Michigan's roster of returning players is thin after five rotational players from last year left the team. The backcourt was the least affected section of the roster, with Michigan bringing back both its point guards as well as Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin on the wings. However, this leaves Michigan without any options behind this year's starters at the two and three spots.
Enter, Michigan's late additions to the 2014 class.
With Stauskas blowing up into an NBA lottery pick, Michigan's recruiting, which had focused more on the four and five spots early, reeling in Ricky Doyle, DJ Wilson, and Kam Chatman as well as case-study in mental fortitude and perseverance Austin Hatch (who, not being a likely rotation player will not be covered here, but is worth reading about). But the class's needs changed, and the staff set out to fill out the roster.
The first addition was Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, a six-foot-four shooting guard out of western Pennsylvania. MAAR's only other serious suitor when Michigan came calling was Rice. This is despite the Allentown native being a prolific high school scorer, slashing his way to 2136 career points and being a four-time all-state selection. MAAR is a versatile combo guard, the likes of which John Beilein hasn't recruited since Carlton Brudidge in 2011.
Ten days later the Wolverines picked up the final commitment of the class from Aubrey Dawkins, a six-foot-five wing out of a New Hampshire prep school. Dawkins, son of former Duke Blue Devil and current Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins, was a middling 2-3 star recruit that chose Michigan over Dayton.
MAAR, as I said, is a slasher and scorer, but more importantly, he is the kind of guard that can thrive in isolation sets and can get to the rim and draw fouls. Michigan has had one of the lowest FT Rates in the nation as a team over the last few years despite fielding incredibly efficient offenses. MAAR isn't much of a shooter — the type of complimentary player that normally fits well in Michigan's offense — but he should be useful as a bench player that can come in the game and shoulder some of the offensive load. He has the requisite size and if his athleticism is enough to allow his game to function at the next level, Michigan may have landed itself a spark plug off the bench. On top of that, MAAR is already 20-years old, something that John Beilein has confirmed he looks for in some players, as it means they can contribute earlier.
The biggest knock on MAAR is his shooting. He doesn't have the clean release of a natural shooter, and in this offense, the lack of even an average outside shot could hold him back.
Dawkins fills a much different role, and one that Michigan fans are already familiar with. He is a high flying wing that is more comfortable playing off the ball. He has a good outside shot and will fit comfortably into the three-spot for Michigan where he can play on the wing off the ball and rely on cuts and spot up jump shooting. His main weakness is mostly the limited nature of his game at this point, although in Michigan's offense he is at least set up with the tools to be an effective player, and a year in prep school should also help him step in early and contribute.
Summer In Italy
Both players played this summer in Michigan's tour of Italy, and we got a good look at how each will fit into Michigan's offense.
MAAR averaged 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game, and do so by getting to the rim and to the free throw line. He shot 25 free throws in four games and had a FT Rate of 109%. He also hit just 20% of his three-point attempts and just 64% of his free throws. The Italy trip was a good showcase for the ability that MAAR brings. He drove time and time again, getting free throw opportunities and passes to his teammates. MAAR is a "make something happen" type bench player.
Dawkins was right behind with an average of 9 points, 3 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per game. He did this by hitting 62% of his three-point attempts and sporting a very low 22 in FTA/FGA. He filled his role on the team nicely, providing efficient shooting from outside and inside on limited attempts. Dawkins made the most of it when he got the ball, and this is the kind of play Michigan needs from its backup at the three.
Assuming the health and productivity of Michigan's starters at the two and three spot, John Beilein shouldn't have to overly rely on either of these two players. Dawkins will likely be depended on a little more since his positional flexibility will have him backing up either Zak Irvin or Kam Chatman. Michigan also has the opportunity to use two point guards, which could cut into MAAR's time (although MAAR has the skills to play a little PG himself).
Overall, these two look ready to contribute at least 10 minutes per game off the bench, maybe more. Dawkins is likely the better bet to have a big year off the bench as his shooting will immediately find a home in this offense. Incorporating MAAR — especially if he is a liability from outside — could prove a tougher task for John Beilein.