year. I want to be successful, so I take it upon myself, and my teammates encourage me every day, so I think I’m doing a good job with it.”

On being the point guard: “I try to find my balance and know that there are other guys who are very capable of making plays. It all depends on the situation. It’s hard to predetermine what may happen, so I just try to play it as is.”

On getting the ball into the post: “To be honest with you, this is the exact same thing we did last year. It just so happens this year we’re getting the ball into the post more. That’s the way it’s been thus far. I honestly don’t see a big difference between what we did last year and what we’re doing this year, there’s just guys getting more looks in the post.”

On his comfort level in the system this year: “Yeah, just knowing all the ins and outs of the offense, knowing how and when to pick my spots, just having a year under your belt in the system, it’s a big leap, that’s all I can say, from freshman to sophomore year, there’s a lot of stuff now that I didn’t even recognize last year.” (2:56.8)

On playing more with the ball in his hands this season: “That’s kinda been my M.O. my entire life. Just sitting back and having to watch another guy do it wasn’t a big deal. I’m just capitalizing on the opportunity I have right now.”

On this year being a return to normalcy for him: “It was different in some ways, but like I said, I was focused on winning and helping the team in any way. That was the role I was given, so I just tried to excel in it as much as possible.”

[Hit THE JUMP for quotes from Caris LeVert, Ricky Doyle, DJ Wilson, and Andrew Dakich.]

Comments

Hoops Preview 2014-15: Wings, Part 2

Hoops Preview 2014-15: Wings, Part 2 Comment Count

Ace October 21st, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Previously: Gardening Lessons (The Story), Preview Podcast, Point Guards, Wings Part 1


Kameron Chatman (L) and DJ Wilson (R/HAIR) will split minutes at the four

Thus far, this preview has covered the knowns for this season's iteration of Michigan basketball. The point guard position is rock-solid with Derrick Walton in line for a breakout sophomore season and Spike Albrecht's steadying presence on the bench. Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin provide plenty of scoring punch (and much more, in LeVert's case) at the two and three, and both have the potential to take big leaps forward in 2014-15.

Now we hit the unknowns. For the purposes of this preview, the power forward position is considered a wing, just like it functions in John Beilein's offense—the small forward and power forward essentially mirror each other—and Michigan must replace a productive starter there with the departure of Glenn Robinson III.

We know this much: a true freshman will crack the starting lineup, almost certainly top-30 prospect Kameron Chatman, and the backups at both the three and the four will also be comprised of fresh-faced new arrivals. As Beilein noted at Big Ten Media Day, the team doesn't have any other choice:

“Guess what? There’s going to be young players out there all over the place,” he said. “We’re just going to have to throw them in there. … We can’t look to our bench and say, ‘Let’s get a more veteran player in there.’ There aren’t any. They’re just going to have to get in there.”

The good news for Michigan is they reeled in two highly touted freshmen, led by Chatman, and picked up two sleepers late in the cycle who could contribute as soon as this season, with each of them bringing something different to the table. After the jump, a much closer look at the four freshmen on the wing.

[Hit THE JUMP for detailed breakdowns of each player.]

Comments

Well: What Now?

Well: What Now? Comment Count

Brian April 25th, 2014 at 12:54 PM

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ludicrous photo illustration of Donnal via the Blade.

I'm trying as hard as I can to not go on a rage bender, so let's just move on to the implications for next year's basketball team. They are not good, obviously, but it is also not the end of the world. John Beilein won a Big Ten title with a 6'4" starting power forward; Michigan will live.

Post Situation

Jon Horford's ever-more inexplicable decision to exit as buckets of playing time beckon leaves Michigan with the following options for tall rebounding folks:

  • Mark Donnal. Freshman coming off a redshirt; reputed to be highly skilled perimeter big who certainly could play the 4 in a Beilein offense but now slides down to the five. Has a back-to-the-basket game, not that such things are at all relevant in Ann Arbor. Can be a Pittsnogle pick and pop guy; defense questionable. Supposed to be a below the rim type, though Camp Sanderson has endeavored to change that.
  • Ricky Doyle. Gangly three-star freshman out of Florida now standing next to Bacari Alexander in an effort to demonstrate that he's a legit 6'10", Doyle has a decent face up game and is reputed to be your standard hard-working blue-collar rebounder. Freshman bigs, though, are not fifth year senior bigs.
  • Max Bielfeldt. If only Bielfeldt's body was as large as his calves. Since they're not, the 6'6"-ish Bielfeldt just gets swallowed by actual posts. The first half of the Big Ten Championship game is the most recent example. Will have a role off the bench against certain matchups.
  • Random fifth year guy. Nobody on the radar and Michigan's contingency plan in the event of a McGary exit appears to be Cole Huff, who won't be eligible next year if he does end up transferring in and wouldn't be a post even if he got a waiver.
  • Random freshman. See previous bullet: Michigan's late offers have been focused on the wing. If Dawkins or Huff does turn Michigan down they would have a spot to go fishing with. Finding someone this late who is both a fit and able to play basketball is doubtful.

So Michigan's going to have to roll with what they've got, it seems: a 6'9" redshirt freshman and a 6'10" freshman plus Max Bielfeldt.

What about the four?

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Irvin is not an ideal option at the 4. [Fuller]

Any thought Donnal would spend significant minutes at the 4 is out the window. Michigan's options there:

  • Zak Irvin. Irvin saw the occasional stretch at the four a year ago, always when Robinson was on the bench. It seems doubtful Irvin can provide anything more than a few minutes here and there against a decent matchup, as he's far more wing-shaped than Robinson. His DREB rate was the lowest on the team, yes behind even Spike. That's partially roles and whatnot; I think it's also Zak Irvin not being much of a rebounder. Even a Hardaway-like move there does not make him the best option, which means Michigan's in a different place than they were a few years ago. Also, Irvin is going to be needed at the 3 for about 30 minutes a game.
  • Kam Chatman. Chatman measured in at 6'8" at the most recent camo basketball all star debacle, so he'd actually be an improvement over Robinson in the height department despite being widely regarded as a wing player. At around 200 pounds that's understandable. Chatman would probably get beat up worse than Robinson did as a freshman, as he's taller and skinnier—going to be a lot of times he gets shoved under the basket when rebound time kicks in.
  • DJ Wilson. Chatman's fellow freshman is the truest stretch four Beilein's brought in during his time at Michigan. Depending on who you listen to and what time they scribbled his weight down, Wilson's either the same 200 pounds Chatman is or a skinny-but-survivable 215 at 6'8" or 6'9". Wilson finally had a healthy high school season and used that to shoot up almost fifty spots in the Rivals rankings.
  • Guy who looks suspiciously like Zack Novak wearing a fake beard and stovepipe hat. It could happen.

That seems super young

Yep. For the third straight year, Michigan projects to be one of the youngest teams in the country, with a frontcourt that is handing probably 70 of its 80 minutes to freshmen, has no seniors, and will have only one starter who's even a junior. That junior is almost as young as you can be and still be a junior. Kentucky might be older. For real.

This is not necessarily doom. The last two years Michigan has been 342nd and 330th in Kenpom's experience stat*. This did not matter much: no team in the country collected more NCAA tournament wins than Michigan whilst they were idling at the bottom of the table there.

It is something different to have freshman bigs who are not Mitch McGary, though. Bigs are long-term projects best eased into serious time lest they be overrun. Michigan can and will survive—I see Jane is tweeting out modified Forgot About Dre lyrics, which I second. "Surviving" is not what they did the last couple years, though, and we're probably in for a comedown from the highs of the last couple years.

*[Which is just an average of FR/SO/JR/SR weighted by playing time, so that a senior who plays five minutes a game doesn't throw you all out of whack.]

But I didn't want this to happen

Hey, at least the staggering hypocrisy of the NCAA chasing dudes out of school for an infraction that the legal system treats like whatever dude has a really good rationale behind it.

"Whereas the CSMAS rightly focused on the fact that marijuana and other street drugs are not performance enhancing, the committee also recognizes that the universe of sport is special, and the student-athlete is obliged to embrace the spirit of sport."

HAAAAAAAAAAATE

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE

I'ma go build a lego Mark Emmert so I can hurl it off a building.

Comments

Hoops Hello: DJ Wilson

Hoops Hello: DJ Wilson Comment Count

Brian October 6th, 2013 at 2:38 PM

302150[1]

Wilson pictures are thin on the ground. Via Rivals.

CA SF/PF DJ Wilson has committed to Michigan. Informative update…

IS ALREADY HERE, YEAHHHH

GURU RATINGS

Rivals Scout ESPN 247
3*, #135 overall 3*, NR 3*, NR overall
#52 PF
3*, #219 overall
#49 SF

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.

NY2LA:

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."

IMPORTANT

Likes ice cream.

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OFFERS

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.

VIDEO

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.

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Basketball Recruiting: Domino Time

Basketball Recruiting: Domino Time Comment Count

Brian September 25th, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Sounds like Donte Grantham is your next Hello post.

After months of poling down the Mississippi, taking in the sites while chewing on a piece of wheat comes a frenetic burst of machine-gun commitments. Michigan's already seen Trevon Bluiett go off the board to UCLA; Michigan State lost Tyler Ulis to Kentucky. Ypsi's Jaylen Johnson picked Louisville before Michigan could offer.

Those are the first dominoes in a string that should fall over the next couple months. As a reminder, it seems logical that Michigan will take a class of four guys. C Ricky Doyle is committed; Michigan will take one guy they think can play the four, one guy who can play SG, and a wing or combo 3/4.

Combo Forward

Via UMHoops

WV SF/PF Donte Grantham is down to Michigan, Cincinnati, Clemson, and West Virginia. He's taken official visits to Cincinnati and Michigan recently, and Cincinnati responded to their shot a couple weeks ago by taking another combo forward and ceasing their recruitment of him. The tea leaves there combine with insiders on Scout and Rivals predicting good things, and soon. If he drops soon he'll be a Wolverine; the only thing that would give you pause is if he decides to take some additional visits.

Grantham's 6'8" with shooting range and would likely be a stretch four, but has shown some ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. He's a postgrad, so he'll come in a little more polished than other kids.

CA SF/PF Kameron Chatman may drop this weekend on his official visit to Arizona, where Damon Stoudamire is a close friend of the family. Michigan seems to be running second at the moment; if Chatman escapes the desert uncommitted they will have a real shot. Chatman will have to act fast if he's going to join the Michigan class, though, since…

CA SF/PF DJ Wilson appears next on the pecking order. A fringe top 150 kid to the sites, Wilson is a high academic kid who took an official to Columbia—yes, that one—and is scheduled to go to Gonzaga this weekend. Michigan will host him the week after, and if an offer is forthcoming may drop on the spot. He says flat-out that Michigan leads. Wilson's even bigger than Grantham, pushing 6'9", and he sounds like a Beilein guy all the way. ESPN:

Strengths:
He is still growing at almost 6-foot-9 and his ball skills (in the open court) as well as his 3-point shot are impressive. He can face-up defenders and maneuver his way to the rim as well.

Weaknesses:
Wilson is a great prospect but his assertiveness at both ends needs attention. He plays in spurts and doesn't exert much energy consistently, especially in the areas of rebounding and defending.

Sounds like Evan Smotrycz 2.0. Hopefully he can get those deficiencies ironed out.

NV SF/PF Jonah Bolden is settling in at Findlay but cannot take official visits until he has an SAT score. That happens in October for him. He's planning on a spring decision, and while he just put Michigan in his top ten and rumblings have M in a strong position for him, timelines might not work out.

On the other hand: if Bolden shows that he's an elite recruit this fall, Michigan should have a spot for him. The projection above assumes Michigan banks a scholarship. If he's just that good they could say "screw it" and take him.

Shooting Guard

MS SG Devin Booker seems to be trending towards Kentucky. Depending on who you talk to his friendship with Ulis is either important or not, but it certainly doesn't hurt the Wildcats that he's on board. That Booker is still on recruiting boards after seven unofficials to Michigan and a recruitment that started in eighth grade implies that he's been looking for something he hasn't found in Ann Arbor; the vibe here is that this has gone on too long for this to end well. See Wesphal, Parrker.

old-timey haircut FTW

IN SG James Blackmon, Jr. is the other A-list option. An Indiana decommit who is a Kentucky legacy, he was thought to be a heavy UK lean. Now folks are split on his eventual destination. He visits Michigan this weekend and has an official to UK set up in mid-October; a recommitment to Indiana is also another possibility.

You'd think that one of Booker/Blackmon committing would put off or maybe even cause Kentucky to stop recruiting the other guy, at which point Michigan would seem to be in good shape, but at Roster Turnover U they may need a whole new damn team next year; tough to predict what UK will do. FWIW, some trawling of UK message boards indicates that fans don't think UK will take both. Here is your grain of salt.

OH SG/SF Javon Bess looks to be the primary backup plan. Bess is drawing a lot of Big Ten interest at the moment, and Michigan is amongst them:

"He said that he’d let us know (about a possible visit), because they’re still recruiting Devin Booker and James Blackmon Jr. They’re going to see about them,” Bess said. “He said in a week or so they’re going to call me and we’re going to set up a visit. If it comes to that, where I set up a visit, then I’ll have a scholarship when I get to Michigan. He said he waits for recruits to get to Michigan to offer them.”

So, that's clearly a plan B thing there.

Likely Outcome

Grantham drops for Michigan soon. Chatman heads to Arizona; Michigan offers Wilson on his visit and he commits. Kentucky picks up one of the shooting guards, and then it's up to them if they want the other. If not, that guy extends his recruitment a bit. I actually feel a bit better about Blackmon than Booker in the event that Kentucky is out of the picture for either. It's 50/50 whether a Plan A picks M; if not, they get Bess.

Michigan then enters the late signing period with an open slot they may or may not use.

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