After yesterday’s loss to Vanderbilt in the NIT, the 2022-23 season ended for the Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball team. As we’ve seen from programs all over the country, talented players enter the transfer portal as soon as the season is over, and Michigan just suffered its first portal entry of the year.
Reserve guard Isaiah Barnes has entered the transfer portal, as reported by On3’s Joe Tipton.
Barnes appeared in 17 games over two seasons. He was redshirted in 2021-22 and played 6.1 minutes per game this past season, averaging 1.1 points and 1.1 rebounds. To put that into perspective, that’s a little more than half as much as Kobe Bufkin played his freshman season.
Out of all the scholarship players on Michigan’s roster that could have transferred, Barnes is probably the least surprising. He got a lot of DNP’s this season, didn’t get much of an opportunity to show off his game and was buried on the depth chart, even on a team that badly needed another 2 or 3 in the second half of the year. He was kind of forced to play the 2 with how injuries transformed this roster, and he definitely seems to be more of a small forward long-term.
Playing at the legendary Simeon High School in Chicago, Barnes was a four-star recruit with solid upside who was viewed as a great athlete who can defend multiple positions and develop into a trusted role player on offense. But he struggled on defense and never really contributed much on offense outside of the occasional three-pointer. His career-high came in the loss to Kentucky, when he scored six points off two made threes.
I do feel bad for him; much like Bufkin’s freshman year, he always seemed nervous playing out there, worried to make a mistake with the short leash Juwan Howard gave him. I hope he thrives at a school that will give more playing time and more forgiveness when it comes to making mistakes. I think he could thrive at a mid-major program.
As for the current roster, the Wolverines desperately need more guards, either from high school recruits or guys in the transfer portal. That has only intensified with Barnes leaving.
The only guards on scholarship on the current roster are Dug McDaniel, Bufkin, Jaelin Llewellyn and Youssef Khayat, and Khayat is probably more of a small forward long-term. Bufkin could very well leave for the NBA, Llewellyn might miss the start of the season with his ACL injury — if he even returns to college for another year — and Khayat looked shaky in extended minutes in the NIT.
Michigan is getting a solid shooting guard in 2023 four-star George Washington III, but it would be wise to target at least one more guard in the transfer portal, if not two.