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Revisiting Michigan basketball’s scholarship situation heading into 2021-22

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The Wolverines will have a bit of extra help on their roster.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Texas Southern at Michigan Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Juwan Howard and the Michigan Wolverines are searching the transfer portal again. The Wolverines struck gold by adding Chaundee Brown and Mike Smith last offseason and both became significant contributors to the team. They hope to do the same again, as they have reached out to guards Sahvir Wheeler and DeVante’ Jones.

The fluidity of the scholarship situation has caused a need for the coaching staff to be aggressive for the second straight year. Michigan is likely to lose its top three scorers from this past season and has only one guard with extensive experience.

Let’s take a look at the scholarship situation and a few different scenarios for the Michigan basketball program.

Where we are at now

The Wolverines have 13 scholarships to fill yearly, but things are a bit different this year.

Isaiah Livers, Brown, Smith and Austin Davis all decided to move on. As seniors, they all would have been given the ability to return for another season because of an extra year of eligibility given by the NCAA due to the pandemic.

The only player to take advantage of that was Eli Brooks. His return allows a one-time NCAA rule that allows for an extension to the scholarship situation at Michigan. According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, the Wolverines will be given a 14th scholarship to utilize with Brooks sticking around.

Brooks’ scholarship will not count against the 13 spots they have available. If you remove the five seniors on scholarship from 2020-21 and add the open slot they left from a year ago, there are six scholarships to fill.

Coincidentally, there are six incoming freshmen in the 2021 recruiting class — five-star forward Caleb Houstan, five-star forward/center Moussa Diabate, four-star guard Kobe Bufkin, four-star guard Frankie Collins, four-star wing Isaiah Barnes and three-star forward Will Tschetter will round out the team as it currently lies.

Here is how it lines up by class:

  • Freshman: Caleb Houstan, Moussa Diabate, Kobe Bufkin, Frankie Collins, Isaiah Barnes, Will Tschetter (6)
  • Sophomores: Hunter Dickinson, Terrance Williams, Zeb Jackson, Jace Howard. (4)
  • Juniors: Franz Wagner (1)
  • Seniors: Brandon Johns Jr., Adrien Nunez (2)
  • Bonus scholarship spot: Eli Brooks (1)

TOTAL: 14

Scenarios where a spot opens up

In all likelihood, Wagner has played his last game in college. He’s a projected first-round pick and it seems like he will be going pro. Wagner tested the NBA waters last offseason before returning to Ann Arbor, but this year it feels like that won’t be the case.

Another guy who could look into the NBA is Dickinson. He has graded out as an undrafted prospect in the early going, but all it takes is a single team to fall in love. Dickinson has a lot to work on to make it to the next level, but he is an enticing player with impressive size and was the best player on a great team last year.

When you are an upperclassman at a program that is bringing in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, you could be in jeopardy of losing playing time. With how easy it is to transfer in today’s college game, anyone could make a last-second decision to move on. That always leaves the possibility that a surprise transfer could come. Think David DeJulius last offseason.

Howard should anticipate having at least one open scholarship slot available after Wagner announces he is going or, which we still expect. That is why we see the Wolverines making the push for some of the big names on the portal today. With the incredible success they had with transfers last season we will likely continue to see Michigan try and replicate that.