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Player Profile: Look for Colin Castleton to emerge as key depth piece for Wolverines

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The work has been put in during the offseason for a step forward from the sophomore big man.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 16 Big Ten Conference Tournament - Minnesota v Michigan Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In today’s preseason Michigan Basketball coverage, we’ll take a look at Colin Castleton, a sophomore center out of Daytona Beach, Florida.

The Story So Far

Castleton was recruited by John Beilein as a four-star power forward, and committed to Michigan over Illinois, Clemson, Georgia, Purdue, Florida, Florida State, and Xavier. He saw somewhat limited playing time his freshman year, coming off the bench for a total of nineteen games and averaging 1.1 points per game, but his playing time and performance both increased steadily throughout the season.

At the beginning of the 2018-19 season, Austin Davis and Brandon Johns Jr. were both favored over Castleton as backups to Jon Teske, but Castleton eventually secured the spot of first big man off the bench.

Castleton’s career high offensive output came on Feb. 28th against Nebraska, when he scored 11 points and finished the game 5-for-7 from the field. After the game, Teske joked about how he never thought he’d see the crowd of reporters flock to Castleton in the locker room.

What to expect this year

Castleton will likely serve as a backup center to Teske this season, and fans can hope to see him develop the way Teske developed his sophomore season, when he was the backup to Moe Wagner. Although Teske is the clear starter (and one of the best centers in the Big Ten), Castleton has gained 23 pounds, added over three inches to his vertical, and by all accounts appears ready to play significant minutes.

Depending on the scope of injuries to Franz Wagner and Brandon Johns Jr, the team may need to lean on Castleton a bit more than expected at the beginning of the season, potentially slotting him in at the four from time to time. Although it would be less than ideal, Castleton is a versatile player and shouldn’t have a problem playing at either position.

Former Michigan basketball star Ignas Brazdeikis, who was in the same recruiting class as Castleton and now plays for the New York Knicks, can vouch for Castleton’s improvement:

Howard specializes in getting the most out of his bigs and it will be fun to see if Castleton can take that sophomore leap and be a big part of the team this year. Players like him developing and taking the next step might just be what determines whether or not this is a fringe tournament team or if we’re asking just how high Michigan is seeded heading into March.