Michigan’s men’s basketball kicks off their 2021-22 season in a little less than a month, taking on Buffalo on Nov. 10. A lot has happened since their loss to UCLA in the Elite Eight of last year’s tournament, so before the season starts, let’s take a look back on this past offseason.
Michigan returned to Ann Arbor after losing to the UCLA Bruins in the Elite Eight, 51-49. To the Bruins’ credit, they had a season of a lifetime, entering the Final Four as an 11-seed. The Wolverines had high expectations going into the tournament, but ultimately it wasn’t meant to be. They weren’t making shots they normally would and while they tried to keep themselves in the game, the Bruins had enough of an edge to move on. While the last season didn’t go as planned, there is a lot to be excited about heading into this season.
A lot of questions surrounded the seniors, Eli Brooks and Isaiah Livers, regarding who would return given their extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic. Livers opted not to come back and headed to the draft upon his return from foot surgery. The Kalamazoo native went on to get drafted in the second round with the 42nd pick by the Detroit Pistons, much to the joy of Michigan fans.
Brooks opted to rejoin the team once more and will serve as a critical piece for the upcoming season. Brooks, with his thorough experience on championship level teams and seniority, should lead the charge for this young Wolverine team.
Forward Franz Wagner, a fan-favorite given his versatility and relation to Moritz Wagner, also headed to the draft. Wagner was taken in the first round to the Orlando Magic, going No. 8 overall, tying one of the highest picks of a Michigan player since 2000 (Nik Stauskas 2014, Jamal Crawford 2000). He will be joins his brother in Orlando along with former Michigan player Ignas Brazdeikis.
There was some talk about center Hunter Dickinson heading off to the NBA after Michigan’s run in the tournament. He did confirm his intent on heading to the draft during the early offseason through social media, so fans had to wait with baited breath for his final decision. While the star center did test the waters, he ultimately announced his return to Ann Arbor for his sophomore season.
While Michigan didn’t have a player transfer out, they were actively looking in the portal and collected point guard DeVante’ Jones from Coastal Carolina. Last season, Jones won the Sun Belt Player of the Year. His last season averages were 19.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game. He came in as a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility and should fit in well.
A lot of buzz in the offseason surrounded the arrival of Michigan’s 2021 recruiting class, ranked No. 2 in the country and No. 1 in the Big Ten. The freshman hit up Camp Sanderson with the rest of the team over the summer, providing the first glimpse into this exciting 2021 recruiting class. Among the new faces are a pair of five1stars, Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate, four-stars Kobe Bufkin, Frankie Collins and Isaiah Barnes, and three-star Will Tschetter. This class has widespread, versatile talent and everyone is eager to see what Juwan Howard can do with this loaded roster.
Michigan didn’t have a turbulent offseason, and the lack of transfers shows Michigan is the place to be when it comes to men’s basketball. With a lot of fresh, new talent and knowledgeable upperclassmen, this Michigan team is going to be fun to watch. Until then, freshen up on the roster and we’ll see you in four weeks!