Wait wait I have a Spongebob meme for this? Man, Colin Castleton released a senior highlight reel and after the third Nowitzki pogo-stick jumper I was all
Did I do that right, fellow kids?
Anyway, here's a guy doing things once you get past the usual open-court dunks:
Castleton displays several different skills that should translate to higher levels, most obviously the shooting and Wagner-like ability to drive to the basket. He might even be better at changing directions? Wagner had a straight line drive and a behind-the-back move that was clunky but effective because of the surprise factor. Castleton looks more fluid. Toss in that EYBL block rate a tick higher than Bol Bol and… uh, yeah.
Caveat from certified insane person Colin From Twitter, who watched a full game:
the game was interesting. he's was clearly figuring out how to play with a constant motor and how to position himself consistently on O and D to be productive. but he turned it on in the last 5 and won the game by himself.
— Manuel Excel (@colintj) April 11, 2018
There are reasons that Castleton isn't ranked where Bol Bol is.
Still, Castleton suddenly seems like this class's most crucial recruit. Seriously: since Michigan doesn't have access to five-star posts, maintaining the five out offense is their best way to compete with teams that do. Castleton promises to do that while adding a ton of rim protection (relative to Wagner, at least). He'll need a year or two of Camp Sanderson before hitting his potential. When he beefs up, look out.
Someone print this out and engrave it on every basketball croot's head until the end of time. Jonathan Tjarks on the weird predicament one-and-dones who disappoint slightly at NBA draft factories:
Trevon Duval declared for the NBA draft last week, but the Duke freshman’s decision was made for him back in January. That’s when Coach K completed a recruiting hat trick by signing Zion Williamson to what was already the top recruiting class in the country, which featured the potential top two picks in next year’s draft (R.J. Barrettand Cameron Reddish) as well as the best pure point guard (Tre Jones, the younger brother of former Duke standout Tyus Jones) in the class. Neither Duval or Gary Trent Jr., his backcourt partner, were able to build up their draft stock at Duke, but both have decided not to give it a second try. They are essentially being pushed out the door by a program that no longer needs them. …
Playing at Duke was a worst-case scenario for Duval’s draft stock. He couldn’t do the things he did well, while his weaknesses were on full display. That’s how he went from a potential lottery pick before the start of the season to no. 50 overall on ESPN’s Top 100 prospects list. Freshmen in that range typically go back to school to work on their games. Most NCAA coaches would love to have a sophomore like Duval running their team and would have tried to sell him on returning by structuring their offense to emphasize his strengths. The situation is different at Duke.
Duval at least got to play and score some and will probably go in the second round. Charles Matthews evaporated off draft boards and had to take a redshirt year at Michigan, a place that actually cared to develop him. It's a big risk to go into a situation like Duke or UK where you get recruited over annually, and that's biting guys on the regular.
Contrast Matthews's situation at UK with what's going on with him at Michigan:
"I just kind of saw what they did with people in my position. I just wanted to come here and learn, get a fresh start," Matthews told ESPN. "I feel like my knowledge has grown a lot more. More open to learning and understanding the game. Really just getting a better grasp of that."
Matthews quickly emerged as one of Michigan's most integral pieces early on this year. He's playing a much different role, with 21 percent of his total offense coming as the pick-and-roll ball handler. He regularly initiates offense in both the half-court and transition. Thanks to his improved ball skills and ability to see over the top of the defense, Matthews' pick-and-roll passes generate 1.25 points per possession for Michigan, which ranks in the 90th percentile in all of college basketball.
"I was always more comfortable with the ball," Matthews said. "I'm happy I've been able to play in two different systems. Play pick-and-roll, play off the ball. I feel like with my increasing handle I'll be able to play with the ball even more."
It's Matthews' steady improvement as a shooter that really has unlocked the rest of his game. Although he is not a natural scorer and he still needs to up his efficiency, Matthews is far more comfortable both with his feet set and off the dribble than he was in the past. He's capable of rising up off the bounce in midrange spots or stepping into spot-up 3s when given time and space -- 56th percentile in unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers -- which bodes well for his NBA outlook if he can continue to progress.
That would never happen at Kentucky. Calipari does a good job of getting his various insane athletes to shed AAU ball and play defense as a unit, but it seems like he hardly has time for anything else and ends up running fairly rudimentary offense for guys who don't tend to improve in the rare case that they come back for a second year. I'm thinking of the conscience-free iso offense the Harrison twins ran against Michigan in the Elite Eight.
I'm not a "when do we see the recruiting benefits?!?!" person—the 2018 class is already enough to make Michigan a top five team for a couple years—but it would be nice if Beilein's development caught the eye of one or two five star types a year and convinced them to pass over the bag for a better chance at a long NBA career. It still baffles that Tyus Battle signed up to run desperate isos at set defenses while spending much of his time practicing a defense the NBA outlaws.
The Mooney thing. News that Michigan is involved with a grad transfer is fairly surprising, but here it is:
Among the head coaches [South Dakota G Matt] Mooney, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound shooting guard, met with were Bobby Hurley, Greg McDermott, Archie Miller, Chris Beard and Dana Altman. He also met with assistants from Iowa State and TCU, plus FaceTime’d with Chris Collins.
“I took a bunch of notes from every meeting,” Mooney said. “I’m going to rank them. I have list of my priorities what I’m looking for and then rank out which school is best.”
But the meetings aren’t done. Fresh off playing in the National Championship game, John Beilein will “tentatively” meet with Mooney next Tuesday.
“I think I’m going to give Michigan a serious look,” Mooney said.
Michigan's scholarship count currently stands at –1; even if Moritz Wagner declares for the draft there isn't a spot unless someone transfers. Michigan will know about the first bit of that by April 22nd at the latest since Wagner's already used up his Get Out Of NBA Draft Declaration Free card. I would in fact assume that Michigan's involvement with Mooney means that non-Wagner attrition is likely. With Eli Brooks and Austin Davis both coming off freshman* years at spots where age is very helpful the obvious candidate is Ibi Watson.
FWIW, Mooney is coming off a 30% usage year in the Summit where he shot 50/36 and hit 83% from the line. A top 50 steal rate also perks the ears up. That's on another level from Jaaron Simmons, who had less usage and an ORTG ten points lower in the MAC a year ago. Mooney also wouldn't be trying to play point guard.
Even if Michigan has the room it seems unlikely that Michigan can offer Mooney anything other than backup SG minutes. Some other team out there is almost certain to have a more attractive depth chart. OSU is involved, and they can say they played Andrew Dakich for 20 minutes a game last year. OTOH, Evan Daniels said Mooney seemed "VERY intrigued," his caps, in a comment about that article on 247.
*[Redshirt freshman in Davis's case, but he's a developmental big who didn't look out of place during his brief time on the floor.]
Also on Davis. Those transfer rumbles were always silly and now he's explicitly debunked them:
Davis vowed to continue working hard and get ready for next season. Michigan will be coming off a 33-8 season and will be a Big Ten contender once again.
“I’ll be here,” Davis said. “I committed to Michigan, and I’m not going anywhere. This season just showed me what I need to do differently.”
Don't give up on bigs. They're big people, people. It takes time.
Got 99 problems and a meniscus in fact happens to be one of them. Ben Mason out for a month or so:
ANN ARBOR -- The Michigan football team will be without Ben Mason for the remainder of spring.
Mason, who will be a sophomore this season, plans to have surgery to repair a torn meniscus he suffered in practice, head coach Jim Harbaugh revealed this week on his "Attack Each Day" podcast.
"He was cracking skulls, doing Ben Mason stuff," Harbaugh said. "As spring ball was going, he complained a little bit about his knee. His knee just didn't feel right."
Shouldn't have any impact on the season… and now it doesn't even have an impact on the Spring Game. RIP, spring game.
Etc.: One last look back at the tourney run. Josh Rosen on nuking mars. Kansas and NC State get added to the FBI probe. Good overview of B10 basketball next year from InsideNU, though it doesn't take Ryan Taylor's transfer to the Wildcats into account. Pac-12 network not so hot.