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In Chaundee Brown, Michigan gains valuable physicality and experience

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The Wake Forest transfer was deemed immediately eligible by the NCAA on Friday.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 29 Notre Dame at Wake Forest

On Friday night, the Michigan men’s basketball team got its second helping of good news on the day when the NCAA deemed Wake Forest transfer Chaundee Brown eligible for the 2020-21 season.

Brown, who committed to the Wolverines in May, immediately raises the team’s ceiling for the upcoming season. The former top-40 recruit averaged 12.1 points and 6.5 rebounds on 46 percent shooting for the Demon Deacons last season, but decided to transfer once former coach Danny Manning was fired at the beginning of the offseason. He also entered his name into the NBA Draft, but withdrew it shortly after choosing Michigan.

For Brown, the waiver puts a formal end to five months of uncertainty.

“Since my arrival in Ann Arbor, I have been welcomed with open arms,” Brown said in a statement. “I was ready to do whatever I could to help us succeed either on or off the court. All I know is I cannot wait to put that maize and blue jersey on and play with this group of guys.”

In Brown, Michigan coach Juwan Howard adds a near-perfect roster fit. At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Brown’s bruising presence will be a welcomed addition to the Wolverines’ backcourt. He excelled at finishing around the rim during three seasons at Wake Forest, and though hasn’t shot above 35 percent from 3-point range over the course of an entire season yet, he’s shown an ability to stretch the floor when necessary.

Brown is at his best when playing downhill, which is well-suited for Howard’s positionless basketball style. He’s not one to shy away from contact — rather, he absorbs it. His inside-out game and physicality complement the shooting prowess of Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers, Michigan’s two likely starters at the wing spots.

Brown finishes well through contact, but when he can’t, he makes his trips to the free throw line count. Even though he’s not a lights-out jump shooter, Brown never shot below 80 percent on free throws in a single season during his time in Winston-Salem.

The same traits that make Brown so impactful on offense are felt on the other end of the floor, too. The combination of his size, physicality and quickness allows him to guard multiple positions, which the Wolverines will all but certainly ask him to do this season. Even when he’s guarding taller opponents, his strength allows him to hold his own in the post.

Perhaps most importantly, Brown’s 74 career ACC starts add a valuable dimension of leadership to a Michigan roster that features six newcomers. He started three seasons in arguably the nation’s toughest conference and, despite the Demon Deacons’ lack of recent team success, played on some big stages. In February, his 24 points led Wake Forest to a double-overtime win over then-No.7 Duke.

All told, Brown’s versatility, success and experience in the ACC should smooth his transition into the Big Ten.