First and most importantly, Trey Burke is inquiring about his NBA Draft status, according to the Free Press. Here's a link with a sensational headline: "Trey Burke Strongly Considering Leaving Michigan for NBA Draft" and a start to the article with the one-sentence paragraph "Michigan basketball's worst fear might be coming to fruition." If that's not trolling for pageviews, I don't know what is. The information's out there, and it looks like Burke is considering a jump to the NBA. Like Morris, I'm not sure if this is the best move right now, but I definitely can understand the reasoning behind leaving. It's not like Burke is going to get much taller by sticking around in college -- his size is considered his biggest weakness in terms of NBA potential -- and he might be drafted more on potential if he leaves now as opposed to later. Still, it seems like Burke is just testing the waters and seeing what would happen if he did decide to leave. I'm not as adamant as other people in thinking that he won't leave -- I definitely think he could, but this is pretty standard operating procedure for good players. I'm still guessing that Burke is more likely to be on campus next year than not. If Burke leaves, Michigan's in big, big trouble, as he's pretty much the only guy outside of Eso Akunne that can run the point on the team next year. Let's hope he doesn't.
University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Wednesday, March 21) that sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz (Reading, Mass./New Hampton Prep [N.H.]), sophomore forward Colton Christian (Bellevue, Wash./Hargrave Military Academy) and freshman guard Carlton Brundidge (Southfield, Mich./Southfield HS) each decided to leave the Wolverine basketball program and transfer to another school.
Losing Christian and Brundidge isn't a big blow -- Christian was brought in as a project and never was able to see many meaningful minutes in his two years, and Brundidge didn't see any time at guard during his freshman year even though there were ample opportunities (I think that the coaches were more comfortable with Akunne running the point speaks to how far they thought Brundidge was in his development). Any attrition like this is unfortunate, but it didn't look like Christian would be much of a contributor here at Michigan and he might be happier if he gets of playing time elsewhere. As for Brundidge, he was a bit younger and seemed to have more potential, but he was curious fit and didn't seem like he was going to be playing in the near future.
The loss of Evan Smotrycz is a bit more perplexing. The sophomore forward has played valuable minutes for his entire career, and he's been a good fit in the offense that John Beilein runs. With the departure of Zack Novak -- who was Smotrycz's primary competition at the four -- it looked like Evan was in line for more minutes next year. I don't know why Smotrycz is transferring, and speculating seems pointless and unfair. Regardless of the reason, Smotrycz decided that it was best for him to leave and that he'll continue the rest of his college career somewhere else.
Losing Smotrycz is much more significant than losing Christian or Brundidge. Smotrycz figured to be the starter at the four, and at the very least, looked to be a part of the rotation with Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary at the four and five. He was the only big on Michigan's roster outside of Blake McLimans (who doesn't play much) with the ability to step out and hit the three, and he probably had the best game of any player on the team against Ohio. Smotrycz had his fair share of struggles here at Michigan and wasn't very consistent during his career, but he's still a talented player regardless and Michigan would probably rather have him on the team.
With these departures, this is what Michigan's roster looks like for next year.
|Eso Akunne -- SR*||Matt Vogrich -- SR||Blake McLimans -- SR|
|Trey Burke -- SO||Tim Hardaway Jr. -- JR||Jordan Morgan -- Rs. JR|
|Nik Stauskas -- FR||Glenn Robinson III -- FR||Jon Horford -- Rs. SO|
|Max Bielfeldt -- Rs. FR|
|Mitch McGary -- FR|
*Akunne is a walk-on who will see minutes next year.
There was a scholarship crunch in 2013-2014, but now there's room to take a recruit this year or next year and have a big class in 2014. Of course, any extra attrition would increase those numbers, but I don't even want to think about that right now with three transfers and one player looking to enter the NBA Draft early. I think that regardless of if Trey stays or goes, Amedeo Della Valle will be a big target to add to next year's class, because, as of right now, we have one player that can handle the ball -- and it's Burke.
This is a pretty bad day for Michigan basketball, but I still have enough trust in the coaching staff to think that this will all work itself out. The sky isn't falling, and Michigan's still in good shape for next year unless Burke leaves. I wish Brundidge, Christian, and Smotrycz well, and hope that they find what they're looking for down the road.