The Michigan Wolverines seemingly have their point guard of the future running as the sixth man this season in sophomore David DeJulius. The guard is scoring 7.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game this season while shooting 41.7% from the field and playing both on and off the ball at either the 1 or 2 spots. This kind of production has felt more like what we may have expected from him coming out of high school.
In his freshman season, the Wolverines didn’t see much of DeJulius, as he sat on the bench for the majority of the season. Despite playing in 25 games, his moments came in games that were often already decided. Even with the lack of important minutes, DeJulius severely struggled from the field converting on only 20 percent of his shots and 6 percent from beyond the arc.
In an offseason of change for the Michigan basketball program, it seems that DeJulius did a bit of changing himself. The biggest area of improvement has been in his confidence. Throughout the season DeJulius has become more and more willing to craft his own shot off the dribble and has improved on his catch and releases.
I love this kind of determination to take the ball and get it done himself. He knows he has a bit of a mismatch, and uses the screen for a bit of separation, catches his defender even more off guard with a bit of hesitation, steps back and nails a three-pointer. This kind of stuff is big league material and is an extremely pleasant contrast to the facilitator-focused style of Zavier Simpson.
Last season when Simpson was off the floor, not many good things happened, as a young and inexperienced DeJulius and an underdeveloped Eli Brooks ran the offense when Simpson took a break. You can revisit DeJulius’ numbers above, but Brooks struggled mightily as well with just 2.5 points and 1.1 assists last season. As Brooks graduated to the starting lineup, DeJulius became the man off the bench to give both Brooks and Simpson a couple of minutes of rest and Juwan Howard has full confidence that he can get the job done there. This luxury is certainly something the Wolverines missed last season and haven’t seen since Duncan Robinson donned the maize and blue in terms of a guy who can provide that type of scoring punch off the bench.
While DeJulius has certainly been a difference maker this season off the bench, there are still areas where he needs to improve. He has not been automatic from the free-throw line shooting just 69 percent. An upgraded shot from the charity stripe will only further guarantee the starting role for him next season and more time in the clutch going forward.
He also has differing numbers in hostile environments. On the road this season, DeJulius has only converted on 36.1 percent of his shots and 22.7 percent from behind the arc. Meanwhile, at Crisler Center, he is a much more respectable 41.2 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from three. Two of the biggest remaining games on the schedule are on the road at No. 23 Ohio State and at No. 9 Maryland. After that the Wolverines won’t see basketball in Ann Arbor for the remainder of the season. This is a trend that we will keeping an eye on down the stretch for DeJulius to continue to grow in the second season of his collegiate career as he tries to bring positive momentum into next season.