We are just under five months out from the beginning of the 2018-19 season for the Michigan Wolverines. Over the coming days I’ll be posting my way-too-early projection for each position on the Wolverines roster.
Today, we are highlighting the shooting guard position. Let’s get right to it.
The Starter: Jordan Poole
That’s right, the player who hit the biggest shot of the 2018 March Madness tournament will be starting for Michigan come November.
Poole had a very successful season in 2017. He had the second most playing time among freshmen behind only Isaiah Livers with 12.3 minutes per game. Last season, Poole would have received even more playing time if Michigan was not so deep at the two-guard position. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Duncan Robinson. and even Charles Matthews split time playing the shooting guard position in different Beilein rotations.
Now it is Poole’s turn to show everything he has to offer, and I expect fans to be pleasantly surprised by the jump he will make. Poole is a very good shooter, and he showed it multiple times throughout the season.
His best game? The Big-Ten conference opener against Indiana. Poole lit up the Hoosiers scoring 19 points, making five 3-pointers. Expect more games similar to this one when he becomes a starter and earns more playing time.
That was no outlier of a game, either. Poole shot 37 percent from deep last season, and nearly 43 percent from the field. His most consistent shot is from the corner. Backdoor cuts to the hoop and drawing fouls made him a very tough player to guard.
The only area Poole needs to work on is passing the ball and making moves off the dribble. At times, the young gun struggled to keep the offense moving well and tallied up turnovers. Although he can shoot the ball really well, he needs to work with his shot off the dribble and driving harder to the hoop. If he can get that done, Poole could be a top player in the Big Ten.
Here is the video of his famous shot once again because we all know you can never watch it enough (still give me chills):
The Backup: Charles Matthews
I know, I know Charles Matthews is the best player on the team. He will more than likely be the starter at the small forward position unless Ignas Brazdeikis has a very strong start to the season. Both of those players will be addressed in the small forward section of the projections.
The Prospect: Adrien Nunez
Nunez is an incoming freshman and the only 3-star player on this year’s list of Wolverine recruits. Although he is the lowest rated freshman, according to 247sports, he is still a very talented basketball player.
Nunez reminds me a lot of Duncan Robinson with his ability to dribble drive, shoot from deep and grab boards. He is also taller for the shooting guard position standing at 6-foot-5.
Nunez is an impressive shooter, especially from the corner, and he heats up in games with the capability to hit multiple shots in a row. Since the shooting guard position went from deep to pretty thin in the span of a season, he can expect some playing time if he can hit 3-pointers with regularity, which we have seen from Beilein players in the past.
The freshman can hit difficult shots on the drive and is a great shooter off the pass. His catch-and-shoot ability and the way he drives to the basket and scores against bigger defenders makes him a difficult player to guard.
Nunez needs to work on his defense, speed, and playing with his back to the basket. He will be bigger than most players guarding him, so the ability to post up and hit fadeaways or drive to the hoop will make him an incredibly impactful player offensively.
Where he lacks defensively is mostly because of his quickness. He is usually one of the last players up and down the court, which sometimes works to his advantage. On the offensive end, it may catch a sleeping player leaving him open from behind the arc. But defensively, it does the same thing, leaving an opponent open for a bucket.
Nunez has a lot of raw potential, and in a season or two learning the system and getting quicker and stronger he could wind up being a starter.