Following a brief flirtation with the NBA Draft, Charles Matthews decided that his time in Ann Arbor was not complete.
Matthews’ first season under John Beilein was a bit of a roller coaster, but it ended strong with great play in March. Transferring from Kentucky, Matthews was learning a completely new system and implementing novel concepts during game play didn’t come without its struggles:
"I came into the season, we're going over plays and the freshmen were looking at me. And I was like y'all are going to have to look at somebody else. I don't know this stuff either."
Now with a full season under his belt, Matthews will be expected to shoulder a heavier burden.
With the departure of MAAR, Matthews is the only proven playmaker Beilein has among wings. Although he sometimes over-dribbles, Matthews developed chemistry with Jon Teske in the pick and roll last season and he will continued to be called upon to summon it to create shots for both himself and others.
Defensively, Matthews often took the task of defending the best opposing wing and did so admirably. His athleticism and strength provide real deterrents for bigger wings and help slow down offense that has given Michigan trouble for years.
If Michigan is going to have a deep run in March again, Charles Matthews will need to be a big part of it. With his physical abilities and developing skills and chemistry in Beilein’s offense, it’s entirely possible that he can play just that type of role.
Arriving in Ann Arbor via Ontario, Ignas Brazdeikis earned the starting spot in Michigan’s first exhibition game against Northwood.
Brazdeikis is a unique freshman in that he appears likely to play multiple positions for the Wolverines right out of the gate. Beilein makes a point of defining player’s roles and that’s especially true among his young players who have a lot to learn in his new, complex system.
But Brazdeikis isn’t your typical freshman.
At 6’7, he possesses the size to play power forward but the skill and athleticism to move up as high as the shooting guard position. He moves fluidly on the court and can attack mismatches, both big and small, that will remind many Michigan fans of Moritz Wagner.
Of course, that’s not to say that Brazdeikis will produce at the level of Wagner as a freshman, but his versatility in all lineups will help fill a void left by Wagner’s departure.
As with all freshmen, there will be ups and downs with Brazdeikis’ first season in Ann Arbor. But his intriguing skill set makes it likely that the ups will be far higher than with your typical first-year player.
Michigan's annual basketball open practice was yesterday. Takes! You need takes!
Pick and roll focus. After a quick warmup the drills portion of the practice was largely pick and roll, with various managers simulating the various ways teams defend P&R and Michigan executing plays based on the opposition's reaction. There was also a fast break drill that started 3 v 2 or 3 v 1 with the defense getting extra players up to parity after an initial disadvantage.
Positional intrigue. Brooks played the two next to Simpson in the scrimmage; Beilein explicitly noted that a number of players were playing multiple positions. That's par for the course; the interesting bit was that Livers and Johns are both options at center. Michigan ran a little of Livers at C last year, where he looked lost on the offensive end. Johns looked pretty similar during the scrimmage. Despite that I'd expect to see him mostly at the 5. Beilein talked about his "four bigs" at one point and generally referenced Johns as a 5.
Maize was Simpson/Brooks/Nunez/Livers/Teske, with Castleton subbing in at the 5. CJ Baird also got a little run.
Blue was DeJulius/Poole/Matthews/Brazdeikis/Davis, with Johns subbing in at the 5.
Maize won by approximately 8 points (there was no scoreboard but Beilein had it in his head and kept exhorting blue to get some stops), largely on the strength of Simpson and Teske. Beilein was mic'd up and kept relaying items to the crowd—this was delightful—and one of them was a mention that Simpson and Teske had great chemistry in the pick and roll. This was borne out, as Simpson found Teske repeatedly with a series of slick pocket passes that set the Maize team up for easy buckets. Many of these drew "oooohs" from the assembled crowd.
Simpson didn't just find Teske; he was able to set up all manner of his teammates. His shot's still pretty broke; even so he looked like a guy who'd taken another largish leap forward. It felt like he'd be able to get to the lane with more consistency and pay that off more. Simpson's sophomore year already featured a 25% assist rate*, which was around 200th nationally. That was comparable to Derrick Walton's final two years. Trey Burke's Naismith year saw him rack up a 37% assist rate. Simpson could get to 30-32%, maybe? The kind of passes he was making felt like they'd work against a whole hell of a lot of folks.
*[IE, a quarter of Michigan's baskets when Simpson was on the floor were assisted by him.]
[After THE JUMP: a freshman who doesn't feel like one]
Mulch Madness at the Beilein Residence today 15 yards of Mulch delivered In just over 2 hrs the huge pile was gone and put in the beds Thx to Austin , Isaiah , Jon , Jordan , Drew, Zach and Nolan Loved working side by side with these guys again #GoBluepic.twitter.com/XalInNCGo6
I HAVE QUESTIONS. When did Beilein think up "Mulch Madness" and how excited was he to send that tweet?Why does John Beilein need 15 cubic yards of mulch? I need 15 cubic yards of mulch because my entire yard is mulched. Does John Beilein also have a no-grass yard? Did he clear this with compliance? (A: Yes, obviously.) Did that mean the players couldn't have snacks?
Where did he get his mulch? How much did it cost? Is it cheaper than the mulch I buy? What's with the pitchforks, doesn't the mulch fall through? Is it stupid to use a snow-shovel instead of these pitchfork things? That's what I do. Will I force Ace to ask all these questions at a press conference? (A: Yes, obviously.)
He said Saturday he feels the game hasn’t been emphasized enough by Michigan.
“To be quite honest I really feel like over the years, in recent years, there hasn’t been the emphasis that I’m used to being put on that game,” Woodson said.
“Every game has been out on the same level of that game and that’s not the way we were brought up, that’s not the way we were raised around here. And we had no shame in saying it.”
Michigan lost by a literal inch in 2016 and last year had a brilliant gameplan undone by a third string quarterback playing like an eighth string one. Also they went and grabbed a defensive coordinator who runs a 4-2-5 as a base and has a 3-3-5 changeup in an attempt to tackle OSU's spread offense. There have been cracks in the Harbaugh façade—cough cough Drevno—but "doesn't prepare enough for Ohio State" is not one of them.
Sources told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg that Northwestern and Purdue are two possible destinations for Johnson. His brother Cole played in few games as a reserve for Northwestern a few years ago.
This is against the natural way of things where failed Purdue quarterbacks inexplicably go start for major programs in the south, but I suspect Boiler fans will accept this violation of tradition if in fact they do land Johnson. If the Boilers can hold onto Jeff Brohm, who was a candidate during Tennessee's crazy search, they could be in for some Tiller-era seasons. Large ifs, but with Nebraska finally hiring someone who is a good idea the West could be substantially less sad in the near future.
Or Johnson could be so definitively behind Trevor Lawrence he transfers after one spring session because he's not actually that good. Peters's team blew his out, after all.
Camp Sanderson now has data behind it. Moe Wagner came back to Michigan in part because he wasn't an NBA-ready athlete. The bits of this that can be fixed seem to have been fixed, emphatically:
But other assertions are more interesting and less directly contradicted by data. Both guys think Colin Castleton has a chance to be elite:
Bossi’s take: “Castleton is a guy that we gave a pretty big bump to after his senior year because he has always been able to move really well for a kid his size … but what really stood out to me is how quickly his skills emerged. He's become reliable as a 10- to 12-foot jump shooter. He's got a little jump hook, and the production on offense that wasn't really there last spring and summer has started to come on during the high school year. I think he's got confidence now.”
Snow’s take: “Colin is a kid who can really run the court, has good hands and good shooting touch. He's physically not strong yet but he does compete. I think he has a chance to really improve as the years go along. He's going to have to get stronger and spend a lot of time in the weight room, but he's a good athlete, he can block shots, he can score inside, from the mid-range and even step out to 3. He might not be ready for big minutes right away, but I think this is a kid who down the line has a chance to be a special player.”
Brandon Johns is also proposed as a potential 4/5 combo, which would be another way for Michigan to get some stretch 5 minutes even after Wagner's departure.
But at least he made logical hires! So this guy still had a job?
Kansas football went 12-72 during Zenger’s stint as AD. They’ve lost 60 of their last 63 Big 12 games. https://t.co/eekObJ3OnF
This is the kind of stuff I can't see from the broadcast angle. One caveat: pretty sure that's Rutgers providing the opposition. Michigan had almost as many sacks (5) as Rutgers had completions (8) in that game, thus allowing things like "deep centerfield safety gets his nose on a ballcarrier at the line of scrimmage."
I would not trade John Beilein for anyone. Brad Stevens makes you think, though.
WELCOME YOUR NEW GOD GAMBLOR. The Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports gambling, thus paving the way for every state hard up for a little cash to legalize and regulate the wildly popular activity. (Probably: Richard Hoeg has more law-talking details.) And if college athletic departments have their hand out…
Source: Tentative agreement in West Virginia would give WVU and Marshall a cut of sports betting. Would be first two NCAA programs with such an arrangement.
"If this is legalized, what the ADs said is that we'll have to spend more money on compliance and we're going to have increased risk," McMillen told ESPN in a Thursday phone interview. "What was shown, at schools with regulated [sports betting] markets -- Nevada, UNLV -- they spend considerably more on compliance, because it's more open, more transparent, more in your face than the other schools where it's illegal. The fact of the matter is that the onus is going to fall on Marshall and West Virginia."
Those compliance departments have to send out way more than one tweet in March about not joining an NCAA pool? They have to have a workshop about how gambling on sports is bad if you play sports? I'm not sure what the big expense is.
"We believe that students ought to be able to benefit from name, image and likeness but you can’t decide a program until you know the legal parameters,” Rice told USA TODAY Sports. “That was the point. I think some of the commentary suggested that we didn’t really speak on this issue. I think we did speak on this issue, it’s just that we understand there’s a legal framework that has to be developed first.”
Rice said she thought the commission’s report was “pretty clear” in its support of athletes being able to cash in once the various legal issues are resolved. But she maintains that the NCAA cannot do this while a pair of ongoing cases are pending.
"I think people may have looked at the fact that we said there's a legal framework to be developed and said, 'Oh, well, maybe they're punting on this.' Nobody was intending to punt on it."
As something that costs the NCAA nothing, has broad public support, cuts down on a bunch of self-contradictory rulings, and would pave the way for the return of NCAA Football, restoring NIL rights to college athletes is an obvious slam dunk. It thus has a 37% chance of actually happening.
We don’t yet know the order in which the freshmen of 2017-18 will be selected, of course, but, by Jonathan Givony’s lights, we may be due for a similar evaluative echo next month on draft night.
RSCI 2017 Projection 2018
Marvin Bagley III 1 3
Michael Porter, Jr. 2 8
Deandre Ayton 3 1
Mohamed Bamba 4 5
Trevon Duval 5 45
Collin Sexton 6 9
Wendell Carter, Jr. 7 7
Mitchell Robinson 8 22
Jaren Jackson, Jr. 9 4
Kevin Knox 10 15
Yes, Duval stands out, and, sure, projected No. 6 pick Trae Young made very good use of the one additional year of evaluation afforded to NBA teams. The question then becomes whether one-and-done earns its evaluative keep simply by having flagged the fact that Duval “should” drop 40 spots and Young “should” jump 20.
That’s pretty much all the current eligibility requirement is accomplishing in terms of player evaluations. Otherwise, we could have held this draft a year ago, and it would have looked highly similar to what will (we think) transpire next month.
Actually, even that gives one-and-done too much evaluative credit. In an alternate reality where players could be drafted straight out of high school, it’s possible Duval would have been a 2017 pick — but Young, surely, would have gone undrafted. Then, after the amazing freshman season that we now know happened, Young would have been a 2018 lottery pick. In this scenario, then, the lone evaluative function of one-and-done with regard to the top of the board is to prevent Duval from having been a high draft pick a year ago, period.
And Duval had to enter the draft anyway because Duke recruited over him with authority. There are probably some extraordinary busts the NBA has avoided, but the one-and-done rationale about preventing Kwame Browns is extremely flimsy.
No. 16 Kentucky vs. UIC | 2:30 p.m. ET Friday on WatchESPN
Michigan vs. Notre Dame | 12 p.m. Friday on ESPN2
Softball regionals are, well, regional, so that's not a definite statement that Michigan was #17, but if they weren't they were fairly close. Unfortunately, Michigan is entering the tournament on a skid after getting blown out twice at the Big Ten tourney.
Iggy can dunk. But he has still not set a video of himself to Lust for Life.
Big Ten Basketball: bounce-back? Depends on who comes back. “If Fernando gets good advice he’ll be advised ‘you will not develop any more at Maryland.’”
Jaren Jackson translates into Kwame Brown? Dad said go back to school to get more mature.
Craig watched Iggy Brazdeikis film from two years ago. Comps: Scottie Pippen, Jalen Rose, James Harden, but less athletic, still really athletic. Those guys are A+ he’s an A. Right-handed but shoots left. Not a great off-the-dribble shooter but will knock it down on catch and shoot.
Nunez: Tim Hardaway-level perfect shot.
Johns: Should be the new Duncan Robinson.
DeJulius: Derrick Walton with his shot already developed, especially in his off-the-dribble stuff. Love to have a late shot great idea again, and a free thrower. PG is hardest job to do well in Beilein’s system, but shooting makes him useful before he gets there.
Austin Davis can be Jordan Morgan plus a couple inches. Never give up on a big until they’re a junior and can’t play any defense at all.
Spring things: Missed having a spring game to sanity-check the spring football bits. We believe in Dwumfour, but the JBB hype says the freshmen can’t pass protect yet; worry if he’s still starting in fall.
Patterson scout: Tate Foricer’s problem wasn’t football. Lost faith in Peters? Irrelevant; what’s important is Patterson seems to be a better quarterback right now.
End of season takedump: softball and baseball y’all! Natalya Rodriguez has such feet—got charged with an error that’s a hit with anyone else on the field. Baseball started 4-11 and now on a 20-game win streak! Damn the Big Ten: why can’t you have the softball/baseball schedules opposite during conference season so there’s a game every weekend.
Isaiah Livers (So): Nominal starter had 13% usage and played like it, almost exclusively taking open shots someone else created for him. Plus OREB guy and defender.
Ignas Brazdeikis (Fr): Scoring machine is already 19 and has already featured in this series at the 2 and 3, for reasons.
Brandon Johns (Fr): More to prove than Brazdeikis but maybe a higher ceiling.
I HAVE SOME QUESTIONS
[pokes Livers with a stick] hey. do something.
Isaiah Livers's 12.9% usage was the smallest number a Michigan rotation player put up since 2011, when sophomore Matt Vogrich Just-A-Shooter'd himself to 12.8%. The only scholarship player in the Kenpom era to do more than barely pip Livers in invisibility was the senior version of Gavin Groninger, who played 12 minutes a game despite shooting 10% from two and 19% from three. (Michigan basketball: more fun than it used to be.) Livers's FT rate of just above 10 is also in the same "might be the lowest in the Kenpom era" range. 90% of his shots at the rim were assisted, etc.
Livers's tendency to hole up in the corner and produce zero shots for himself or anyone else was a bit disappointing for Michigan's first instate Mr. Basketball winner in a minute. In retrospect, it actually wasn't that surprising. Matt D of Endless Motor provided a scouting report and video last year, and even against high school competition Livers was a jump shooter:
His head is often down when he dribbles against pressure defense though, mitigating his ability to create for others because he doesn't see the entire floor. Doesn't have good enough first step acceleration to create separation off the dribble against guards/wings in a straight line. Doesn't display ability to change direction with the basketball when his defender beats him to the spot or helpside defense cuts off his initial straight line. Does not get all the way to the rim off the dribble based on lack of acceleration and change of direction ballhandling.
That was the case as a freshman and will probably be the case for his career, give or take the usual Beilein development. It's asking a lot to up your usage by 50%, especially when your shot creation is a work in progress.
On the other hand, Livers was pretty good at not having the ball. His 7.4 OREB rate was Michigan's best mark from a non-center since GRIII, and he's the only other Beilein-era wing even in the frame. While I'm fairly leery about Synergy's individual defensive numbers—Zavier Simpson 73rd percentile with Eli Brooks and Jaaron Simmons 87 and 88th?!?!—Livers checking in as Michigan's second-best defender (outside of PG absurdities) behind Charles Matthews agrees with the ol' eye test. On/off splits can be noisy, but a couple things jump out as likely to be real in ~700 possessions against top 100 teams:
Livers provided big rebounding advantages over Duncan Robinson and caused both teams to operate inside the arc more. He was also terribly intimidating to opposition free throw shooters.
Normally, a 3-and-D wing who's a great rebounder would be a perfect fit at the four for John Beilein. Next year's team… maybe less so. Shot creation will be at a premium and it would take a huge leap for Livers to provide much. His target usage next year is probably 16, not 20. With Wagner gone that might be a problem.
Livers has a role next year. He'll improve, and in certain lineups his (probable) inability to create won't be as much of a problem. His familiarity with both Beilein's offense and Yaklich's defense will give him able time early in the year to solidify his spot. He's got a shot. But he's got a lot of competition all of a sudden, and it's 50/50 whether he's able to maintain his early lead. Upping the "3" part of 3-and-D is his best bet—34% probably isn't going to cut it. 40% would.
Which freshman is more likely to push him out of the way?
The twice-aforementioned Ignas Brazdeikis. Brazdeikis is older and spent his last couple years on one of those elite Canadian prep teams, where he put up 33 points per game against a collection of Success Academies; last week he drove to the basket on Bol Bol and actually scored. (Probably because he poked Bol in the eye, but rubbin's racin'.) For those and other reasons covered earlier in this series, Brazdeikis should be Michigan's sixth man immediately, and if he's able to survive on defense his ability to get to the rack will be vital.
But let's not forget Brandon Johns. Johns didn't take the hotshot prep route and saw his stock fall as a result. He spent large amounts of his time dunking on the best future accountants and deeply incompetent prosecutors that Ingham County could provide. The results were entertaining, at least.
Despite the bigger adjustment Johns faces, he is an even cleaner fit at the spot than Brazdeikis if he comes in hot. Johns is going to be the second-best athlete on the team as soon as he enrolls, and he might give Matthews a run for his money. This is a lot of above the rim for one game:
In contrast to Livers, Johns is extremely aggressive and spends most of his time getting to the basket. As per usual with high school prospects, denominators are few and far between… but apparently he shot 72% from 2 during his final high school season. This says something about his competition level, yes. It also suggests that he's allergic to the midrange. Probably? In 16 EYBL games Johns shot 52/44 with about three times more twos than threes; he shot 68% from the line on 40 attempts. AAU, sample size, grain of salt, etc.
This seems like a bit of a logjam. Can they spread this out some?
A bit. Brazdeikis has drawn mention at two other spots for a reason, and should draw most or all of the backup minutes behind Matthews since the 3 and 4 are very similar in Beilein's offense. It's not hard to get him up to 20-25 minutes even if Livers also gets that many.
In addition, Michigan hinted at some smallball lineups featuring Livers at the 5 late in the year. He looked pretty clueless about what to do on offense at the time, but if Michigan has designs on a position-less Villanova mode, he's going to be the guy they run that with. Johns may be more physically capable of holding it down at the 5 but will be in his pupation year and will look as baffled as Livers was this year. If Michigan gets weird it'll be with Livers.
This spot is the most unsettled on the team, in a good way. Michigan has three different four-stars who bring Beilein-style skills and excellent size to the 4, in three different flavors: 3-and-D (Livers), conscience-free bucket acquisition machine(Brazdeikis), and ferocious leaping dunk monster (Johns). Chances are one of those die rolls comes up real nice.
Take this prediction about who emerges with a grain of salt, but I think you'll see Livers start and maintain that role through the year. Early, the freshmen will make a bunch of mistakes on defense that will get them sternly talked to. Late, Livers might give back some playing time as Michigan turns to (potentially) higher-usage guys for a bulk of the minutes. It'll be like this years' Livers-Robinson platoon, except this version of Robinson is really really Not Just A Shooter. Minutes probably get split close to down the middle once you hand Iggy 10 from the 3: Livers gets 20, Iggy gets 20 at two spots, and Johns gets 10.
Charles Matthews (Jr.*): 25% usage and 102 ORTG has to be some sort of somethin' for Beilein-era players. NBA athlete, superior defender. Not currently on NBA radars because of shooting deficiencies.
Ignas Brazdeikis (Fr.): 19 YO Canadian would be top 40 recruit if folks ranked him. Gets buckets.
Adrien Nunez (Fr): Just A Shooter but at 6'5" can plausibly defend the 3.
I HAVE SOME QUESTIONS
How close is Matthews to his ceiling?
The last time Michigan had a starter with an ORTG around Matthews's 101.6, Zak Irvin was scuffling through a 48/30 season; the team trundled to a 23-13 record and a First Four tourney bid. The most recent edition of Michigan did a lot better… but it would be nice if Matthews could turn it around. Irvin added ~8 ORTG points as a senior, for a target. There's good news and bad news here as Matthews attempts to match that.
1 TO vs Houston and most of the rest of the tourney schedule [JD Scott]
The good news: "Turnover" Matthews may have run steps when redshirting and frustrated fans to no end during his rough stretch in the middle of the season, but… actually, a 16.5 TO rate from a 25% usage guy isn't horrendous. God Himself Donte DiVincenzo had a TO rate of 16.9 on 23% usage. Various Big Ten non-Cs with a worse TO rate than Matthews last year include Jae'Sean Tate, Cassius Winston, Jaren Jackson, Brad Davison, Bryant McIntosh, Trent Frazier—none of whom matched Matthews's usage.
Matthews's problem was that at one point his TO rate was horrendous and his vector was pointing the wrong way:
A series of increasingly disastrous games pushed his season TO rate to 19.2 by late February, and it got uglier once you dropped the tomato cans. It was around this time certain bloggers started pleading to move whatever usage was available from Matthews to Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, a man so allergic to turnovers that he explodes if he enters a bakery.
Michigan did this, and things immediately got better. The MAAR Accessories game against Maryland saw Mathews use 21% of Michigan's possessions, his lowest output since early January. Michigan blew the doors off, Matthews turned it over just twice, and the stage was set. The graph above turned into this:
And even the five TO blip against Montana came about largely because a desperate Michigan funneled Matthews 31% usage in terrible end-of-clock situations. (Also one of his three TOs against Villanova should been charged to Ibi Watson.)
This looks like a genuinely changed player. 11 games against tourney-ish competition (and Iowa!) is probably the toughest stretch of Michigan's season, and while Matthews's usage did drop into role player territory during the Big Ten Tournament he re-emerged into a >20 player in the Large Dance without ill effect despite Michigan playing Houston, Texas A&M, Loyola-Chicago, and Villanova—all top 20 Ds.
Another year in the same system and with the same relentless attention to detail should only improve Matthews's ability to not boot the ball into the crowd. While his finishing run is optimistic it's closer to what he should do in 2018-19 than his previous output.
An irregular series about next year's basketball team. Previously: Point guard.
bench mob no more [JD Scott]
Jordan Poole (So): [cartoonish SUPER VILLAIN] Oh no! An OVERDOSE of SWAG. [/dies]
(108 ORTG on high-ish usage, 52/36 shooting, 82% from line, needs work on defense, breakout candidate)
Adrien Nunez (Fr): Just a shooter?
Ibi Watson (Jr): played about 3 MPG, shot 46/32, other numbers useless due to sample size.
Mystery Man (???): He's either pirated from other spots on the roster or a mid-major who thought they really had something.
I HAVE SOME QUESTIONS
Didn't Ace already write this post?
Sort of! Kind of! Mostly, yeah.
Questions one through five at this spot are "what happens to Jordan Poole?!," and Ace just posted one of those one-Q mailbags about Poole and his recent Michigan comparables:
I've used Bart Torvik's invaluable site to pull the statistics of Poole and his comparables against top-50 (venue-adjusted) competition. When you ignore minutes and usage for a moment—two factors with clear explanations I'll get to momentarily—there's a clear match for Poole: Stauskas.
Trey Burke, mostly thrown in as an extra data point, had far different usage as a pure point guard. The rest are wings and therefore more comparable. The numbers that give me optimism regarding Poole are his two-pointers—taken with relative frequency, finished with efficiency—and his combination of high usage, extant assist rate, and low turnover rate.
Stylistically, Poole is absolutely more Stauskas than any other Beilein-era SG/SF. Both are archetypically Not Just A Shooter. The freshman versions of both attacked closeouts relatively well, hit free throws, sniped from the outside, rarely turned it over, and had a healthy-for-a-freshman-NJAS assist rate. Their FT rates are nearly identical; their 3PA/FGA rates are nearly identical.
There's obviously a big gap in minutes, but roster composition explains all of that. The only vaguely guard-shaped objects on the bench in 2012-13 roster were fellow freshmen Spike Albrecht (short) and Caris Levert (willowy). Poole was on the same roster as the senior version of Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Charles Matthews, The Kentucky Transfer.
If we overlook minutes, the main differences between the two are efficiency and usage. Stauskas hit 44% of his threes as a freshman versus Poole's 36%. Stauskas was a fourth banana with 17% usage; Poole got more shots up per 40 than anyone on the team not named Moritz Wagner. Stauskas was surrounded by Trey Burke, Naismith Edition, and a junior Tim Hardaway Jr. Poole was surrounded by Zavier Simpson and Charles Matthews—good players but nowhere near that level.
This is part problem and part promise. Problem: Poole was a walking heat check as a freshman, which depressed his efficiency and upped his usage. Hopefully he'll play a little bit more within himself once he's on the floor for most of the game. Promise: Michigan needs someone to create shots. They need someone with some lip curl on offense. They need a guy who unbalances defenses. Poole can be that guy.
Ace suggests that a Stauskas leap is optimistic but achievable…
The Stauskas leap remains spectacular. He significantly upped his usage, improved his efficiency while taking on a much greater role as a distributor, and even improved significantly as a three-point shooter despite taking way more of his shots off the bounce.
I still think Poole can do something quite similar. He may not have played the early minutes Stauskas did, but he played a lot of important minutes and took on a bigger role when he saw the floor. Meanwhile, a lot of what he did on the court looked downright Stauskas-esque. Both are known for their unabashed three-point gunning, but what really separates the two is their ability to score from all three levels (rim, midrange, three).
…and yeah, it is. Ace didn't mention the other really encouraging thing about Poole: his age. He won't turn 19 for a couple more months, which makes him more Caris Levert (who turned 19 the August after his freshman year) than Stauskas (who turned 19 a month into his). Levert made an even bigger jump than Stauskas in year two, going from the overwhelmed guy in the table above to a 112 ORTG, 21% usage guy playing 34 MPG.
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[long gushing thread about Poole’s ceiling]
Nick: And Livers and Teske are still so young. And then the incoming class…
Seth: Yeah in two years this could be Beilein’s best team ever.
Nick: I don’t even know which of these guys to be the most excited about!
Seth: Is that your TWO question?
Seth: Good because we’ve been talking about the same thing in slack all this time.
Ace: Just one? Top three? Top five? I have a hard time containing my enthusiasm with this bunch and the 2018 class.
Seth: Should we try to come up with a consensus rank?
Brian: Top three. Ordered by projected alpha dog on the 2019-2020 team.
Ace: I’m gonna drop this in from the discussion that led to this topic:
Alex: I mean the roster in two years could look like:
PG - Z, Brooks/DeJulius
SG - Poole, Nunez
SF - Iggy, Johns
PF - Livers, Johns
C - Teske, Castleton
I don't want to get too far ahead of myself but that's a group that could do some big things, especially if Z continues to improve
This, of all things, is going to kill me.
Brian: First and second year players on this team and the incoming croots are eligible.
Seth: So Iggy has one spot.
Ace: Does he, though?
Brian: Alpha dog is defense and rebounding inclusive. Everyone has their own list.
Ace: I thought the same thing and then I looked over everything again and this is really damn hard. There’s a legitimate argument for everyone on Alex’s two-deep outside of Brooks and probably Nunez, and those guys aren’t exactly dead weight.
247 changed latest commit Ignas Brazdeikis's composite ranking to reflect that half the services don't bother to rank foreign prospects. He's now the #42 overall player in the class, which would place him as the fifth-highest ranked signee in John Beilein's Michigan tenure, per Orion Sang.
It really can't be overstated how nice it is to be one of maybe three or four major college basketball programs that isn't in a full state of panic over the possibility of an FBI raid. We're already seeing the fallout for other programs: Arizona lost a five-star commit; Louisville no longer has a coach, athletic director, or 2018 recruiting class, and they've suspended five-star freshman Brian Bowen. There's surely more to come, as Nike's EYBL, the most prominent AAU league, has been served with a subpoena.
Meanwhile, both recruits and coaches have to figure out how to navigate the post-Feds recruiting landscape, and both sides appear to be acting with great caution. The top overall recruit in the class, RJ Barrett, is no longer visiting Arizona after they were linked to the scandal. He's also no longer visiting Michigan this weekend and has eliminated the Wolverines; given Beilein's sterling reputation, read into that what you will.
It's going to be a long, messy ride for many of college basketball's top programs. Beilein's insistence on sticking to rules almost literally nobody else follows has rankled in the past, even those who want a generally clean program, but he sure looks better for it today. Running a program that isn't in danger of major sanctions or, like, having coaches literally end up imprisoned is going to be a major draw for the foreseeable future.