Michigan Basketball: Domination until further notice. (2015/2016 outlook)

Submitted by MichiganMan14 on March 11th, 2014 at 4:24 AM

Michigan Basketball is in a place few of us could imagine about 4 or 5 years ago.  What John Belein has done with our program is nothing short of extraordinary.  It's an absolute great time to be a Michigan Basketball Fan....but could it get even better?  The following are a few scenarios that could play out in the coming seasons roster wise. 

*Disclaimer:  I have posted absent-mindedly before and hope that this does not serve as a broken record or re-post.  I apologize if these projections have been previoulsy posted as I have not seen them.  Go Blue!

Worst Scenario for 2014/2015: We lose Nik, Glen and Mitch to the NBA Draft.  Brief periods of grief will be practiced and the B1G will once again lick their chops....until Belein works his magic again with more underclassmen than you can throw Pre-reqs at.

Walton (so) -  Spike (Jr)

Levert (Jr.)-  Chatman (Fr)

Irvin (So) -   Wilson (Fr)

Donnal (Fr)-  Beifeldt (Jr)

Horford (Sr)-  Doyle (fr)


Likelyhood= not very.  Losing all 3 of these guys is not probable due to Glen and Mitch's draft stock being so low.  It would be a sizeable risk for both to leave and there is much for both to improve upon.  Way too many questions about Mitch at this point.  This roster would be very green particularly on the bench with unproven Bigs outside of Horford.  Wilson and Chatman would have to play big roles year one.  Transfers could be needed to fill gaps.

  B1G Projection = 11-7 possibly 12-6.  Sweet 16 would be a likely ceiling. 


Best Scenario for 2014/2015:  Everyone stays and we form VOLTRON.  Izzo would likely spend all summer crafting excuses as to why we would eviscerate the Spartans twice in the up-coming season.  America does not want to see this.  Please every shave their heads and wear long black socks...just once. Thank you.

Walton (so) - Spike (jr)

Stauskas (jr) - Irvin (so)

Levert (jr)- Chatman (fr)

GR3 (jr)- Donnal (fr)

McGary (jr)- Horford (Sr)


Likelyhood= Not very.  Stauskas is a consistent top 20 pick who is trending in the mid teens.  He has shown solid strides in his offensive weaknesses and is truly one of the most special offensive players in the country.  Shoots nearly 50% from the field and has a lofty ceiling.  He could come back and work on his defense and become more explosive but I don't know if we will be that lucky.  GR3 needs another year to realize his potential and Mitch needs it to re-establish his stock. 

* Sprinkle some Beifeldt and give Doyle and Wilson reshirts.  This would be the best team on paper in recent Michigan History and quite possibly a National Champion.  Preseason #1.

B1G Projection = 16-2  Final Four and possible/likely National Title Team.



Most Likely Scenario:  Stauskas makes the jump and GR3 and Mitch Stick around for their Junior Seasons. 

Walton (so) - Spike (jr)

Levert (jr)- Chatman (fr)

Irvin (so) - Chatman (fr)/ Wilson (fr)

GR3 (jr) - Donnal (fr) / Beifeldt (jr)

McGary (jr)- Horford (Sr) / Doyle (fr)

* This would likely leave Doyle reshirting barring injuries.  We would be short a wing in the rotation and be forced to play Wilson year one.  He needs the training table badly for this to be a reality.

Likelyhood= Pretty high.  I think that Stauskas will have a great shot at being a top 20 selection despite his lack of defense and uber athleticism.  He is simply a great basketball player.  I think that Belein will help GR3 see the benefit of one more year and a chance at being "The Man" offensively.  (Caris may disagree)  I also think that McGary could be a Lottery guy in 2015 with a solid healthy season.  That is a huge difference from where he is projected right now...which many draft boards don't even list him at all.  The Junior year allows GR3 and McGary a realistic shot at graduating and leaving with a Michigan Degree which is a very underrated +.  I think McGary would be very hard pressed to make the jump and given GR3's inconsistencies and fondness of his classmate....it's makes sense for both to return for an unexpected Junior year in Ann Arbor. 

B1G Projection:  14-4  Final Four and National Title Contender. 

*This must become McGary's team.

*Also possible for Nik and Glen to leave which would slide Donnal into the starting 4 spot and take a shirt off of either Wilson or Doyle.  Don't do this to me Glen.........


Very Early 2015/2016 Roster Outlook:

Walton (jr) - Spike (Sr)/ Jalen Brunson (fr)

Levert (Sr)-  Jalen Coleman or Luke Kennard possibly 

Irvin (jr) -  Chatman (so)

Donnal (so)- Wilson (fr)

Doyle (so) - Freshman Center ?? 

* We need homeruns in recruting at the Center, 2 guard and Point Guard spots in 2015.  If we accomplish this....sky is the limit as you can see.  Chatman looks the part of a future All-B1G player.   Wilson is going to be a Belein special with added weight.  Brunson and or Coleman would both be dynamite in this system and Luke Kennard would be Stauskas 2.0.  Donnal could be a sleeper at the 4 spot and Doyle will end up being a post up Big that we have rarely had at Michigan.  The Trifecta of upper-classmen in Irvin-Walton-Levert will be the best in the B1G and maybe the country.  This looks every bit of another top 10 team in 2016 folks.  The future is radiant.  Izzo better pack a lunch.....

B1G projection 15-3  Final Four contender.  ;

* I project that Walton-Levert-Irvin will all declare after this campaign.  That will make 10 NBA players in the last 6 seasons and 8 in the last 4.  Good luck recruiting against Belein. 










March 11th, 2014 at 11:33 AM ^

I know exactly what is going to happen.

We will eventually run into some bad luck or injuries and will fail to live up to such lofty expectations.

At which point the same people who are singing such high praise will turn on Beilein and the kids, screaming about how this team has no heart, how it is all unacceptable, and how Beilein has lost his touch and call for a new coach. Hell, that was occurring this year early on with our slow start.

It is pretty obvious...


March 11th, 2014 at 5:08 AM ^

Could it get better? No, this is an awesome fun team that is a national contender. It cannot get any better than this. It will hopefully continue to be great.

And no team is a likely national champion. 1/3 chance is as good as you can get I'd say, and that's after a dominant season and heading into the tournament. Preseason, even the most elite returning roster I'd say no more than 10%.

Not trying to be a downer, just trying to keep things realistic. Ultimately, Beilein looks capable of keeping this show running. I don't think he needs 5-star studs to do it either.


March 11th, 2014 at 5:16 AM ^

Saying a team is likely National Title Team is a bit of a stretch....but that roster is absolutely stacked.  In 1993 The Fab Five was a likely Champion that fell just short in the Title Game so it's probably ill-worded on my part to boast that potential 2015 Michigan squad in that manner.  I just don't see that team losing if healthy. 


March 11th, 2014 at 5:21 AM ^

If Mitch McGary comes back this tournament, we have a good shot at a national championship. No team scares me like Louisville last year. Florida skated by against Auburn and Mississippi State. Arizona has lost to quite a few Pac 12 teams and we barely lost to them in December. Syracuse is on free fall.


March 11th, 2014 at 8:48 AM ^

He was the B1G COY per the media, but the coaches voted Miles from Nebraska as their coach of the year.  As impressive as Beilein was, I have absolutely no issue with Miles getting this piece of hardware as he absolutely deserved it.  Even as a U of M homer, I, and may others here, think the bigger injustice would've been if Miles walked away without any award.

Franz Schubert

March 11th, 2014 at 7:20 PM ^

Miles did an amazing job and he deserves tons of credit, he did not deserve that award over Beilein. The biggest reason many believe Miles should win is because he took a team predicted last in the conference to 11 wins, so they outperformed expectation by a lot. But what is missed is that once Mcgary went down everyone was expecting Michigan to be a bubble team, and finishing around 9-9 or best case 10-8 in conference. So basically Michigan outperformed expectation by 5-6 games while playing the toughest schedule in the league with one plays against PSU, NW and Illinois. Given that the worst team in conference won 5 games, Nebraska outperformed expectation by 6 games with the 11-7 mark. Nebraska also played a significantly easier schedule by only playing MSU, Wisconsin, minnesota and Iowa once. Im not losing sleep over it as Beilein is so classy I dont think he cares, but there is no way Beilein isn't the coach of the year.


March 11th, 2014 at 5:53 AM ^

but the way Coach Beilein develops talent can be our undoing! I think next year is going to be similar to how this year went; I wouldn't be surprised if both McGary and Stauskas go, and even Glenn might test the waters. Mitch is getting old and if his back is 100% over the off season he's probably going to be in the first round. Glenn has tremendous upside that he is just starting to touch; that might be enough for a team to take a chance on him.

I think Caris is going to have a next year similar to how Nic had it, that he's going to step up and be 'The Man'. I don't think he's going to be here as a senior btw, I think he'll be leaving after next year, he's simply making too much progress. Hopefully Glenn comes back, I think the light goes on for him next year and if that's the case we may have yet another special team to root for. Horford will be the 'ole man' next year to provide a steady focus While Walton will also continue to blossom. Spike will improve and provide valuable minutes, and perhaps Chatman can give us some good minutes that will have us bemoaning him being a 2 year and done guy as well.

And that's the crux of the issue; Coach B develops talent and the talent leaves! The average talent level for the team will rise - there will be more Jordan Morgans in the mix - so I'm thinking Final Four/Elite Eight appearances will be common for our Wolverines in the coming years but will we keep enough players year to year to win it all?


March 11th, 2014 at 6:23 AM ^

McGary simply doesn't have the body of work to justify a 1st round choice if not completely healthy. It would be a HUGE risk for him entering the Draft this year. The age aspect is overrated and has nothing to do with a rookie contract when you look at the big picture. It's inflated how much teams actually care about a kid being 20 or 22 because it likely effects teams that offer the 2nd contract. The NBA and their scouts like to coax all the college talent into jumping into the league because it's a business. I would hate to see another Michigan kid fall victim to leaving too early. Manny and Darius both left a year early and it has adversely effected their careers.


March 11th, 2014 at 12:00 PM ^

Your logic is not wrong, but I think you are missing the other side. If Mitch comes back and gets hurt again, not unlikely with a back injury, his NBA stock is really going to tank. On the flip side Glenn came back and saw his stock take a huge hit, both may not be willing to chance that happening again. I think both should come back as I am not sure if either is NBA material, but coming back has big downside potential for their draft status. But then there is that whole Michigan degree thing.....


March 11th, 2014 at 5:54 AM ^

I think GR3 gets more time at the 3 spot.


Also, I cringe a little at our fan base putting out the expectation  of national titles.  It's great that we've arrived, but we should win one first before expecting any.  

Also, I remember last year MSU coaches and players having press conferences after the season all but guaranteeing a national title with Payne, Harris and Appling returning.  Could still happen, I suppose.  I hope that Beilein and company never behave like Izzo and company.


Anyway, as Beilein says, "one game at a time" in this B1G league.  And then, subs.


March 11th, 2014 at 9:16 AM ^

Nobody should expect a national title when you have to play a 68 team single elimination tournament to get one.

However, I don't have a problem with expecting a contender. Especially with how the coaches have shown they can fill holes left by key players from the previous season.




March 11th, 2014 at 6:28 AM ^

Would be the loss of an assistant coach. Let's hope that doesn't happen but you have to think Jordan (and Bicari) is on plenty of AD hiring lists.

Mr. Yost

March 11th, 2014 at 6:50 AM ^

While long term it might be nice for Jordan to get some head coaching experience since it seems he's our next head coach.

His development of guys and ability to recruit and identify means so much to our program. We need him, especially now when we're facing a couple of HUGE recruiting years.

These next two years could be what keeps Michigan on top. We've got to find a way to capitalize on the recent success AND replinish what we've got.

With all due respect to Novak and Douglass, we were solid, but we didn't become GREAT until we started pulling in these highly touted kids.


March 11th, 2014 at 6:38 AM ^

Thanks for this discussion. I love looking ahead, even while enjoying another March. A few randomly ordered thoughts:

-I think Mitch could be tempted to jump due to age. Even as a second rounder, he starts his NBA clock sooner, which gets him to a potential second contract sooner. If he's healthy enough for pre-draft workouts, he could even end up as the ideal candidate for a team like the Spurs late in the first.

-I disagree that we need to hit a home run with PG in 2015. PG is a luxury until the 2016 class due to the depth on the roster. To get a true blue chip point, they will likely need to see a faster path to playing time than a potential Jr. Walton/Sr. Spike depth chart. Of course, things change. Walton could make the leap in year 2. And Michigan is still recruiting Brunson, even if (according to Sam Webb) they've slowed their recruitment of other 2015 points.

-Completely agree that we need a talented big in 2015. I hope Diamond Stone has continued to watch closely after his visit last year, because there's an opportunity for quick playing time here.

-I have to think that Nik is gone. His draft stock will likely never be higher, and I don't think we can discount the impact of seeing Glenn and Mitch come back, only to have their draft stock fall. We should enjoy every one of these last 9 games ;)

Mr. Yost

March 11th, 2014 at 6:45 AM ^

Horford is gone after next year and McGary is too if he even stays. Max B could easily do that 5th year somewhere else so he can get some playing time.

That leaves you with Donnal and Doyle.

We need a big time, even one-and-done type freshman. We need Stone, Zimmerman, Jeter or Dickerson.

We also need a guard, but it can be more of a LeVert type than someone who you're counting on as a freshman.

Mr. Yost

March 11th, 2014 at 6:40 AM ^

Now I think we lose Nik...and GRIII.

I think we lose Nik because he just desperately wants to play in the NBA. He's accomplished his individual goals here at Michigan. I think we lose GRIII simply because he's bored with college.

No facts. Just my opinion.

Before the season I thought everyone would return for a national title run. Now I think the only way that happens is if we get close and don't get it. 

I think McGary comes back even though Glenn Robinson leaves. It's not like they'd be playing on the same team in the NBA, so even though they're best friends, they don't really have to declare at the same time.

Then again, McGary's age scares me. He may leave just because he's old. But I'm going to say no. I'm going to say he stays for one more year.

If this happens, I'm guessing your starting lineup is Horford-McGary-Irvin-LeVert-Walton. Spike and Chatman become your top subs and Donnal/Bielfeldt give you minutes in the post.

Not a bad lineup, but it would be totally contingent on Irvin learning how to be a more well-rounded player rather than a chucker like he is now. My guess is that we'd play a LOT of minutes with both Spike and Walton.

Irvin starting in 2 years, fine...next year? Scares me. This is why if there is ANY way Nik could come back, it would be AWESOME. Because I think Caris is a GREAT #2, I don't think he's a #1 option though. Not next year. Again, in 2 years, absolutely.

In the end, I don't think it would hurt Nik or Glenn by returning. They both have some glaring things that they need to work on. Same way THJ worked on his game between his sophomore and junior years (and didn't lose ground in the draft).

Nik needs to continue working on his game going to his left. He could improve his ball handling so that playing PG in the NBA in spurts is an option (i.e. Grevis Vasquez, Lance Stephenson, or even Dwayne Wade). He still needs to get better defensively. Lastly, I'd like to see him develop a little post game against smaller guards. THJ REALLY improved in all of these areas his junior year and I think Stauskas could certainly do the same. Imagine if he could take a guy like Appling down in the post and hit a turnaround jumper.

Glenn's improvements are more energy/effort/toughness related, but he can still get more consistent with his shot (from 2 and from 3). He DESPERATELY needs to add a post game. Not because he's going to play PF in the NBA, but because SF's don't just stand on the outside and shoot or cut backdoor in the NBA. However, moreso than develop a game of his own, he needs to develop his post defense. Because right now there are 20 SF's that are going to see him and head straight to the block...and he won't be able to do anything. Overall consistency and post game (offensively and defensively) is where GRIII needs to work.



March 11th, 2014 at 6:54 AM ^

Can we stop this "McGary is too old nonsense already?" He is turns 22 this June and would be 23 if he comes back another year. Payne is sitting at 23 right now. How come we didn't talk about Paynes age as a big factor last year? The only way age is a big factor is if McGary comes back for 2 more years which is just not going to happen. It's a nice narrative but it really doesn't hold up.


March 11th, 2014 at 11:59 AM ^

Agreed. If he was just as good as a Soph, he would have been drafted higher. That's different than saying they didn't want to draft a guy his age.

I think this age thing is way overblown. Why does a team care if a guy is 23 instead of 20? That team will only have him for about 5 years (on average) anyway, and that's if he's not an initial bust. That takes him to 28, well within his prime.

And bigs take longer to develop. I'm sure a lot of teams would rather take a 23 year old who has had a lot of good coaching over a 20 year old who they need to pay 3 mil a year while he receives it.

Mr. Yost

March 11th, 2014 at 7:04 AM ^

NBADraft.net - which never gets anything correct has Stauskas as a high 2nd round pick.


I think we need to pump the breaks just a little. Stauskas could get his stuff back from the advisory committee and it not be what he wants. If it says late first on it...he's not going to hurt himself by returning for a year.

Personally, I see him in the #15-#25 range with the late teens being the most likely. This puts him with a team like Boston (good fit as well). But as more guys declare for the draft, the more crowded it gets at the top.

But just take a look at the lottery of their mock draft, it's going to be tough for Stauskas to crack that bad boy. They've even got Gordon at Arizona down at least #21. I'd put Nik right where I said before in that 15-25 range with the late teens being most likely.

If he stays for a shot to win a national championship and they all declare together after next year...he's not going to hurt his chances. He's still the #1 option so he should be fine. I doubt he improves on his potential positioning, but it shouldn't get worse either.


March 11th, 2014 at 7:12 AM ^

If you can't improve your draft stock, there's little reason to come back.  Stauskas has done everything he can do at the college level short of winning it all.  And winning it all in college basketball is a totall lotto ball proposition, even for the best teams.

All the tea leaves have been about it being his dream.  If that's his dream, he should go.

Same with GR3 and Mitch.  They almost went last year.  They're likely gone.  You can look at all the draft boards you want, but it comes down to what the players want and they clearly want to be in the NBA.

My money is on all three leaving.  I wish, for him and his family's sake, Mitch had went last year.  I'd bet his age is becoming a concern among NBA execs when coupled with the back issues.  You usually can't expect much growth out of 23 year olds.


March 11th, 2014 at 7:23 AM ^

He could easily play himself into a lottery selection next season. I think there is too much thought and over emphasis put on a couple of years in terms of player age. NBA execs want players that can help their ball club...not projects that take their entire rookie contract to develop...only to lose them to free agency. McGary and GR3 need to come back. Nik would do himself a favor by coming back also. He is a great talent but I think he would get exposed a bit in individual workouts especially against some of the other elite and seemingly more athletic wings coming out this year. I hate these scouts for enticing players to come out early. They simply do not have the kids' best interests at heary. Unfortunately money talks. It will be interesting to see who does what.


March 11th, 2014 at 8:46 AM ^

Ahh...excuse me? The NBA wants players to immediately help their ball clubs and not projects?

All the NBA does is draft on potential talent alone. How else do you explain  Anthony Bennett being the #1 overall pick last year, you know the guy they wanted to send to the D-League because he was so bad or for that matter the majority of top #15 selections in the past 10 years? Fuck what about Darko?

Nik-honest to god skills, showed great improvment in all areas, potential is there

McGary-showed flashes but being sidelined will hurt his draft stock unless he comes back and has another monster March/April

GR3-(IMO) strictly a potential pick 


March 11th, 2014 at 10:01 AM ^

Given the rookie salary structure in the NBA, there's not a vast difference, finanicially, from being a late lottery pick and a guy in the early 20s, roughly $1 to $1.5 million over the five year life of a contract (15% total). That difference is mitigated by the ability to get to a second contract (where the real salary escalators take effect) one year earlier.

Here's the rookie scale:


Now, it if was a matter of him pushing himself into the top 5-6 picks, then it would probably be financially worthwhile to do so (though the extra year of salary might still weigh against it) but if it's just a matter of 5 spots or so, it doesn't make sense, financially, to return. 

Also, the place that Stauskas is going to learn what skills he needs to develop to play in the NBA at this point is the NBA. He's not going to learn how to play NBA defense (laugh all you want, teams are paying a huge amount of attention to complex defensive philosophies in the post-Thibs era) at the college level. It's going to take him a year playing in the NBA at least to understand how to play NBA help defense (watch how lost THJ and Burke are defensively sometime).  He's also going to learn a lot more about how to run wing pick and rolls and occupy floor spacing positions (the two things he'll be called on to do a lot in the NBA) playing in the league than in his role in college. 

I'd love for him to come back, because he's really fun to watch for M, but financially and basketball-wise, he should probably move on.

Mr. Yost

March 11th, 2014 at 1:40 PM ^

Ask those guys that UNC that all came back to win a National Championship if they regret it. Either team (May/Felton/McCants) or (Hansbrough/Lawson/Ellington)

Ask Noah and those Florida Gators if they regret coming back to go back-to-back!

If McGary, GR3, and Stauskas come back and don't improve in the draft...it very well may be worth it to them if they win a National Championship.

You don't have to go just because your draft stock isn't going to get higher. Sometimes you just want to continue playing college basketball (like McDermott who could've left after last year), sometimes you want a shot at a college award or title, sometimes you just like college and college life.

Plenty of guys do this, mainly in football but that is because it's a bigger draft.

Lewan's stock didn't go up, should he regret his decision? What if we were actually good and won the B1G and the Rose Bowl like we set out to? 

I don't think coming back is going to help or hurt any of these 3 guys. If GR3 blows up it'll help, but that's a huge IF at this point. McGary is most likely to help his stock simply by playing a full year. But no one is going to slide drastically like they all would if they stayed TWO years.


Section 1

March 11th, 2014 at 7:07 AM ^

A bunch of guys showing up to play for a couple of years and then they are gone, to their preferred destinations.

It's somewhat surprising, that college basketball can maintain its popularity with the constant reshuffling of lineups.  Even more surprising, that anyone can get any of the great collegiate players to show up for a single class.  How many credits did Trey Burke complete?


March 11th, 2014 at 7:35 AM ^

College basketball is not like the NBA. Fans by definition root for Institutions, and then they root for players. This is not so much the case with the NBA. There is no following a player from team to team. You root for the school, and then you gain interest in the players in that program - its more of a top-down sort of fanhood, where in the NBA it is a mixture, sometimes top-down, sometimes bottom-up in which you root for a program based on its players. 


March 11th, 2014 at 9:57 AM ^

The starting center, is getting his masters in engineering.  Novak, Stu, Appling, Payne, are all 4 year players.  There are 30 1st round draft picks every year for the NBA. With some of those going to seniors, there are only a handful of players each year that can leave early.  The fact that Michigan has had a few over the last few years and has some more expected is not a failure of Michigan's education nor for the sport of college basketball.  The fact that players are talented enough to go make a fortune doing something they love is great.   


March 11th, 2014 at 12:08 PM ^

That's really not how it goes. You have about 30 players, total, among all NCAA teams, leaving early for the NBA. About 5 per conference, and some of them were there for 3 years, like THJr. That's not exactly a ton of turnover.

Sure, Michigan has had a lot of these guys lately, if you count the guys currently on the roster. But even very good programs like MSU and OSU haven't had much of this for a while.