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Running down how the Colin Castleton transfer affects next year’s center rotation

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Castleton’s departure takes a developing body out of the mix, but there are still good pieces here.

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-Michigan at Iowa State Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines have lost another rising junior to the transfer portal in the form of forward/center Colin Castleton late Wednesday night, which now opens up another scholarship spot for the program as the 2020-21 roster rounds itself into shape. Castleton’s departure is not all that unexpected given the promise he started the season with and the eventual decline of his role, but it is still the loss of a big body that would have factored itself in to the center rotation next season.

How is how things might look at center in 2020-21 with Castleton moving on? Here is how it feels things stand without any more attrition to the class.

Hunter Dickinson (Fr.)

Dickinson, 7-foot-2, 255 pounds, may not wind up as the most heralded recruit in Juwan Howard’s first full class, but the argument can now be made that he is the most important. He appears to be a college-ready center fresh out of the packaging the day he sets foot on campus, at least physically, with an ever-evolving low-post game and improving consistency stretching the floor from the perimeter.

Austin Davis (5th yr.)

Davis is returning for a fifth season at Michigan and with Jon Teske graduating many have assumed that he can be penciled into the starting center role, but I’m not so sure that is the case. His minutes might expand a bit, but based on who is coming in and what they have, we probably see him play much more of the role we saw this past season. His situation and how he fits in might be more of a platoon-type deal, to use a baseball term, but I would still expect Davis coming off of the bench.

Brandon Johns (Jr.)

Johns does not have the size that the guys in front of him have, but we saw him play the five in some small-ball lineups this year and depending on what Howard wants to do with his rotations, that certainly could be something we see again next season. The loss of Castleton means minutes up for grabs at both forward and center, so a guy like Johns seems like one of the bigger beneficiaries from all of this even though he had already surpassed him on the depth chart, so to speak.

Bonus: Isaiah Todd (Fr.)

Todd comes in last place here because honestly, it remains to be seen If he winds up signing or not. It does not take a ton of sleuthing to find out that he has removed almost all ties to Michigan via his social media accounts, including his commitment video on Instagram. If he actually does wind up at Michigan, it feels like he has the chance to play the five in a smaller lineup a la Chris Bosh.

Overview

The ultimate tell of what Michigan’s depth looks like here might depend on what Todd winds up doing, but even with those top three, depth does not seem like much of an issue there. Upside comes into question, but I think there’s a very good chance that what we see out of Dickinson from day one is an upgrade over what Michigan got out of Teske this year, which still makes this a good group. Davis’ standing on a team much more talented than this year’s is going to be something to keep an eye on. It would be interesting to see how he fits if he is able to crack the starting lineup.