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Tarris Reed Jr. discusses excitement for next season, personal improvements

Reed Jr. recently appeared on the Defend The Block podcast to talk about the offseason and looking forward to next year.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Wisconsin Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been about a month since we last saw the Michigan men’s basketball team on the court, and a lot has changed in that month. There’s been quite a bit of roster turnover; as of April 19, five scholarship players, including the three leading scorers from last season, have either decided to go pro or have entered the transfer portal.

There will be a lot of new players in Ann Arbor next season, but one of the familiar faces coming back is center Tarris Reed Jr. The sophomore big man recently spoke on the Defend The Block podcast, and he clearly sounds excited for next season.

“Looking at the new roster now, we’re going to be pretty nice next year,” Reed Jr. said. “I’m looking forward to having a great (season) next year.”

Right now, Reed Jr. is focused on finishing classes and recovering before training this offseason. He plans to stay at Michigan this summer to focus on his craft.

“I talked to my father, he said it would be best for me to stay (here in Ann Arbor), work and grind in the offseason,” he said. “I have all the resources and tools here, so I can take advantage while I’m here in Ann Arbor. That’s the plan for this summer.”

This offseason, Reed Jr. also wants to explore the state, maybe visit Mackinac Island and get away from basketball a little. When he’s not checking out the beauty around this state, he’ll be working with Michigan trainer Jon Sanderson to cut some weight and get faster.

He doesn’t want to rush into things, but he implied he will be going hard this summer.

“(I) definitely want to get more athletic. I’d say I’m pretty athletic, but I have to shed some baby fat, get more cut and be more athletic, be way more dynamic and explosive on the court and take my game to the next level,” Reed Jr. said. “I started last week, and it’s going to pretty good, but I’m still trying to rehab and make sure my body is 100% good from the previous season. Since I’m staying here (this summer), we’re in no rush; we’re going to take our time so when I get fully healthy, we’re going to hit the ground running.”

Reed Jr. is not your average big man on the defensive end. He didn’t just protect the rim last season — he showcased his speed and positional fluidity, proving to be quick enough to stay in front of some of the best guards and wings in the conference.

Looking at the current state of Michigan’s front court depth, he’ll likely be in a starting role next season. Unlike lineups with Hunter Dickinson, lineups with Reed Jr. should be able to switch everything.

“I would say I was most confident in my defensive abilities,” he said. “Being able to switch and guard 1-5, contain a point guard in front of me, switch ball screens, hedge ball screens, block shots off the rim.”

Reed Jr. is pretty confident in his defensive abilities, but he said a main focus this offseason is getting more confident on the offensive end. He wants to be a “complete package player,” — last season, he played like a bull in a china shop at times, rebounding and defending with tenacity and playing really fast.

He knows he needs to focus on slowing down working on the finesse part of the game, saying he wants to get better and finishing around the rim, learning from one of the best centers in college basketball.

“Playing behind Hunter and watching him this year, it really helped me,” Reed Jr. said. “I’m glad I took a year to watch and really idolize his game. His touch around the rim is amazing, it’s so elite, that’s one thing I can take to my next game. In order for me to be a great player, I have to have great touch around the rim, so that’s something I’m really focusing on this offseason.”

Reed Jr. and the rest of his teammates were disappointed in missing the tournament, as he clearly seemed irritated talking about watching teams he faced this season playing in March Madness. He realizes there are lofty goals playing at Michigan, but he’s said this team is going to work hard to achieve them.

“The season didn’t go the way the way we wanted to last year, but we’re competitive,” he said. “I know that we’re going to work, we’re going to grind, we’re going to scratch, we’re going to be the toughest team on that court next year because of what happened. No one wants to miss March Madness — we have to lock in from day one in order to make that tournament and go deep in the tournament.”