Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard and his staff are working on filling out their second full recruiting class since taking the job in 2019. Despite one of the bigger storylines on the trail being about the five-star talent that they have missed out on, Howard’s 2021 class currently ranks as the No. 6 haul of players in the country and second in the Big Ten to Michigan State.
Here is a refresher on where everything stands as of now and what’s next for the Wolverines.
Four-star point guard Frankie Collins (Henderson, NV)
No. 60 player nationally | No. 10 point guard | Committed: 8/19/20
Collins is a traditional point guard that shows a strong ability to get his teammates involved, but also create for himself and take over games when he has to. He wants the ball in his hands and he’ll make sure that it stays there until an opportunity to make a play is there, whether it be by taking it on himself or getting teammates involved.
The way he is able to get downhill and finish around the rim is impressive for a player of his size and he does have the ability to stretch a defense with his perimeter shooting, although there are plenty of questions about his efficiency in his jump shots and selection. What he lacks in his size he more than makes up for in athleticism and his wingspan and he has shown himself plenty capable of getting after it on the defensive end of the court.
The Wolverines will likely need him to play early with Zeb Jackson as the only other ball-handling guard on the roster. I think he has the chance to be Michigan’s most talented point guard since Trey Burke.
Four-star shooting guard Kobe Bufkin (Grand Rapids, MI)
No. 65 player nationally | No. 12 shooting guard | Committed: 7/10/20
Michigan landed itself a player who is explosive and can score in bunches in Bufkin. The Wolverines desperately looked to add scoring punch on the wing and talent in the guard rotation in this class and they did both with Bufkin’s commitment. He does possess combo guard qualities, but based on his film and feedback from those who have watched him play, he is more of a two than a one. Though, he does have the ability to bring the ball up the floor.
You would probably like to see a little more consistency in his three-point shooting, but he has a bounce and a quickness to his game mixed with length that I think is going to make him an early factor in Ann Arbor. His athleticism jumps off of his film and everything he does looks extremely fluid and smooth on the floor. Despite his pace of play, he never really appears to be out of control.
He still has a senior season to play and some developing to do, but it is not hard to imagine him in the Eli Brooks role as a higher-end option and more along the lines of what Howard is trying to build. Bufkin might be a point guard option in time, but right now he looks best suited as a combo-two guard that does a lot of damage of off ball screens. I see the potential here for one of the better multi-year offensive players in the Big Ten, especially if he can add a little more weight to his frame.
Four-star small forward Isaiah Barnes (Chicago, IL)
No. 120 player nationally | No. 22 small forward | Committed: 6/24/20
Barnes was unranked as a prospect up until this spring. Despite limited opportunities to shine after the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a strong junior campaign put him into 247Sports’ top 100 prospects, where he currently sits at No. 83 in their rankings and No. 120 in the composite.
His development has always been about the physical tools coming along, which will remain the case moving forward. This is a long and athletic wing prospect that appears to be best suited to play the two or the three and he has proven to be a solid defender at multiple spots on the floor. There is not a ton of video out there on him, but by all accounts Barnes can best be described at this stage of the game as inconsistent or streaky offensively. A lot of the reports and film on him show him as a catch-and-shoot type of prospect, though he did start to put the ball on the floor a bit more and create for himself in his junior season.
His improvement here could be the difference between being a three-and-d guy off the bench or someone who can come in and be a major contributor with some coaching. MGoBlog put the comparison on him as a less explosive Charles Matthews, and that feels like an apt parallel given what is out there on him so far.
Three-star power forward Will Tschetter (Stewartville, MN)
No. 153 player nationally | No. 29 power forward | Committed: 7/6/20
Tschetter is a Power 5-caliber forward prospect that is able to score at all three levels of the floor. Given his size (6-foot-8, 225 pounds), he appears to be best-suited to play the four with the ability to slide down and play a stretch-five position if he is able to add more bulk to his frame. His finishing skills around the rim are impressive and he is confident in his ability to fill a stat sheet from every level of the floor.
Tschetter has the look of a player who might make more of an impact in the later seasons of his college career as he adapts to the speed and the flow of the college game. Minnesota is not necessarily known as a powerful basketball state, so there are certainly some level-of-competition concerns there. His athleticism has come into question but there is still plenty of time for him to develop and we know that he will be in one of the better strength and conditioning programs in college basketball.
How many spots are left?
As of now, Michigan officially has one scholarship remaining in the 2021 cycle, but many expect them to fill two more spots before it is all said and done. The sixth and seventh spots depend on the eligibility of transfer Chaundee Brown and a potential postseason decision from Franz Wagner to enter the 2021 NBA Draft.
Who are the candidates to fill those spots?
We took a look at Michigan’s top remaining prospects earlier this week, but it basically boils down to an all-out push to add a center to this class with a trio of five-stars in Efton Reid, Charles Bediako and Moussa Diabate leading the way as the top targets. If they can pull one of those names — Reid might be the most favorable recruitment of the three — it next becomes about keeping the guys that they have and taking a swing at some of the stars on the board, such as a Chet Holmgren. Given what we have seen from Juwan Howard and his staff so far, it also seems likely that any remaining spots could be filled via the transfer portal.