The 2016-2017 season came to a positive and optimistic end with a Sweet 16 run in the NCAA Tournament. The Michigan fan base pleasantly surprised as the regular season had some scary moments. There was a lot to look forward to. It was great.
Then came the news that DJ Wilson and Mo Wagner were declaring for the NBA draft. Things didn’t look so positive anymore. Wilson and Wagner could both end up coming back, but even without one or both of them, Michigan’s 2017 class still has plenty of candidates to be the next man up and help this team in the future. The train doesn’t stop.
Here is a list of the four commitments they have coming in 2017 and a breakdown of their ability to be the next man up:
Jaaron Simmons, PG, 6’1’’, 184 lbs (Grad Transfer)
Simmons is probably the most battle-ready newbie on the 2017 Michigan squad and he could not have come at a better time. Say what you want about the MAC Conference, but it’s a very competitive basketball league and Simmons was one of the most talented players in it. He runs the pick and roll very well, has great vision, great shot, and an excellent finisher around the rim. Watching him play, you won’t be able to help comparing him to Trey Burke. He’s just what the doctor ordered. Expect him to start and contribute the entire one year we have with him.
Isaiah Livers, F, 6’8’’, 205 lbs
Livers is the real deal, ladies and gentlemen. This year’s Michigan Mr. Basketball has it all. Currently ranked #72 in ESPN’s Top 100, he is big, has a great shot, good vision, impressive ball-handling, and has the attacking mentality you like to see in a guy his size. He can throw it down with authority and rebounds well.
Look for him to eventually be a candidate to replace and surpass the play of Zak Irvin. I would say he is not only able to play his freshman year, but maybe even could challenge the presumed starter, Charles Matthews, if he’s prepared enough. He is not as highly rated as the next player on this list, but I think he’ll be more ready to make an impact because of his athleticism and the fact that Michigan has some need for scoring at his position.
Jordan Poole, PG, 6’5’’, 185 lbs
Currently ranked #48 overall in ESPN’s Top 100, he has an excellent shot, driving, and pass ability. He has good height and he plays like it. It is possible he will contribute his first year because of his talent, but I feel like Michigan has enough guys like him to wait on his development. He does need to gain some weight, but nothing a year in Michigan’s strength and conditioning program can’t fix.
Eli Brooks, PG, 6’1’’, 170 lbs
The best thing about Eli is his offensive prowess as a point guard. He can pass, shoot, and create. His biggest weakness is probably just his size. If he can gain some weight, he could be just the kind of point guard Beilein works wonders with. He will probably need a couple years to see a ton of playing time, especially with the arrival of Simmons and the presence of sophomore Xavier Simpson.
Also, don’t forget about Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews! He had to sit out last year due to transfer rules, but I believe he has the most pure talent of anyone on the roster. He doesn’t count as a 2017 class, of course, but does certainly count as a newbie, so I will mention him anyway!
The 6’6’’ 190 lb SF/SG was, at one point, one of the most sought after recruits in the country. He’s a long, sleek guard with excellent athleticism, attacking spirit, and a good shot. He’s the kind of athlete that doesn’t come around Michigan very often, look for him to start and contribute immediately this season!
Overall, it’s a great group of incoming talent who will be making an impact on next year’s team. It fills the most immediate need at point guard, but it also adds a bonus athlete in Livers. Simmons will likely steal the show in 2017, unless Poole makes the leap to the college level way quicker than expected or Xavier Simpson develops quicker. Beilein’s offense simply can’t function without good to excellent point guard play. They now have that and some.
Rest assured. The Michigan basketball team will be good and deep next season. Who do you think is the next man up?