The Michigan Wolverines’ guard rotation is about to get a whole lot younger with Eli Brooks out of eligibility and DeVante’ Jones declaring for the NBA Draft. The Wolverines now need to replace their starting backcourt from this past season.
Freshmen Frankie Collins and Kobe Bufkin played sparingly, but both players will likely be asked to step up in place of Jones and Brooks, respectively.
As we’ll cover over the offseason, Michigan has already been active in the transfer portal. There very well may be another transfer at the guard spot next season, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll break down guys who are either already on Michigan’s roster or recruits who have committed to come to Ann Arbor next season.
Let’s get into what Michigan fans can expect from the guard position in 2022-23.
The starting point guard job is Collins’ to lose, as he proved in the Colorado State game he can step up in big moments and lead the Wolverines to victory.
Collins has an extremely quick first step and showed he can win off the dribble to get to the rim. He also became way more controlled on his drives as the season went along, getting bigs involved and passing well off drives toward the end of the season.
Collins was one of Michigan’s best on-ball defenders this season; it is clear how incredibly hard he works at that end of the floor. Once he did secure a steal or get an outlet pass, he did a great job pushing the pace and helping the Wolverines thrive in transition.
He needs to improve his jump shot; it was obvious he didn’t have much faith in it. He attempted fewer threes than Hunter Dickinson and hoisted only four more threes than Moussa Diabate.
If he continues to refine his game and gets more confidence in his jump shot, Michigan’s ceiling for next season only gets higher.
It’s hard to properly evaluate how good Bufkin can be based on this past season alone.
The Grand Rapids native and McDonald’s All-American showed in high school he’s a talented, versatile scorer. But with the Wolverines, he seemed to have a pretty short leash this season, only averaging 10.8 minutes per game and mostly playing in 2-3 minute bursts.
He has room to grown defensively and was a little late on rotations this season, but he proved to a capable shooter and was able to create his own shot more than a few times. He also did well in transition.
Bufkin’s best game came against Iowa, when he had 10 points off the bench in a February win that greatly helped improve Michigan’s tournament resume.
In that game, he earned a few tough buckets in the first half and had a steal leading to a dunk to put the Wolverines up 10 with four minutes to play.
Bufkin is likely to see his minutes go up next season and may even earn himself a starting role. It should be interesting what he does in that increased capacity. Hopefully having more time on the floor to learn from his mistakes will help him immensely.
The only guard in Michigan’s 2022 commit class, Knasir “Dug” McDaniel is a tradition point guard who can facilitate on offense while staying aggressive on defense.
Ranked as the ninth-best point guard in his class per the 247Sports composite, McDaniel has excellent court vision by speeding past his defender and looking to pass as soon as his driving lane is closed. His timing on those passes is already impressive.
If he doesn’t get to the rim himself and can’t find an open teammate, he can finish with a nifty little floater. His jump shot clearly improved in his senior season as well.
As I broke down last summer, the thing Michigan fans will love the most about McDaniel’s game is the energy and confidence he plays with. He’s a lightning rod who celebrates steals and great passes, and that can be contagious on a young team.
I would expect, at least to start off the year, McDaniel’s role will be similar to Collins’ from this past season — one of the first guys off the bench who can run the second unit and see extended time if he’s cooking.
The future is bright for Michigan’s guards. Let’s just hope all these young guys mesh well and can help lead the Wolverines to more postseason success.