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Scouting Michigan basketball’s latest commit: 4-star forward Jalen Wilson

Michigan’s first 2019 commitment is a great one.

Florida State v Michigan Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Earlier this week, the Michigan Wolverines basketball team landed its first commitment of the 2019 recruiting class.

Jalen Wilson, a 6’6-6’8 wing (depending who you believe) from Texas, is Beilein’s highest rated recruit in nearly five years, coming in at No. 34 on 247’s National Composite list — a list compiled by averaging the rankings across a number of notable platforms. Let’s take a look at Wilson’s game.

Scoring

Wilson is a bit of a throwback. Well, not really, but when today’s news cycle makes last week feel like last year, Wilson’s game feels somewhat old school.

His shooting is probably the most hotly contested aspect of his game. His shot looks really pretty, and he can get hot from anywhere on the court, particularly in the mid-range. However, his free throw percentage hovers around 70 and his 3-point shooting is in the 20s. Part of this is usage and the load Wilson has to carry offensively at times, but it’s a bit puzzling someone with such a good stroke doesn’t have more consistency from the spots where most pure shooters absolutely punish teams.

The good thing is that his form is good and Beilein has been able to get more out of worse shooters — 2017-18 notwithstanding.

I call Wilson a throwback though because of his ability to score off the bounce from mid-range as well as finish through contact in effective, though unspectacular looking ways. He’s a good, not great athlete that doesn’t play above the rim on either end. Simply put, he’s got the makings of a damn good college player that may not have the tools for the NBA.

Transition

Jalen is going to make the Wolverines dangerous when the time comes.

He’s a good rebounder with the ability to dribble the length of the floor to find a man or get his own. You can call him a one-man fast break. I’d argue he’s the most comfortable when he gets a head start and scans the floor.

This may be one aspect where his less visually stunning game benefits him — he’s very under control when he’s on the break, and this opens up a lot. Wilson also finds clear lanes and open spots when the defense is on its heels. While Michigan has historically been a team that doesn’t push all that much, recent recruiting indicates a possible shift in the team’s philosophy. Jalen could fit into that wonderfully if the game opens up, as that’s where he’s most comfortable.

Defense

Wilson’s a smart kid that has played for one of the best basketball teams in the country. I really like his intangibles and that’s something that gives me high hopes for him as a defender. He’s not a shot blocker and he’s not going to terrorize passing lanes, but he’s got length, basketball IQ and the right amount of athleticism to become a damn solid on-ball and help defender.

If that doesn’t excite you, the 2017-18 Wolverines were great defensively in large part because they had a collection of rock solid defenders rather than an army of athletic freak-beasts protecting the rim. In today’s switch-everything basketball landscape, versatility and solid fundamentals are arguably the most important things on that end — skills that Wilson has in spades.

Outlook

Wilson is a great high school player with tons of potential to make an impact in college. He was injured a lot as an underclassman, and as a result doesn’t have as much tape and scouting as some of the similarly ranked players in his class. He’s going to be someone to watch next year in high school to see if he can level out his shooting while flashing a bit more on the defensive end.

He’s flirted with the 5-star ranking in the past, and a big year where he shows those things could get him right back in the running.