17 BBall Commit Isaiah Livers - Offensive Scouting Report/Film

Submitted by matt D on March 27th, 2017 at 4:25 PM

[Ed-Ace: As we begin to look to the next year of Michigan basketball, this is very much worth a front-page bump.]

Livers is an impressive passer from the top of the key. [Bryan Fuller]

As we look toward the future of basketball with the departures of Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, I figured now would be a good time to examine one of our 17 incoming recruits in Isaiah Livers in the context of scouting/analysis as opposed to highlights.

This is similar to what I provide for college coaches in terms of depth, but perhaps not volume (this is a 2 game sample size from state playoffs, would likely provide coaches 4).

I broke this 4:23 clip into 4 segments:

a) Shooting - beginning to 1:14 mark

b) Ballhandling/Passing/Creating in Half Court - 1:15 to 2:58 mark

c) Post Offense - 2:59 to 3:50 mark

d) Transition Offense - 3:51 to end


3 point shooting numbers

Raw Numbers: 5/10 for 50%

Off the Catch: 2/5 for 40%

Off the Dribble: 3/3 for 100%

Off the Handoff Going Right: 0/1

Off the Jabstep/Isolation: 0/1

Midrange shooting numbers

Raw Numbers: 2/3 for 67%

Off the Dribble: 2/3 for 67%


Mechanics - True jumpshot with good elevation. Good mechanics on shot overall, but displays a slight kick in his legs at times that makes taking a balanced shot difficult.  Good upper body mechanics, but release point is a bit late, causing shot to lack enough arch at times.

Off the catch - good shooter off the catch, difficult to block his shot based on elevation in conjunction with height/length. Will usually take a quality shot off the catch with a good chance of connecting

Off the Dribble - excellent shooter off the dribble going left. His ability to hit a stepback jumpshot off 1-2 dribbles from either midrange or 3 rates among the very best in the country for prospects of his size. Not as fluid as a shooter going right (common to many right hand prospects).



Average to above average ballhandler for a prospect of his size. His dribble is hard enough to control the ball without threat of losing it when he has space to operate. 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 accelertaion and change of direction ballhandling. Prefers to go left with much more volume because that is where he is comfortable getting off his shots. Can get off his own shot going left off 1-2 dribbles. Not a real turnover risk when handling because he generally kicks the ball out when defender cuts him off or helpside cuts off drive after 2 dribbles. Not a high volume isolation/pick and roll prospect off the dribble at this point in his development in half court settings.


Very good passer from the top of the key and the free throw line area when he has space to operate and see the floor for a prospect of his size. Does a great job of leading teammates to open areas and gaps where they are in position to score. Better passer from stagnant position as opposed to off the dribble because his head is up and he can see over the top of the defense based on his size/height. Off the dribble, he is almost strictly a kick-out type prospect as opposed to a creator that will find bigs for easy dumpoffs once the helpside defense commits. Doesn't see the floor as well off the dribble. Would likely thrive as a passer at the FT line area against a 2-3 zone.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the offensive scouting report and a link to its defensive counterpart.]


Post game not really developed or fluid at this point. Does not effectively use pivot foot to create separation for clean looks. Slow movements in post area, fails to make aggressive moves in a straight line toward the middle or quick baseline spins moves that should be relatively easy for a prospect of his size and athletic ability. Fails to use size and strengh advantage to his benefit at the high school level. Consistently takes fadeaway jumpers/hooks after taking 2 dribbles to get closer to the basket. Does not embrace contact in paint area when receiving post entry passes. Tendency is to take 2 dribbles to get himself within 8-10 feet of the basket and then settle for fadeaway jumper or hook.


Runs the floor extremely well for a prospect of his size. Really fluid as a ballhandler in transition and consistently looks to get the ball in the middle of the floor to open up finishing lanes for teammates. As a transition ballhandler, he's much better as a passer than a fnisher. He finds the middle of the floor and generally finds teammates for good looks once the defense commits to cutting off the middle. He's a good finisher as the trailer in transition and displays the ability to finish with either hand with good elevation and body control. Great ability to be a rebound and go type at the next level with his combination of athleticism, size, ballhandling and passing.



Above average to good verticality. More fluid jumper off 1 leg but still gets good elevation off 2 legs.

Lateral Agility

Average to above average lateral agility for a prospect of his size. Displays ability to stay with guards/wings for 2 dribbles and will beat larger wings to the spot on defense at times. Ability to be above average perimeter defender with continued strength/conditioning and development at college level.


Average strength, not weak by any means, but doesn't necessarily use his strength advantage to his benefit at the high school level. Does not embrace contact in tight spaces at this point. Will need to develop more aggressive mentality in that regard

Straight Line Speed

Above average speed for a prospect of his size. Not a blazer, but can transition from defense to offense in hurry on a functional basis, either with, or without the ball.


Good athlete in space, but doesn't display quick-twitch athleticism in tight spaces when being defended. Generally needs space/running start to utilize athletic abilities


Likely Position in College

A small power forward that can stretch the defense with his shot and take advantage of bigger defenders on the perimeter off the dribble, at least early in his college careeer. After a few years of development, he has the potential to be more of a true small forward based on his lateral movement, athletic abilities, and ballhandling/passing skills. There are definitely some tools present in terms of being a playmaker in the half-court, but will need a bit of development to get to the desired level.


Definitely a very good shooter first and foremost. Will likely thrive in pick and pop action where he can catch and shoot from distance. Can also thrive in isolation situations occasionally against bigger defenders where he can utilize the midrange stepback off the dribble to get clean looks. Passing from the top of the key is a tremendous asset - has really good vision and leads teammates to open areas for clean looks. Good handler in transition that will find the middle of the floor and get the ball to teammates for easy layups. Above average/good athlete now with potential to be very good athlete with proper strength and conditioning development.

Areas for Development

Needs to develop ballhandling while keeping the head up and develop change of direction dribbles in order to become more of an on-ball playmaker. This will help him see the floor better to create easy looks not only for himself, but more importanly teammates. Will also help him get all the way to the rim off closeouts or when bigger defenders are checking him. Need to adjust release point slightly so that arch is consistent. Need to develop pivot/footwork in order to become post option in the paint. Need to embrace physicality and and contact rather than settling.

For Matt's analysis of Livers' defense, click here.



March 25th, 2017 at 12:46 PM ^

Thanks - as always - for posting this.

I'm excited to see what the team can do next year. It seems like they'll go as far as Simpson and Brooks can take them, because the front court should be excellent.

matt D

March 25th, 2017 at 5:24 PM ^

I liked the pickup at the time, and I still like the addition of Livers now. Although, I can see where your impression of my analysis is justified as well.

Livers is an uprgrade in our recruiting profile from an athletic standpoint, and provides the shooting prowess that Coach Beilien loves. Over the years, we've generally had shooters with little to no athleticism on the wing ala Duncan Robinson, Matt Vogrich, Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, Blake McLimans, Mark Donnal, etc.

That distinction between athletic shooter and non-athletic shooter is HUGE in my opinion, because a prospect of that nature has a chance to be an above average TWO WAY player as opposed to a 'just a shooter' type.

On top of it all, Livers has some tools in terms of passing and ballhandling that can be developed. Perhaps it will take a few years, but there's definitely some attributes to work with.

Other than top 20-40 types, most players take at least a year to develop into major contributors. The more athletic and skilled a player is coming in, the less development is needed. Much like Mo and DJ, it may take Livers a few years to reach his potential, but with DJ around for another year at least (hopefully anyway), the staff can afford that developmental time. Although I readily admit that ideally you'd like him ready to be at least a solid contributor as a sophomore.

To sum things up - is Livers likely to be the #1 option for Michigan at any point in his career? No. Will he be an All American at any point in his career? Probably not. Is it possible for him to be an upper-tier B10 player in the running for all conference honors - I think that's possible with some development.

I think the best case scenario is a smaller version of Tobias Harris. A fully maxed out Isaiah Livers has that sort of potential.


Blue boy johnson

March 25th, 2017 at 5:41 PM ^

"Over the years, we've generally had shooters with little to no athleticism on the wing ala Duncan Robinson, Matt Vogrich, Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, Blake McLimans, Mark Donnal, etc."

Vogrich, Douglass, Donnal, and McLimans are not and were not wings.

As for Livers, he's a great fit. Probably the best fit for the 4 position Beilein has landed since he's been at M. Although, I must say, Wilson might be the best fit, but it took 3 years to materialize.

Blue boy johnson

March 25th, 2017 at 6:06 PM ^

"Over the years, we've generally had shooters with little to no athleticism on the wing"

I apologize, I construed this to imply you were talking about wings. You followed this up with mentioning Vogrich, Douglass, Donnal, McLimans amongst others

matt D

March 25th, 2017 at 6:10 PM ^

poorly conveyed on my behalf in retrospect. You are absolutely correct, I should've made the more general statement about shooters as I meant too.

To be fair though, there really is no funcational difference between a guy like McLimans/Donnal and Vogrich in the context of a Michigan offense. All 3 simply spot up and wait for the ball to be delivered. The only subtle difference is the bigs set a screen to free up the passer.

Clarence Boddicker

March 25th, 2017 at 2:20 PM ^

With the 2nd half run, I think we all think very highly again of Beilein's ability to spot and develop talent, and to level up players far above their recruit rankings. I'm looking forward to Livers' development--he's got a great skillset to work with.


March 25th, 2017 at 3:00 PM ^

isn't 17 recruits coming in alot for bball? I kneww what you meant just sounded like we have 17 new players coming in. Good write up can you do Brooks and Poole next?

matt D

March 25th, 2017 at 5:10 PM ^

live so I'm not in a position to truly evaluate him in great detail. Based on the limited highlights I've seen though, I'm not a huge fan of his game.

I've seen Poole play live extensively during EYBL last summer, but my film is deleted from that time period, so I won't be able to provide a scouting report/film.

matt D

March 25th, 2017 at 5:08 PM ^

He's an inch or two shorter than Xavier Tillman who is 6'7-6'8, and at least an inch shorter than Brandon Johns (a legit 6'8),  that was very clear to me.

Early in his career, I think we'll see Livers at the 4 mostly. In part based on Michigan's offense, and in part based on his skillset and areas that need to be developed.

Later in his career I think he has the potential to be more of an on-ball playmaker at the 3, but it's going to take some development.............much like DJ.

matt D

March 25th, 2017 at 5:06 PM ^

if we're restricting the conversation to either current, or former, M players. Zak had more creating ability in the halfcourt in terms of ballhandling and passing. Livers is certainly a better athlete, but can't get to the rim yet because his head is often down when dribbling so he doesn't see the floor.

Functionally, DJ is mostly a catch and shoot guy that displays good vision from the top of the key. He did show a bit of ability to create his own offense off the dribble this year, but much like Livers, he often settled for fadeaway jumpshots and definitely does not embrace contact in the paint. DJ had more size/length, but I think Livers has more fluidity and lateral movement.


March 25th, 2017 at 3:27 PM ^


What are your thoughts on Charles Matthews?  Did some reading and watching of him the past week - very difficult to watch much because a lot of his extended play was vs bad teams but he looks a lot like the exact opposite of a typical Beilein recruit, sort of a GR3 without the same outside shot. 

I wonder if a year away from the spotlight will get his mechanics better or if he is destined to be a slasher - which again is ok as we ask for one of those all the time to offset our outside shooters.  Does he have enough handle to get to the rim vs quality Big 10 teams or is it going to be limited to the bottom half of the conference + non conf weaklings?  He has very nice hops once he gets there.

matt D

March 25th, 2017 at 5:02 PM ^

in preparation for Iowa right around New Years day, as I took Steve Pearson (2020 guard) on a visit.

That was my first, and only time, viewing Matthews live, so my opinion isn't necessarily what I would label as being informed.

Matthews was playing the Peter Jok role against the first team defense, and that compelled Charles to be the primary ballhandler. CM had good enough athletic ability and ballhandling skills to create his own shot out of pick and rolls sets. He knocked down a few midrange shots and scored at the rim a few times as well. However, there was no creating for teammates ala Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas, Caris Levert and recently Derrick Walton. Based on my limited live evaluation, I'd say CM has a decent shot at being a farily efficient creator of his own offense, but certainly not one to create for others. Caveats apply though because our defense downright awful during that period.

Overall, I think you're looking at a guy that can replace Zak Irvin's production from a 2 way standpoint. I don't think he's going to be a knockdown shooter from distance, but will certainly be an upgrade in terms of finishing at the rim both as a baseline finisher (GR3) and as a ballhandler. I think Charles is best suited as being a 2nd or 3rd option on a good team. Don't think he has the skillset to be the primary option on offense at this point.


March 25th, 2017 at 8:36 PM ^

Thanks, having a guy do ZI production instantly is a win for the program even if Irvin gives us some headaches from time to time.  Not buying any hype here from practice reports (been there done that with Donnal) so not looking for a take over the team guy, but if he is a legit Big 10 starter who gives you 28-32 minutes a night and 11-13 ppg that would be massive.  He looks more athletic than Irvin post surgery at least. 


March 27th, 2017 at 7:45 PM ^

Really great, detailed content. It's interesting to see into a basketball mindframe. You've raised the bar for Ace/Brian's Hello and annual recruting recap posts.