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Making sense of the David DeJulius transfer: Here’s what might happen next

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We thought that DeJulius would be next in line to start at point guard, but it appears it was not that simple.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Wolverines point guard David DeJulius is set to enter the transfer portal, leaving Juwan Howard and his program without the upperclassman leader at the position they were hoping to have next season. DeJulius was considered to be the next in line for the job with Zavier Simpson graduating, but it appears that it was not that cut and dry.

To break down this situation, we first have to consider the “why” of it all, which we do not know for certain until DeJulius or someone from his camp addresses it. So let us preface what comes next by saying that this is mostly speculatory.

DeJulius was a John Beilein recruit and someone who was very much in the mold of a Trey Burke or Derrick Walton Jr. Those guys could pack an offensive punch when they needed to, as could DeJulius when his shots were falling, but what made them good-to-great players was their ability to distribute, as well. Simpson was not as offensively gifted as his predecessors were, but what he lacked with consistent offense he made up for in passing and sharing the basketball.

That’s the the type of basketball that DeJulius committed to when he came to Michigan and pledged to Beilein. That is not to say it could not have worked under Howard, but he was not recruited by this staff. The Wolverines were fortunate last offseason in that outside of losing Jalen Wilson to Kansas, there were no real casualties of the coaching change. The rallying cry was overwhelmingly that this group was going to stick together after a somewhat shocking departure from the winningest coach in program history.

With the season abruptly ending due to COVID-19 and life — no longer sports — in focus, it allows guys to take a step back and figure out what makes them happy. For DeJulius, it appears to be that moving on is what the next step is, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Usually when players transfer, fans and media dig for where the discontent and disconnect must have been. I never got the sense there was any of that between DeJulius and the new staff. Sometimes you just decide to shake things up.

The obvious ramifications of this are that as of now, Michigan is at 13 scholarships (chart here) for the 2020-21 season and is now at the limit barring any other incoming or outgoing moves. Of course, we are waiting on a decision from five-star guard Josh Christopher, which seemingly could come anytime now. He is still considered a heavy lean to the Wolverines with the spring signing period set to open on April 15.

Additional attrition could come in the form of another transfer, a player decommitting or Isaiah Livers (and potentially Franz Wagner) entering and staying in the 2020 NBA Draft.

As far as guards left on the roster, for now it would be Eli Brooks and incoming freshman Zeb Jackson. Brooks started at the two this year for Michigan, but has played point guard and started games there as a freshman. Michigan has also been active in the transfer market (perhaps the writing has been on the wall for DeJulius all along) with interest shown in Columbia guard Mike Smith and Harvard’s Bryce Aiken, among others. Both players averaged around 22 points per game at their respective schools last season.

As of today, it would stand to reason that Brooks and a potential transfer would battle it out for starting point guard duties with Zeb Jackson being able to be eased in. Michigan wants the majority of its players to be able to handle the ball and bring it up the court, so the addition of Christopher would certainly add some sizzle there as well.

There still needs to be some other answers about who is in or out for next year, but we are starting to get some of them answered. DeJulius is no longer a part of it and will now have to sit out a year wherever he decides to go. Hopefully he finds the fit he may be looking for to take his game to the next level because there is unrealized potential still there.

For now, Michigan loses a little bit of offensive punch from the guard rotation, but the tradeoff may be worth it when it is all said and done. This should be something that works out for both sides. We will see how it plays out.