The aftermath of John Beilein leaving the Michigan basketball program hasn’t been pretty, and one of the biggest blows was from a player who isn’t even on the team yet. 2019 4-star forward Jalen Wilson de-committed from the Michigan Wolverines last Thursday.
Wilson is a top 50 recruit in the country who signed his letter of intent to Michigan back in November. Now the Wolverines find another hole in their program after missing out on one of the class’ top prospects.
Wilson was talented enough to be a starter next season. He shoots the ball extremely well from deep, can drive to the hoop efficiently and is an all-around threat on offense.
But let’s not forget the Wolverines brought in the No. 11 recruiting class in 2018 that consisted of Ignas Brazdeikis, Brandon Johns, David DeJulius and Colin Castleton. Even with the departure of Brazdeikis, the other three could play key roles in a new system.
The team will also have some talented vets remaining. The most notable player remaining on the team could be Zavier Simpson. He is a natural leader, and whoever is the next head coach at Michigan is going to have him to lean on to help control this team. Beilein constantly praised Simpson for his contributions to the team on and off the court, and it would be difficult to imagine anything else from Simpson next season.
Shooting guard will be a pretty large hole to fill. Unfortunately, this would have been the perfect spot to slip Wilson into if he had come to Ann Arbor.
The two favorites are going to be Eli Brooks and DeJulius. Brooks has had his struggles during his two seasons with Michigan as he constantly found himself in and out of every game rotation. Brooks averaged 2.5 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 12.9 minutes per game last season. His three point percentage was only 29.2 percent — obviously not what you want out of your shooting guard.
DeJulius is a natural point guard, and backed up Simpson in many circumstances last season. However, a transition to shooting guard could mean more playing time right away. He was a talented shooter in high school capable of generating his own shot or catching and shooting. But this didn’t quite happen last season. DeJulius shot a dreadful 20 percent from the field and an even worse 6.7 percent from deep. While he may be a dark horse candidate, the position will likely be filled by one of these two guys.
The only remaining player in the 2019 class, forward Cole Bajema, could throw his name in the hat if he stays committed. The 4-star prospect is an undersized small forward who would fit better as a taller shooting guard. He really shoots the ball well, but his body is underdeveloped at only 175 pounds for his 6-foot-7 frame.
Whatever system the next Michigan head coach runs is what will be pivotal for the 3-5 slots in the starting lineup. By far the biggest hole will be the small forward position as both Brazdeikis and Matthews are headed to the NBA. But they have the capability to play big, which will honestly be the best move for the roster that they currently have.
Isaiah Livers has shown he is capable of playing the three. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward is a good size for the position and has shown obvious skill on both sides of the ball and especially from behind the arc. Livers is capable of being a lock down defender and is very athletic. If he can get faster, it will only help his odds to transition for a four to a three.
Then the power forward could be former top 100 prospect Brandon Johns Jr. The 6-foot-8, 206-pounder showed out in one specific performance last season and has struck a ton of buzz in the Michigan fandom. He scored eight points and brought down eight boards against Indiana while defending one of the best big men in the Big Ten, Juwan Morgan. Even that kind of production could be huge for the Wolverines in the 2019-20 season.
Center is probably the deepest position for Michigan. Jon Teske will be huge for this team, especially if he can shoot the ball from three consistently. There were some games where Teske was on the money from deep and it made the Wolverines a much deeper and more explosive team.
The backup will also be a guy that showed a lot of promise last season and that is Castleton. He played in only 19 games last season, but he did have an 11-point performance in the win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in late February.
The roster would have been much more versatile and talented with Wilson. He could have realistically found himself in the starting lineup as either a shooting guard or a small forward. Now that he is no longer a Wolverine, the next Michigan head coach is going to have to fill those positional needs in some creative ways.
It is worth noting Michigan now has three open roster spots that need to be filled. This could mean some transfer students coming it, but it also means that whoever comes in as the next coach is going to have very little time to be convincing.