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Top transfer targets with Houstan, Diabate staying in NBA Draft

Here are the guys in the portal to watch for.

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Northwestern v Michigan Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The 2022-23 Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball team will look a lot different than last year’s Sweet Sixteen squad. The Wolverines are officially without seven of their top 10 scorers from last season, with the latest departures being Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate, both deciding to stay in the NBA Draft after one season in Ann Arbor.

While Michigan fans are surely sad to see them go, one positive is it frees up two scholarships for Juwan Howard to go out and add some veteran players to join what should be a young team.

Here are a few players who are still in the transfer portal that would look good in the Maize and Blue next season.

Joey Baker, Guard, Duke

2021-22 stats: 11.9 minutes per game, 4.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 43.2%/40.5%/77.8% shooting splits (FG%, 3pt%, FT%)

As reported by Chris Balas with The Wolverine, Duke guard Joey Baker visited Ann Arbor on Tuesday. After four seasons with the Blue Devils, he decided to look at different options.

Baker’s counting stats don’t exactly jump off the page, but he was a captain for Duke last season and has a nice three-point stroke. This is a Michigan team that could use more sharpshooters, especially considering last year’s squad was ranked 172nd in the nation in three-point percentage (33.92%).

As our Trevor Woods mentioned earlier this week, Baker’s 88 games of college basketball would be useful for a young roster. At the very least, he could play a similar role he played at Duke: being a veteran leader off the bench who can hit an open three when called upon.

Pete Nance, Forward, Northwestern

2021-22 stats: 27.2 mpg, 14.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.7 assists per game, 1.1 blocks per game, 49.7%/45.2%/76.8%

With Houstan and Diabate occupying the starting forward spots last year, Michigan could use a guy who can plug in and play the 4 who pairs well with Hunter Dickinson.

Northwestern’s Pete Nance could certainly be that guy. He showed consistent improvement in his Wildcat tenure, most notably from three, as he went from making 36.4% of his threes in 2020-21 to 45.2% of his 3.1 attempts per game in 2021-22.

Nance is at the top of The Athletic’s recent piece on remaining transfers.

“He would have been all-conference in any other league outside of the Big Ten, but was just stuck behind the ridiculously loaded set of bigs in that league and got underrated as a result of it,” said Sam Vecenie and C.J. Moore. “He’s a 15-point, seven-rebound, three-assist guy per game, where all of those skills show up functionally on tape. He can handle and pass out of dribble hand-offs and you can play him higher up the court.”

If the Wolverines were able to land Nance, he could slide right in as the starting 4, allowing Terrance Williams to stay in his spark plug role off the bench and providing Dickinson with another viable three-point option to kick out to on double teams.

Jacob Grandison, Guard, Illinois

2021-22 stats: 25.0 mpg, 9.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 45.5%/41.0%/82.4%

Grandison is listed as a guard, but he spent time at both the 3 and 4 for Illinois last year, which gives Michigan positional flexibility.

While Grandison was limited toward the end of the year with a shoulder injury, he was a key piece on one of the best teams in the Big Ten. Like Nance, he has plenty of experience going against in-conference competition and could be a valuable role player.

Grandison is a good help-side defender, an excellent cutter and has a solid three-point stroke (sensing a theme here?). He doesn’t have as much upside as some of the guys on this list, but he could certainly contribute for the Wolverines right away.

Emmanuel Akot, Guard, Boise State

2021-22 stats: 31.8 mpg, 10.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.8 apg, 40.0%/38.7%/59.0%

Akot is potentially the most unique player on this list. He’s listed as a Point Forward by The Athletic, spending time running the offense while also sliding to the 5 when needed.

He’s comfortable creating his own shot, facing up against defenders in the mid-range, and seemed confident launching it from deep by utilizing a step-back to get himself open in the teeth of the defense.

Akot would provide the Wolverines with a lot of versatility, length and floor spacing, with Big Ten defenders being forced to respect his jump shot.

Emoni Bates, Guard, Memphis

2021-22 stats: 23.4 mpg in 18 games, 9.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 38.6%/32.9%/64.6%

Bates is one of the most highly-touted prospects to ever come out of the state of Michigan, but he doesn’t nearly fit the mold Michigan is going for in the portal.

Michigan is looking for a veteran college basketball player, preferably at the 3 or 4 spot, who could contribute right away and is okay with not being a main offensive option. Bates could be a star in college basketball and flashed potential at Memphis, but injury and maturity concerns stopped that from happening.

The Ypsilanti phenom listed Michigan in his top six last month, but it’s been reported Michigan isn’t actively recruiting him.

Michigan doesn’t necessarily need a star, with Dickinson and new point guard Jaelin Llewellyn expected to have the ball a lot. Bates could also ruin team chemistry. He’s clearly a player with lots of potential, but I know I’m not the only one concerned about the baggage that comes with him.