College basketball is nearly upon us. Michigan’s season technically begins tonight with an exhibition game against Ferris State, but the regular season begins on Monday with a home contest against Purdue Fort Wayne.
With the season just around the corner, here’s what I project to be the starting lineup for the Michigan Wolverines:
PG: Jaelin Llewellyn
SG: Kobe Bufkin
SF: Jett Howard
PF: Terrance Williams II
C: Hunter Dickinson
There are a couple no-brainers here: Hunter Dickinson is an All-American center who is expected to take on a larger role both as a scorer and as a vocal leader this season. With DeVante’ Jones and Frankie Collins gone, Princeton transfer Jaelin Llewellyn will start at the 1 and could be Michigan’s best point guard over the last few seasons.
After playing a key role off the bench the last two seasons, I think Williams II has earned the right to at least start the year at the 4, similar to Brandon Johns Jr. last season. T-Will has proven to be a versatile player who can guard multiple positions and hit big shots. That said, the 4 is arguably the deepest position for Michigan right now so if he struggles, I would expect Michigan to try out Youssef Khayat or Will Tschetter (or going small with Jett Howard or Joey Baker).
That leaves the 2 and the 3 spots, which I would expect to go to Kobe Bufkin and Jett Howard, respectively. Bufkin was in the gym all summer and is expected to play a much bigger role as a slasher and a solid on-ball defender this season. Howard slides in at the 3, partially because there’s not a more experienced option there and because he could be the best three-point shooter on the roster.
First guys off the bench: Dug McDaniel, Tarris Reed Jr., Joey Baker, Jace Howard
I expect the first two guys off the bench to be McDaniel and Baker, once the latter is fully recovered from offseason hip surgery. Both players bring three-point shooting off the bench, with Baker being one of the few guys with more than two years of college basketball experience and McDaniel being the darling of the preseason who Juwan Howard said will share the floor with Llewellyn at times.
Reed Jr. will spell Dickinson at the 5 and could see more minutes at the floor if he can at least knock down a 15-footer consistently. Jace Howard is the closest thing Michigan has to a 3-and-D guy, and he could be a spark plug off the bench.
Question marks: Youssef Khayat, Will Tschetter, Isaiah Barnes, Gregg Glenn
Based on how the roster is currently laid out, I’d expect one or two of these guys to get some playing time.
Tschetter is a stretch 4 who could be a valuable piece if Williams II or Dickinson get in foul trouble. Barnes is probably the best pure athlete on the roster and can guard multiple positions.
Khayat could get minutes at the 3 or 4, and Glenn probably slides in at the 4. I think Khayat is more likely to play due to his positional versatility and with how smooth he is in transition. With how these guys are currently positioned on the depth chart, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both get redshirted.