Colin Castleton David DeJulius Adrien Nunez and Brandon Johns
We're coming, we're coming, our brave little band [Marc-Grégor Campredon]

This Week's Obsession: Grading the Y2Ks Comment Count

Seth March 2nd, 2019 at 8:17 AM


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The Question: Rate your personal hype level about Michigan's non-Iggy freshmen. Yes this is mostly a Castleton question.

Alex: Castleton 8, DDJ 7, Johns 6, Nunez

Seth: DE WHO LI US!!!!!!!! /crashes into wall

Ace: I loved this freshman class so these numbers are gonna be high.

Brian: I'm mad at myself for not realizing that Castleton rebounded his half-court miss and put it back, so his only unsuccessful involvement was the dorfed transition dunk. This fact thus escaped basketbullets.

Alex: I'm about two or three more good Castleton performances away from calling him a future first round pick.  Is that irrational? Maybe. Is he going to have something resembling the DJ Wilson career arc minus the redshirt? ...Maybe!

Brian: Yeah, he looks like a dude. He was mostly posting smaller guys and would get killed by Oturu but the way he was able to attack them was really encouraging. In control, patient, really effective with upfakes.

Good hands, too.

Ace: Castleton: 9. He’s got the ability to be Wagner With Defense and while the Nebraska game comes with an Isaiah Copeland-sized caveat he made plays that look repeatable against any competition. One of the main reasons Michigan was so ineffective with Austin Davis on the floor is that his teammates clearly didn’t trust him to catch entry passes of any sort; not so with Castleton, who also performed the important task of catching those passes. A lot of Jon Teske’s offensive value derives from his lack of turnovers—you’re usually expecting a certain number when you’re asking a seven-footer to catch bounce passes and deal with help defense—and Castleton looks like he could have similarly excellent hands.

Seth: My mind's not even thinking about next year and beyond with these guys. If Michigan's found themselves a backup center literally hours before March it's LFGOooooo time.

Alex: I guess this isn't the time for my "Michigan's gonna be better next season" take then, eh?

Seth: Can we March? It's March.

Brian: I may agree with that but let's try to focus on the most Jon Rothstein of months.

BiSB: We may need to tap the brakes juuuuuuust a bit on Colin Castleton: 2019 Final Four MOP.  At least until we see him against someone other than Post-Combustion Nebraska.

Alex: About last night: he was good on offense but his defense was even more encouraging to me. Dakich’s comment when he was playing defense — that he was talking a lot out there — was a good point. Seemed like there were so many breakdowns when Davis and Johns were out there and the five has a lot of responsibility to communicate.

Castleton guarded screens correctly as far as I could tell and seemed to always be in the right place. Just like how the team seems much more in sync with Teske out there vis a vis those other two, I felt that way about Castleton. And hey, if there's any program where I can make ludicrously optimistic predictions about a player's trajectory...

Brian: Yeah, he's a much more natural 5 than Johns, who just got out-lengthed a lot. Nobody's out-lengthing Castleton. Bouncing him into the stands maybe.

Alex: I'm looking forward to Johns at the 4. I think that this experiment just didn't work out.

Seth: I think we are vastly underestimating what Colin Castleton: 2019 Final Four guy who plays 10 minutes and doesn't explode does for this team. He's a five who is neither a wing nor a true freshman wing. It lets Michigan use its Sixth Man of the Year as something else, like, oh, when Matthews has an ankle or Poole needs to have The Talk to take two examples from nothing in particular.

BiSB: Johns as a perimeter defender has looked less than encouraging.

Brian: And there's a night and day difference in the team's seeming confidence in him as a roller. He's a much bigger target, functionally, than Davis/Johns. Johns is in the middle of a Chase Winovich At H-Back year where he's been trying to learn something he's not really suited for. He'll improve.

The thing about Castleton is that there's a lot more in his toolbox that he hasn't shown yet. Now that some of his skill is translating that senior highlight video we were hyped about looks even more tantalizing:

Seth: The TIL here was Castleton has hands. You all saw the play against Nebraska that sent everyone in Crisler digging out their "Throw it to the Ent!" posters. He's rolling, he's got six inches to work with, and made it look so smooth.

Alex: Feel like I should mention that I was impressed by Simpson's willingness to get him the ball last night. X only had two shots and fed Teske and Castleton all game. Getting him comfortable running with the ones is of paramount importance and that starts with X. He has to have confidence in Castleton to make plays, and I think he showed that he did. A lot of point guards probably wouldn't do that.

Brian: Poole as well. I'm sure this week of practice has been nonstop attacking switches.

Alex: Rightfully so. Also a lot of "Get the big man the [email protected]$&^! ball."

Brian: It feels like Michigan finally has a couple of guys they can do that with. Moe wouldn't even bother posting up most of the time.

Seth: If Castleton wants to break Nick Ward's ankles in Breslin next week I'm cool with that too.

Slackbot: image

BiSB: If there has ever been a keener interest in a Camp Sanderson project, I'm not sure I can remember one.

Brian: I mean... he does that on the highlight video a few times.

Seth: Yeah I said that with nudge nudge look up eyes. (This is a very visual roundtable)

[AFTER THE JUMP: A luxury no Beilein team has ever had]


Alex: @bryan DJ Wilson. Or Caris LeVert. AND LOOK HOW THOSE GUYS TURNED OUT.

Brian: From your lips to Sanderson's ears. I wonder how many Michigan fans think his first name is "Camp."

BiSB: Obviously it's his middle name.

Seth: ol' Camp.

BiSB: Jon C. Sanderson.


DeJulius is amped. [Patrick Barron]

Brian: Anyway: David DeJulius didn't have the game Castleton did but did have one pretty badass drive to the basket, and his defense has been very good so far.

BiSB: Freshman Beilein Point Guard. Ask Again Later.

Ace: 8. I’d like to see a few more of these shots go down but sample size is obviously low and you’ve got to think he’s hitting pretty well in practice given his evident confidence (and his recruiting profile). The and-one against Nebraska was reminiscent of Derrick Walton’s couple and-one drives against MSU in his freshman year. He’s playing really hard, and while that seems like a given, a lot of young guys look like they’re slacking because they spend too much time thinking—I really like DDJ’s decisiveness. He could still turn out to be the key to the postseason if his shot starts falling.

Seth: I'm trying to remember a freshman who came in more amped.

Alex: His on-ball defense.

Brian: Have there been breakdowns off the ball of note?

Alex: He's had a few blown switches (none last night against Nebraska's bum-ass offense) and I'm inclined to blame him for those. And as far as reading the tea leaves goes, the main reason he hasn't been out there has to be defense, right? Especially as Eli Brooks increasingly looks like a trillionaire out there.

BiSB: I'm inclined to think his shot will settle in once he gets more minutes. (See also: Nunez, Adrien)

Brian: The late-clock incident where he launched a super-contested three after several moments of indecision is another thing that may have kept him off the floor.

Seth: I thought there was a defensive breakdown at first when he had his first extended play against Maryland, but on closer inspection it was more the other guys getting out of their assignments for fear he didn't have his. "Cover for the kid" is going to a be a thing for all of these guys until it isn't, which is too many minutes away to be this year.

Alex: He's a bold dude. And I think he'll be able to get buckets. Like Castleton, I'm excited about the prospect of DDJ getting consistent backup minutes behind a first-team all-conference caliber player next season before earning a starting role as a junior.

Teske also pointed him in the right direction on a first half defensive possession last night.

Brian: This is feelingsball but he's got an It. His handle is tight and he looks like a guy who is a worthy heir for Michigan's increasingly nasty point guard legacy.

Seth: The thing about DDJ right now is--and I know we've been loathe to say it out loud--but Michigan's other backup guard is pretty well cooked.

Alex: Embrace the feelingsball.

Brian: The door started closing there when Brooks started passing up open threes.

Alex: We have a lot of data on a lot of things but sometimes feelingsball takes help paint a better picture.

Brian: It's hard to imagine an effective version of him that doesn't instinctively let that fly because he's a 40% shooter from deep.

Seth: It existed for maybe two weeks last fall.

BiSB: Multi-level feelingsball: it appears DDJ is absorbing the Big Mood Tao of Zavier Simpson. Brooks has not.

Alex: Eli's confidence seems to have withered and died. I'll still stick up for him as a quality defender, but Michigan needs more offense.

That's right, Bryan. X has to be hazing him every day, right? If you're going up against that guy all the time in practice, you're either gonna quit or become a badass.

Brian: We speculated in some earlier TWOs that it must have been a special kind of hell being a first year Beilein PG opposite Zavier Freakin' Simpson, and DDJ directly confirmed that a couple weeks ago.

“Zavier Simpson is the best thing that ever happened for my game,” “He’s arguably the best defender in the country. Just going against him, it was an adjustment. Going from high school basketball until now, being able to have to score on one of the best defenders in the country, for sure, it was an adjustment. But now, it’s a different battle than when I first got here, for sure.

BiSB: "I’m gonna continue to go at Zavier’s neck, he’s gonna continue to go at my neck"

Seth: I know I made everyone Stick to March™ a minute ago here but having a couple of years to break in a new point guard is a delightful new program luxury. Going back to the beginning of Beilein it's been Rich Rod's slot receiver, first-year Morris, first-year Burke, first-year Walton, second-year Simpson.

Alex: X and Charles have completely changed this program.

BiSB: Praise be unto Maverick Morgan.


Johns has been fine as long as centers are 6'6". [Marc-Grégor Campredon]

Brian: Yeah it's quite a change from the beginning of last year when Michigan brought in a grad transfer because nobody knew who the PG was. Anyway: Brandon Johns has fallen a bit by the wayside, and he'll have a lot of competition next year for the backup 3/4 spot. Prognosis?

Alex: He's a project. That he was right near the top -- if not at the very top -- of Michigan and MSU's boards for that class tells me that he'll be okay. This season has been pretty rough though.

Seth: I think we should read more into he was the second freshman on this team that Beilein was willing to put out there than what happened when he was playing not his position against non-Indiana centers.

Alex: I think that reflects more on the others.

Ace: 8.5. I’m not going to ding Johns for looking lost at a position he’s not going to play. As mentioned, this is a DJ Wilson year, and if anything what we saw this season may end up being misleading—much like trying to read into Wilson’s first couple years on campus. Johns should round into form faster since he’s ahead of his lanky predecessor on the physical development curve. He won’t be pressed into too big a role too quickly because of the presence of Teske, Livers, and Castleton (and hopefully Iggy). Meanwhile, he’s got some Iggy-like straight-line driving potential while containing the general skill-set of a larger GRIII. I’m a little gun-shy on predicting second-year breakouts now but I think he’ll be a major player within the next couple years.

Brian: It made some level of sense to start him at 5 since Michigan had a clear backup at the 3/4 in Livers but he would have been better off if Michigan hadn't spent a bunch of time putting him at a spot he's only situationally suited for. So now at the 4 he's got entirely different roles on offense and defense and is way behind the rest of the class.

BiSB: I don't know if there's any way he could have gotten comfortable given his minutes and his role(s)

Brian: He's a shooter and an athlete so worst case scenario he's GRIII-ish. (IE: a fourth banana type who sits in the corner and hits a reasonable number of threes and gets you some OREBs. GRIII is obviously close to the top end of that genre of player.)

Alex: They started switching all ball screens with him guarding the screener, which is telling. That they had to abandon their normal defensive principles to accommodate him out there... I think it just wasn't a natural fit at all and the defensive awareness of freshman bigs is usually pretty poor anyways.

Brian: Yeah, he gets an incomplete. Due to Circumstances. If he is consistently matched up against guys like Juwan Morgan instead of 6'11" guys he'll do well.

Seth: How many times have we seen a Beilen guy progress over the course of a season. He's behind now, but there's lots to work with, an offseason to focus on a role, and what--Jalen Wilson to compete with for it next year?

Alex: I think they'll have Wilson at the three and Johns at the four. Center also has to be much harder to pick up than Wing for Michigan's system. Gotta make a lot of reads quickly and consecutively. Teske had that "tape delay" Beilein always talks about when he was backing up Donnal as a freshman -- and look at him now! Savvy and really essential to Michigan's offense.


Three-star shooters gotta shoot [Campredon]

Brian: Finally: Adrian Nunez has barely seen the floor. But the implications of that are a little worrying.

Ace: 4. Yes, there was an opportunity to play, but we knew Nunez had a pretty limited freshman outlooking coming into the season—designated gunner—and I’m guessing it’s hard to see the court in that role if you’re a significant minus on defense. It’s hard to blame Nunez for probably being a significant minus on defense; while he’s long, he’s in great need of Camp Sanderson himself. The ceiling on Nunez is likely much lower than the other three given his age (took a prep year) and scouting profile; at the same time, given how far he had to go, I don’t think it’s fair to ding him for not getting on the floor for a title contender, and that shooting form is still very pure.

BiSB: Shooters gotta shoot. He got 11 shots up all season.

Seth: Right, that. Extremely Ibi "way too early to give up on that guy."

Alex: Johns has struggled in his minutes but he was a top recruit. Nunez, on the other hand... And when he hasn't played beyond garbage time, that's all we have to go off of for now.

BiSB: Against Nebraska, all of his shots were way long. If he gets 10 minutes a game, he's not going to be operating on pure adrenaline.

Brian: It's a lot less demanding to be the guy who shoots open threes off the bench, and Michigan really could use that guy this year.

Alex: Two Top 100 guys coming in at his position next season. We'll have two dutch guys who moved away from West Michigan as kids on the roster next season. My heart will be so happy.

BiSB: But that form is so good, and that release is so quick.

Brian: Defense probably is an issue but if he's not an upgrade on Brooks offensively enough to offset those issues I have concerns. I mean you're right it looks pure.

Seth: Bajema probably isn't playing much next year. He's the composite #122 by the way, and his weight isn't much greater.

Brian: That composite is largely because ESPN is busy ESPNing him.

Alex: Bajema is Caris. Not reading replies to this.

Brian: 78 rating, 3-star, ranked behind guys going to Pepperdine, James Madison, St Louis.

BiSB: So, 2019-20 is "eat all the sandwiches?" He's behind several Wake Forest wide receivers, too. And the offensive lineman who didn't exist.



March 2nd, 2019 at 9:10 AM ^

Is John's playing out of position just to get him some playing time? If not, seems silly..because you don't want this kid pissed, being the guy we stole from EL.  Playing recruits out of position seems to occur too much here.  

Shop Smart Sho…

March 2nd, 2019 at 9:18 AM ^

This is a surprise.

Are Saturday posts going to be a thing now? Because that would be pretty awesome.

As for the post, I don't see it with Nunez. I know his shot looked pretty in high school. To me, it doesn't look at all the same this year.


March 2nd, 2019 at 9:55 AM ^

The roundtables happen when they happen--they're conversations in our slack chat that reach a point of "this is a TWO." This one occurred on a Friday night and since there's a game tomorrow I figured its value would be best if published today.

The Maryland preview will probably post today too.


March 2nd, 2019 at 10:15 AM ^

Thanks for the coffee time extra. In time all 4 area going to be just fine. 

Looking forward to a March bench boost at any level, and setting the rotation for more in 2019/2020


March 2nd, 2019 at 11:02 AM ^

Generally agree with a lot of the things said here.  A couple of takes...

  • Castleton - I am trying not to get too optimistic, but it was nice to see what a true backup to Teske does to the rotation and continuity.
  • John's - I still think he has a bright future, but it will be interesting to see how he does at the 4. Michigan has rarely had a true big/physical 4 since most of the guys were 3/4 hybrids.  Will he have the quickness to guard wings? Does he have the handle and shot? DJ Wilson career arc for sure.
  • DDJ - really excited to see his growth.  Again, the ability to rest Z or Poole for a few minutes without affecting the
  • Nunez - Total wildcard. Maybe he's Watson or maybe he turns into a viable 7th man Gunner. If Poole leaves for the NBA (doubtful) we may have to find out.  I thought his shot looked odd the other night.


March 2nd, 2019 at 11:10 AM ^

Ace: One of the main reasons Michigan was so ineffective with Austin Davis on the floor is that his teammates clearly didn’t trust him to catch entry passes of any sort;

I take great exception to this comment. Austin Davis has great hands. It is his greatest strength. If teammates were reluctant to pass him the ball, it was more likely because they thought he would travel or otherwise not do anything productive with it. Catching the ball is not his problem.

I loved this freshman class review.


March 2nd, 2019 at 11:34 AM ^

Next saturdays discussion will be Michigans top shooters with no mention of Glen Rice. 


All kidding aside great discussion. Why do i feel like Johns and the 3 position go together even less than him at center. The comparisons to a thicker Dj Wilson seem good. Can he hit 3s at a decent rate?

Reggie Dunlop

March 2nd, 2019 at 12:05 PM ^


These are some heroic Castleton takes after 9 minutes against the most disinterested corpse of a team we've seen all year. 

Remember 6 weeks ago when Johns scored 8 points against Indiana and we built him a statue? Slow down people. Good game. Let's see how Castleton looks after Bruno Fernando literally eats him on Sunday before awarding him the Naismith.


March 2nd, 2019 at 1:28 PM ^

I like the comparison to Wilson.  Castleton seems to have more upside on the offensive side of the floor than Wilson does.   It’s going to be fun watching him develop. 

This team will  likely be even better next year!


March 2nd, 2019 at 4:42 PM ^

Wilson was really damn good on offense. He could shoot well from anywhere. So if Castleton is anywhere near there I’d be pleased. The reports on Castleton out of high school were that he has Moe Wagner like skills, including the ability to drive to the hoop. If he’s being compared to those two he’ll be fine. 


March 2nd, 2019 at 6:18 PM ^

 Camp Sanderson in full swing this off-season.

Castleton should be a legit contributor by B1G play next season, and hopefully a lengthy beast two years down the road.