Michigan has struggled to find the bottom of the net from deep this season. After losing some of its best shooters from last season in Isaiah Livers, Franz Wagner, Chaundee Brown and Mike Smith, the team three-point percentage has dropped from an efficient 38.1 percent to a less-than-ideal 28.3 percent this season.
Michigan could use another guard, not only to add depth but also to take a crack at upping that three-point percentage for the Wolverines. That need for three-point shooting is what makes Zeb Jackson’s return so timely.
A Michigan spokesperson says Zeb Jackson is ready and available, and was ready and available during the two games in Vegas. Did not play because he hasn't had much practice time.— Von Lozon (@von_lozon) November 23, 2021
Jackson didn’t play a whole lot last season due to a crowded backcourt featuring all the guys mentioned above. There just wasn’t a lot of playing time for Jackson to have. After playing limited minutes last season, you would hope to see Jackson progress in his sophomore year and become a legitimate part of the rotation.
As I wrote in my player profile of Jackson last month, my biggest goal for him this season is being able to establish some sort of confidence by playing himself into Michigan’s rotation, with the Wolverines potentially relying on him to provide a spark off the bench.
Swagger was a huge part of his game coming out of high school, when he had more than a few highlight dunks and step-back threes while using his quick first step to get to the lane and find open teammates.
Arguably Jackson’s biggest confidence boost last season came in Michigan’s opening round game in the NCAA Tournament, when he hit two big threes in the first half to help get the Wolverine lead to 17 in the blowout win.
As of this writing, Michigan hasn’t officially announced Jackson will play against Tarleton State, but a home game against a 1-4 team is the best time to ease the sophomore guard back into the rotation.
Michigan’s deep shooting woes and the inability of guys not named Eli Brooks or Hunter Dickinson to create open shots has made the offense look stagnant at times. Jackson should be able to alleviate those shooting problems, and being able to create his own shot off the bench would help Michigan immensely.
You can never have enough depth and scoring off the bench in college basketball. If Jackson can establish himself as a solid part of the rotation by the time conference play rolls around, he could help with some of Michigan’s offensive woes as the year goes along.