With Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate deciding to stay in the NBA Draft, the Michigan men’s basketball team will look a whole lot different next season. When you include Eli Brooks and DeVante’ Jones also not being on the 2022-23 roster, Michigan will be without four of its five leading scorers from last season.
At this point, the Michigan Wolverines are used to dealing with a lot of turnover. U-M has been busy in the transfer portal and with Diabate and Houstan not returning to school, that does free up a few scholarships.
A large amount of turnover is not a new thing during Juwan Howard’s tenure. Last year’s squad had to adjust to losing five of the top seven scorers from the 2020-21 season. There will be a lot of new faces on Michigan’s roster next season. With that in mind, here’s what I project Michigan’s rotation to be next season.
PG: Jaelin Llewellyn
SG: Kobe Bufkin
SF: Jett Howard
PF: Terrance Williams II
C: Hunter Dickinson
Guys who could earn minutes off the bench: Jace Howard, Tarris Reed, Dug McDaniel, Isaiah Barnes, Will Tschetter, Gregg Glenn
Looking at this playing rotation, there is a lot of new faces and a lot of inexperienced guys, but there’s still plenty of talent to go around here. Thankfully for Michigan fans, All-American center Hunter Dickinson will be returning for his junior season.
He has led the team in scoring the past two years, has been the focal point on offense and has improved defensively while increasing his range and making more than a few threes last season.
(Sidebar: As a Michigan fanbase, we have collectively failed in not giving Dickinson a good nickname over the past few years. He’s the face of the team, he’s the best player, he needs a good nickname. He has his own merch with the phrase ‘Big Dickinson Energy’, for Christ sake. We have to be better, and give him a good nickname by the time we get to Big Ten play next year.)
Princeton transfer Jaelin Llwellyn (14.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists a game while shooting 38.6% from three last season) should be the starting point guard, and I’d expect Bufkin and Jett Howard to start alongside of him with the current roster.
A lot of Michigan fans, and even Dickinson, are hoping this is a breakout year for Bufkin. If he doesn’t show much progress in his sophomore year, expect Jett Howard to take some of his minutes at the 2. Jett might end up being Michigan’s best three-point shooter and with how he’s looked in certain summer showcases, he has the potential to grow into Michigan’s go-to guy late in games.
I’d expect Dug McDaniel to also get a few minutes off the bench to spell Llewellyn at the point guard spot, similar to what Frankie Collins did with DeVante’ Jones last season. He’s a bit undersized, but he’s got excellent passing skills and should be one of Michigan’s scrappiest on-ball defenders.
From a positional standpoint with the current roster, the 3 spot is the biggest question mark for Michigan. I’d expect Jace Howard and Barnes to get a few minutes there. If neither of them can find a good rhythm scoring-wise, Michigan should try out a few different 3-guard lineups.
With Diabate gone, I’d imagine Terrance Williams II will start at the 4, with Tschetter and Glenn potentially competing for minutes (although Glenn could be a redshirt candidate). I’d also like to see Michigan experiment with playing Dickinson and Reed together, as I think they could develop a good two-man game with Reed’s versatility and solid mid-range game.
We’ve only ever seen Williams II as a role player, coming off the bench in spurts, so it should be interesting to see how he looks with increased playing time.
Despite all the turnover from last season, Michigan’s still got a lot of young pieces. Hopefully it can find a way to put the pieces together and build off last year’s Sweet 16 run.