Hoops Preview 2014-15: Wings, Part 2

Submitted by Ace on 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.]

Kameron Chatman

Year: Freshman
Measurables: 6'7", 210
247 Composite Ranking: 4*, #7 SF, #27 OVR
Highest Ranking: 5*, #6 SF, #23 OVR (Scout)
Lowest Ranking: 4*, #11 SF, #38 OVR (ESPN)
Highlight Tapes: MaxPreps 2013-14 Highlights, NBPA Top 100 Camp, MaxPreps single-game reel, UMHoops Italy Rewind (stats & video)

Chatman is a remarkably intriguing prospect for Beilein's offense because of his unusual development path as a high-schooler. As recently as his sophomore season, Chatman was a 6'3" point guard; then he sprouted into a 6'7", 210-pound skilled wing with excellent rebounding instincts, and his recruiting profile rose to that of a borderline four/five-star on all four services.

In fact, Chatman may not be done growing, or at least he can effectively play larger than his listed height: his wingspan is nearly 6'10", and he's got the lanky frame to easily add more weight as his career progresses. He should be an upgrade on the boards over Robinson, who possessed more athleticism but less length and feel for rebounding.

There's the potential for Chatman to be a significant contributor on offense beyond putbacks, as well. He's got a solid mid-range game and has worked on extending his range out past the three-point line; he shot 4-for-12 from beyond the arc during Michigan's tour of Italy, and that was using the FIBA three-point line, which is a little over a foot further from the basket than on an NCAA court. If Chatman can simply be a GRIII-level 30% three-point shooter—certainly not out of the question—that'll provide the spacing necessary to keep the lane open for the likes of LeVert and Walton.

Chatman can also handle the rock adeptly for a player of his size and can facilitate the offense. As a lefty who'll mostly play on the right side of the court as the four in Beilein's system, Chatman should be called upon to run some high screens—he worked on that in Italy—and he's got the skills required to make that work, per Scout ($):

Chatman, a 6-foot-8 combination forward, assisted the field goal that forced overtime, made a keen baseline pass for a three to start overtime, plus hit a pair of free throws and the game winning three with a second left to win.

For his size, Chatman has tremendous ball skills, an impressive feel for the game and is a very good facilitator. Of Chatman's 11 field goals, four were mid-range pull-ups. He's comfortable shooting off the dribble and also has confidence in his post turnaround jumper.

In fact, his dribbling and passing ability lead off UMHoops' excellent video breakdown of his game:

Chatman isn't going to be the elite transition player that Robinson was—he's got plenty of athleticism, just not of the jump-out-of-the-gym variety—but he can help make up for Robinson's lost production in other ways, namely rebounding, handling the occasional high screen, and learning to time those backdoor cuts to the hoop as well as GRIII did from the same position. As the probable fourth option on this team, focusing on those areas should be more than enough to keep the offense rolling.

Defensively, Chatman's biggest initial impact will come from his rebounding; there's hope here that he can be an instant upgrade over Robinson in that regard. His continuing physical development should help him hold up against bigger forwards, though defending down low—and defense in general—will be a work-in-progress like it is with just about any freshman.

DJ Wilson

Year: Freshman
Measurables: 6'9", 220
247 Composite Ranking: 4*, #32 SF, #123 OVR
Highest Ranking: 4*, #14 PF, #69 OVR (Scout)
Lowest Ranking: 3*, #55 SF, #247 OVR (247)
Highlight Tapes: Junior Mixtape, MaxPreps Holiday Classic Highlights, Senior Playoff Mixtape

Wilson is a major wild card on this team after making a big move up the recruiting rankings late in the 2014 cycle. (Sound familiar, anyone?) Scout, the most reliable basketball source of the four services, ended up placing Wilson well inside their top 100 after he showed off tantalizing skill to go along with his lanky 6'9" frame over the course of his senior season ($):

An unranked three-star coming out of the summer, Wilson is now No. 67 overall and considered a four-star prospect. Wilson has gotten bigger and stronger over the past six months, and that combines with an excellent size and skill combination to push him comfortably into the top 100.

Wilson really impressed national analyst Evan Daniels during January in an in-person viewing, and now the 6-foot-9 forward has a chance to come in and be a big time contributor for the Wolverines. He still needs to add strength, but everything else is there, and Wilson is someone who is definitely on the rise.

Wilson fits the profile of a Beilein stretch four better than anyone he's had at Michigan save perhaps Evan Smotrycz, and I'm not even sure about that. He's 6'9" with a 7'3" wingspan; at 220 pounds, he's already big enough to at least get by at the four, and he's got plenty of room to fill out and become a major presence around the basket.

Meanwhile, Wilson stands out on tape by being a very smooth operator for a player his size. He's a fluid athlete with plenty of spring in those legs—he can throw down highlight-reel dunks and was a very productive shot-blocker in high school. He gets up and down the floor really well and can spark a fast break off his own rebounds or blocks. He's got soft touch at the rim. He's already got college-ready shooting range. The highlight reel creates plenty of reason for excitement:

Wilson wasn't able to play in the Italy tour due to finger surgery that cost him six weeks over the summer, but he's been practicing in full for a couple weeks, and Beilein likes how he's developed both on the court and in the weight room:

"I've liked what I've seen," Beilein said of Wilson's return to the floor. "He's another guy who can multi-position at any of the three frontline spots. He has gained significant weight, good weight. ... I look forward to getting some more consistency with what he's doing, but he's picked things up quickly as well."

As Beilein noted here, Wilson could also play as an oversized three or undersized five, though it'd be a little surprising if he did the latter much this year unless he's added a great deal of strength.

Wilson should eventually develop into the ideal stretch four—or even stretch five—for Beilein's system. How quickly he starts rounding into form will help determine just how good Michigan can be this year; if he's able to play 15-20 productive minutes a game, he gives the Wolverines a size/skill/athleticism combination on the interior that they simply don't have anywhere else on the roster.

Also, he has great hair. Just had to point that out.

Aubrey Dawkins

Year: Freshman
Measurables: 6'6", 190
247 Composite Ranking: 3*, #79 SG, #325 OVR
Highest Ranking: 3*, #70 SG (247)
Lowest Ranking: NR (Scout)
Highlight Tapes: Senior Mixtape, UMHoops Scouting VideoUMHoops Italy Rewind (stats & video)

Dawkins committed at the tail end of April after taking a prep year in 2013-14. The son of Stanford head coach and former Duke standout Johnny Dawkins, Aubrey flew almost entirely under the radar; before Michigan swooped in, he appeared destined to end up at Dayton, and his other offers came from Cal Poly, College of Charleston, and Northeastern.

This confuses me a great deal. At 6'6", 190 lbs., Dawkins isn't lacking the size to play on the wing at this level. He most definitely doesn't lack the requisite athleticism, either:

hello rim how's your day been mine's going quite well thanks

Then Michigan gets to Italy and Dawkins is showing off a smooth outside shot (5/8 3-pt over the four games) and beating the occasional guy off the dribble in addition to finishing in transition like you'd expect an athlete who can do the above would do. He did an excellent job of filling the GRIII void: run and finish on the break, pick up easy buckets when teammates create openings, and otherwise stay out of the way.

At the very least, Dawkins looks like a potential three-and-D role player off the bench whose size and athleticism allows him to defend multiple positions; with his pedigree and eye-popping vertical, it strikes me as bizarre that he didn't pick up more high-major interest. Scout's Brian Snow thinks Dawkins may be another late recruiting coup for Beilein ($):

Dawkins would fit the mold of the late bloomer that Beilein has done so well with. He had a very solid year at New Hampton Prep, and earned a lot of buzz late in the process. While he struggled against top competition at the NBA Camp in the summer, the word is Dawkins has made tremendous strides and could be a late steal on the wing for the Wolverines.

Either Dawkins or Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman must contribute immediately off the bench to give LeVert and Irvin some rest, and Dawkins has an obvious role—finish in transition, hit open threes, find easy looks as a cutter, and play passable defense—that he should be able to fill. In all likelihood, both Dawkins and MAAR are going to play this year, but if I had to go with one I think Dawkins is more likely to see extensive time; he's got the complementary skills to be productive filling in the gaps while surrounded by an experienced, skilled squad.

Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman

Year: Freshman
Measurables: 6'4", 175
247 Composite Ranking: 2*, #87 SG, #384 OVR
Highest Ranking: 3*, #65 SG (247)
Lowest Ranking: 2*, #102 SG (ESPN)
Highlight Tapes: DUNK IN YOUR FACE, UMHoops Senior Highlights, UMHoops Scouting Video, UMHoops Italy Rewind (stats & video)

MAAR produced at a record-setting level in high school, but there are caveats: he didn't play in a hotbed for hoops talent, he didn't play in heavily scouted AAU tournaments or camps, and he was almost literally the oldest a player could be while staying eligible for high school basketball—he's already 20 years old, just a week younger than junior Caris LeVert.

Perhaps as a result, MAAR was another late offeree Beilein landed without much in the way of competition; his other offers came from Bucknell, Drexel, George Mason, and Harvard. His advanced age should mean he's more physically ready to hit the court than your average freshman; on the flip side, it means one must take his high school numbers with a grain of salt, as he amassed them largely against younger competition.

Michigan lacks a backup guard who can handle occasional point guard duties in addition to playing on the wing, however, and that should be the role MAAR slides into this season. He's already got a signature skill, too, after carrying a reputation as a foul magnet in high school before recording an absurd 108.7% free throw rate in Italy—yes, he drew so many fouls that he ended up attempting more free throws (25) than field goals (23). He needs to work on his shooting beyond the arc (2/10 from three in Italy compared to 9/13 from two) and from the line (16/25), but he appears to have a great feel for when to go up around the hoop.

If MAAR can find a way to continue that success, he's got a role on this squad, especially since he also has the potential to emerge as a defensive stopper. At 6'4", his length could give opposing point guards problems, and he came away with nine steals over those four games in Italy. He left high school with the reputation as a versatile, energetic defender, and that alone might be enough to get him on the court.

The four recruiting sites literally stopped scouting the guy during his senior season, so his potential impact is very much a mystery. Like Dawkins, however, it appears he's got a role carved out for him if he's ready for it.



October 22nd, 2014 at 12:53 AM ^

his rebounding was the most disappointing part of his game, imo.  i believe he barely averaged 3 rebounds per game.  that's a joke for a power forward getting 30 min per game.  you should luck into that many.

rebounding is mostly hustle and desire.  GRIII seemed to lack that.  hopefully, his replacements will have more.

The Man Down T…

October 21st, 2014 at 5:37 PM ^

"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..."


The better news is that we have a coach who will have these kids playing like NBA all stars by the end of the season.  Bring it NCAA tourney.  We are coming for you!


October 21st, 2014 at 7:58 PM ^

i knocked spike for his D (and still do) but his shooting % off the bench still amazes me, not to mention i respect the game / effort thrown at kate upton.  backup PG can be tough to fill at big time programs bc elite players want clock early and are prone to transfer if not seeing it (or not enrolling at all if they see too much competition).  spike has exceeded all expectations to date but obviously beilein wasnt worried about his no star 5'10" guard with obvious athletic / defensive limitations.  

hopefully he maintains his knack for not only banging shots but knowing when to take those shots, given increased minutes - not sure his exact shooting % to date but i know its ridiculous, any approximation would be great this year.  

no doubt, itll be tough to find another brass-balled guard who somehow always seems to make what he puts up even in 5-10 mins / game


October 22nd, 2014 at 12:56 AM ^

you must be kidding right?  you are most concerned about replacing a back up point guard?  not sure what to say about that.

spike is a much more servicable player than i had anticipated but i have very little concern about replacing 10-15 of his playing minutes.  the incoming class can easily take over those minutes...plus we have a guy named walton on the team.

Low Key Recidivist

October 21st, 2014 at 6:54 PM ^

I believe all four will contribute his year out of necessity and the fact that they all fill certain needs on offense or defense; MAAR will likely get the short end of the stick since the depth at the guards is much deeper.

Chatman doesn't have the athleticism that gets the NBA's panties bunched up, but I believe he will leave a solid legacy at UM.  Perfect system for him, great versatility and he has talent around him.  This kid is going to be very productive, the proverbial stat sheet stuffer.  The fact that he is a very good rebounder from the 3 is a very positive sign as Ace pointed out.

I think it will take some time to see how Wilson pans; there are positive indicators, but he also may end up being Air Georgia 2.0.  He certainly has more skills than most of the 4's that JB has recruited, and with this staff's track record of development, I wouldn't rule anything out.

Low Key Recidivist

October 22nd, 2014 at 5:55 PM ^

Didn't mean to imply that Chatman wouldn't be a pro prospect at some point, just that he doesn't have the elite athleticism that the NBA normally drools over.  He's a very intriguing player because of all the skills he brings to the table.  IMO he's already a better ball screen player than Stauskas was as a frosh.  

Low Key Recidivist

October 21st, 2014 at 6:54 PM ^

I believe all four will contribute his year out of necessity and the fact that they all fill certain needs on offense or defense; MAAR will likely get the short end of the stick since the depth at the guards is much deeper.

Chatman doesn't have the athleticism that gets the NBA's panties bunched up, but I believe he will leave a solid legacy at UM.  Perfect system for him, great versatility and he has talent around him.  This kid is going to be very productive, the proverbial stat sheet stuffer.  The fact that he is a very good rebounder from the 3 is a very positive sign as Ace pointed out.

I think it will take some time to see how Wilson pans; there are positive indicators, but he also may end up being Air Georgia 2.0.  He certainly has more skills than most of the 4's that JB has recruited, and with this staff's track record of development, I wouldn't rule anything out.


October 21st, 2014 at 8:05 PM ^

  • PG: Walton backed up by Albrecht
  • Wing (G):  Levert backed up by MAAR and Albrecht
  • Wing (G/F): Irvin backed up by Dawkins and MAAR
  • Wing (F): Chatman backed up by Dawkins [in some matchup situations Irvin and Donnal may slide here too]
  • Center:  Doyle backed up by Donnal & Bielfeldt & Wilson

Wilson, like Donnal, has nice potential as a '4' down the line, but is too far away from being a useful contributer.  For now, Beilein's going to ask Chatman and Dawkins to do the Novak/Robinson things the '4' has been doing for many years.  Wilson's not good enough yet to be a Smotryz/Sims type of player - that would just take looks away from our wing-guards. If he's going to make an impact now it will be at Center, not PF. 

Smotrycz played the 5 at times when he was here (which probably contributed to his transfer) and Horford wasn't much thicker when he was young.  Wilson as a 5 makes more sense because he can use his shot-blocking presence defensively and he can take advantage of matchups against centers out on the perimeter. At the 4, he doesn't get to use his shot-blocking as much and his matchup advantage is negated (just as Zack Novak's was when he tried to play a guard spot). AND he provides a different look than Donnal, Doyle, or Bielfeldt because of the shot-blocking potential.

Chatman's not going to rebound much (if any) more than Robinson.  It's not what Beilein wants his '4' doing. He wants him focused on boxing out or getting out in transition.  Irvin, Levert and Walton are all decent rebounders and of course it's the centers job first and foremost. It was true for Novak, Robinson, and Sims -- none of them rebounded much and it wasn't because they were too small. Beilien doesn't want these guys crashing the glass, by design.


October 21st, 2014 at 9:30 PM ^

DJ Wilson seems set up to show some flashes this year and then be a breakout freak next year. That wingspan and reported athletic fluidity, when mixed with Beilein development magic, could produce the next lottery pick to follow Levert.


October 22nd, 2014 at 12:05 AM ^

We could win it all this year. Walton will bring Trey Burke 2012 production. Levert and Irvin will be all B1G, and Chatman will be Robinson of last year. Donnal and Doyle are X factors, and I love our bench with Spike Dawkins MAAR and Wilson. We are deep, we can shoot, we will rebound, and we have Beilein. I expect big things this year. We may not win the conference but I expect us to be gelled as a unit by March. Call me crazy, but I see a final 4 this year.


October 22nd, 2014 at 12:21 AM ^

So Walton is gonna win Wooden National Player of the Year? Michigan is gonna have a player win B10 Player of the Year 3 years in a row? We're gonna win the conference and go to the Final Four with a freshman Center to boot? 


You. Crazy. Son.






But I believe! :D

Perkis-Size Me

October 22nd, 2014 at 8:25 AM ^

I'll have what you're having...

But in all seriousness, I just don't see it this year. Unless Donnal develops into an absolute force under the basket, we're going to get outmuscled for a lot of rebounds this year. I expect Beilein to to get the most out of all his players, and we'll absolutely make the tournament, but Final Four? If we beat Syracuse and Zona this year, I'll start believing.

That being said. If everyone makes their expected progressions under Beilein, and they all come back for the 2015 season, a Final Four would not be out of the question.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


October 22nd, 2014 at 12:45 PM ^

While optimistic, I don't think it's entirely offbase to predict a huge leap for Walton.  Trey had the benefit of playing in an ideal system with excellent supporting talent- he took full advantage of it.  Walton may not be quite as good, but it's reasonable to think he can contend with Ferrell for all-conference first team and POY. Walton is a better shooter than Trey, similar ball-handler, and potentially a better defender. The question is if he has the intangible "IT" that Trey had.

The part I disagree about is the frontline. GR3 is wildly underrated by the Michigan fanbase.  There's seems to be a heavy discount for his contributions due to expectations (recruiting hype) and natural talent.  That athleticism is rare - and it helped Michigan dramatically.  Chatman can do some of it, and has a different game, but it's doubtful he has the overall talent that GR3 has, nor the overall skill level and knowledge that GR3 played with as a sophomore.  Chatman played a VERY low level of HS basketball. He is talented, but it will take time. I would not be surprised if Dawkins gets equal minutes.

The big issue is, of course, center.  That's the unknown, but we do know that Morgan played his role perfectly and Horford was darn good as a backup too. Whatever offensive advantages Donnal and Doyle have are negiligible because with the guards and wings we have, offensive firepower isn't lacking.

Can't ever expect a final 4, but this team COULD be better than last year for one big reason -- perimeter defense should be dramatically improved.


October 22nd, 2014 at 12:44 PM ^

So if MAAR put up great numbers against younger competition, he will still be playing against a lot of younger competition in college. Maybe the drop-off won't be so bad, and, after a year of Beilein, he could be a man amongst boys again. (Well, metaphorically.)