It’s been a busy few months for many teams in college basketball, and the Michigan Wolverines are no exception.
As of 11:59 p.m. on May 11, The 60-day window for the transfer portal is closed. Recruits still in the portal can commit somewhere, but no one else can enter it as of this past Thursday.
The Wolverines will look a lot different this upcoming season than they did in 2022-23, the first season the men’s basketball team didn’t make the NCAA tournament since the 2014-15 season. They still have a chance to pick 1 or 2 new players from players still in the portal, but the bulk of their roster is set.
Let’s quickly recap who left the Wolverines from last year’s squad, break down Michigan’s depth, and project their starting lineup.
2023 recruit who de-committed: C Papa Kante (requesting NLI release in April)
Predicted starters are in bold
PG Dug McDaniel, SG Caleb Love, PG Jaelin Llewellyn, SG/SF Nimari Burnett, PG/SG George Washington III
Michigan’s lack of guard depth last season bit them in the butt many times, but after this off-season, they have quite a bit of talent at the 1 and 2 spots.
Michigan’s lost their three leading scorers from last season, but North Carolina transfer Caleb Love can pick up some of that scoring load. He’s going to take a lot of shots, but he’s proven he can be dominant, especially in postseason play. I’d imagine Dug McDaniel, who was thrust into the starting lineup due to Llewellyn’s injury last season, did enough last season to prove he should stay as the starting point guard.
Off the bench, the Wolverines have options. Jaelin Llewellyn — who is coming off a torn ACL but should be ready for the season — got his waiver cleared and is returning to Ann Arbor. He gives Michigan an experienced guard who could be a 6th man and be a valuable contributor off the bench.
Nimari Burnett, a transfer from Alabama, maybe the defacto starting small foward on this roster, but will probably get some minutes as the 2 off the bench; he’s not super efficient but he’s a solid defender who can excel in transition. I’d think that George Washington III, the lone commit of the 2023 class, will compete for minutes at the 2. He’s incredibly talented and can be a solid scorer, but with how the current depth shakes out, I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets redshirted.
SG/SF Nimari Burnett, PF Terrance Williams III, PF Will Tschetter, PF Tray Jackson, SF/SG Jace Howard, SF/PF Youssef Khayat
One of the things this roster is lacking is a clear cut option to start at the 3, so I’d imagine that Nimari Burnett slides into that spot.
I’d think Terrance Williams III will start the year alongside him. He’s one of the longest tenured players in the Howard era, he was a captain last season, and if he’s neck-and-neck with Will Tschetter and Tray Jackson at the 4, I think T-Will starts to begin the season as a seniority nod, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s moved to the bench if he struggles to start the year.
Michigan has plenty of options at the 4 now; Tschetter seems to know his role and is working to get stronger this off-season. I’d expect his playing time is going to increase. In Seton Hall transfer Jackson, the Wolverines have a power forward who shot 37.5% from three who can rebound well and finish from mid-range.
I think those three will get the majority of the minutes at 4, but if Michigan wants to go small, Khayat or Howard could slide to the 4. I could see either of those guys getting minutes at the 3, Howard because of his defense and Khayat because of his potential on the offensive end.
C Tarris Reed Jr.
With Dickinson leaving and Kante de-committing, Tarris Reed Jr. is the sole center on Michigan’s roster and should slide in as the starting 5, barring a major injury of some sort.
We saw Reed Jr. mostly in short spurts last season, and he played really well at the 4 alongside Dickinson. He was one of Michigan’s best defenders and proved he can switch onto guards and not get exposed. He’ll be in Ann Arbor this off-season and will focus on getting stronger and quicker.
He’s an excellent rebounder and can dominate in the paint, but with more minutes, I want him to get more reliable from the free-throw line and get better as a shooter in the mid-range.
Michigan may have to play small ball when Reed Jr. is on the bench out of necessity. It’s something they never really got to try with Dickinson in the starting lineup, so I’m excited to see what Michigan looks like with Will Tschetter or Tray Jackson playing the 5 and Michigan experimenting with 5-out looks.