There will be plenty of new faces for the Michigan basketball program this fall. Not only did the Wolverines pick up transfers in Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown, but they also brought in a four-man freshman class that will look to be the faces of the program moving forward.
Michigan’s 2020 class was ranked No. 15 in the nation, according to 247Sports’ composite. The class is headlined by two former four-star prospects, guard Zeb Jackson and center Hunter Dickinson. The class also featured two talented forwards who will also be considered for playing time early on, Terrance Williams and Jace Howard, Juwan’s son.
With the season beginning in just a couple days, let’s recap who these guys are and what they bring to the table.
No. 42 overall, No. 9 center, Hyattsville, Maryland
Unlike the other incoming freshmen, there will be no positional versatility for Dickinson. Listed at 7-foot-2 and 255 pounds, Dickinson is a center all the way.
He is a big boy who is going to make it tough on opponents in the paint. He puts himself in good positions to be able to make rebounds consistently. Even after getting injured early in the game, Dickinson made it tough on one of the top players in his class, center Evan Mobley, when they went head-to-head earlier this year.
On the offensive side of the ball, he has a decent shot, but likely won’t be able to hit three-pointers on a routine basis. But I also thought the same thing about Jon Teske, and he turned into an OK three-point shooter by the time it was all said and done.
Dickinson isn’t the most athletic big man we’ve seen in recent memory at Michigan, but he has the potential to be a very good player for several years in Ann Arbor.
No. 87 overall, No. 11 shooting guard, Maumee, Ohio
The top ranked guard coming to Ann Arbor this season is Zeb Jackson. Even though he played his senior year of high school ball at Monteverde Academy, a private school in Florida, he grew up just about an hour away from Ann Arbor in Maumee, Ohio. He committed to Michigan before John Beilein left the program, but he stayed true to his commitment and signed up to play for Howard.
According to his MGoBlue page, he averaged 25.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.7 steals per game throughout his high school career. His Monteverde team was 25-0 this spring before things got shut down due to the pandemic, so he was likely bound for better numbers than that, and possibly a bump in the rankings.
With his ability to pull up from anywhere and make a pretty pass when necessary, Jackson has potential to play either the one or two in college. Even though he is listed as a shooting guard on all the recruiting services, he really is the definition of a combo guard. His favorite player to watch in the NBA, at least when he was at Monteverde, was D’Angelo Russell, so that would be a pretty good player to model yourself after.
No. 92 overall, No. 14 power forward, Washington, D.C.
Williams was a big win on the recruiting trail for Howard and company. Originally committed to Georgetown, he ended up decommitting on Dec. 5, 2019. Just three weeks later, he took an official visit to Ann Arbor. And just four days after that visit, he declared his commitment to the Wolverines.
Williams is another versatile player who can play and guard multiple positions. He is listed at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, so he could probably play the three and four with ease, and be a five when playing small ball, kind of like how Brandon Johns currently does. Given how physical Williams’ game is, I think that would be an easy transition for him.
Averaging nearly a double-double per game during his senior year (17.9 points, 9.9 rebounds), Williams is a solid shooter who can also come down with difficult rebounds. He isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and do some of the tough work other players don’t like to do. I see him being a player opposing Big Ten teams hate for years to come because of that.
No. 378 overall, No. 69 small forward, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The final member of Howard’s 2020 class is his own son, Jace.
He is listed on MGoBlue as a guard at 6-foot-7, 210 pounds, but there is positional flexibility with Howard, as well.
During his senior season, before the pandemic canceled everything, he averaged 10.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He also won the FHSSA Class 5A State Championship during his junior year at University School in Fort Lauderdale.
Howard plays with a lot of energy, especially on defense. In fact, that is probably the thing he does best. He won’t knock you out with his shooting by any means, but he does have a decent jumper. He’ll have to work on his three-point shooting, but there is some untapped potential there.
He isn’t a flashy player by any means, but growing up around the game of basketball with his father, and now being coached by his father, will hopefully go a little ways in his overall development.