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Michigan’s options at the power forward spot for 2023-24

This was the position Michigan could never really solve last year, and it could be a problem again.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 2022-23 Michigan men’s basketball team failed to make the NCAA tournament last year, and not having consistent contributions from the 4 spot was one reason why the Wolverines struggled this past season.

A lot of talent has the left the Wolverines this off-season, and losing out on the Olivier Nkamhoua sweepstakes is a brutal blow for this roster, but they do have more options at power forward this season. Michigan will be relying on a lot of young players in 2023-24, and finding consistent production at that position would help out quite a bit.

Let’s break down Michigan’s options at the 4 spot for next season, as of early June. Juwan Howard still has three scholarship spots open for the roster, but with there only being a few weeks before teams report to campus for practice, the Wolverines are running out of time.

Terrance Williams II

2022-23 stats: 6.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists in 26.6 minutes per game, 38.5% from three, 25.0 percent from three, 75.0 from free throw line

After being one of Michigan’s best bench players in his sophomore season, Williams took a step back in his junior season. While he did start at the 4 in 26 of Michigan’s 32 games, his efficiency cratered and he saw his minutes go down as the year went along before he finally lost that starting spot.

Williams struggled from deep last season, only knocking down one of every four threes he took. It seemed forced when he tried to create his own shot. He reminded me of 2021-22 Brandon Johns Jr. in a lot of ways, as if he missed his first few shots, you wouldn’t hear much from him all game long.

To be optimistic, I still think he’s a solid defender and one of Michigan’s better post defenders. As you can see from his shot chart below (stats are courtesy of @CBBAnalytics on Twitter), he was an above average finisher at the rim and was pretty efficient off a small sample of shots on the baseline.

Williams has a lot to prove to earn minutes his senior year, as he needs to get more efficient from three — and on offense in general — to carve out more playing time for himself.

He’s one of the longest-tenured players in the Howard era, and he’ll likely be a leader on this team after being a captain last season I’d think he gets at least 20 minutes per game, and maybe even starts a few games because of knowing Howard’s system. But if Williams continues to struggle offensively, he’ll likely see his minutes dwindle with more options at the 4 this season.

Will Tschetter

2022-23 stats: 2.3 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists in 10.7 minutes per game, 49 percent from the field, 25.0 percent from three, 58.8% from the free throw line

Tschetter was a key contributor for the Wolverines last season, becoming a key role player who brought a spark without stuffing the stat sheet.

The Stewartville, Minnesota, native was pretty solid in small spurts, and earned more than a few starts in conference play when Williams was injured. He got exposed by bigger defenders at times, but he did start at the 4 in eight of Michigan’s last nine games, including in the conference tournament and Michigan’s first NIT game.

Tschetter said on Defend The Block this spring that he gained a lot of confidence last season, but he still wants to get better with the ball in hands, get stronger and become more of a leader.

Much like Williams, he’ll need to get better from three this season. He never really created his own shot and never scored more than seven points in a game last season, so I’m excited to see if he improves offensively with more minutes to settle in. If he gets better from three, I would like Michigan to experiment with him at the 5 in a five-out lineup at some point this season.

Tray Jackson

2022-23 stats: 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 rebounds, 0.2 assists in 14.6 minutes per game, 46.8 percent from field, 37.5 percent from three, 70.0 percent from free throw line

Transferring in from Seton Hall, Jackson was more efficient from three than Williams or Tshetter, excelling from the left side of the floor, as we can see from his shot chart.

He’s mostly been a bench contributor his collegiate career who can excel in short spurts, putting up double-digit points in a hurry while guarding opposing forwards well. He’s the tallest out of this group at 6-foot-9, and he may be able to play the 5 when the Wolverines are in foul trouble. He could be great in as a screener who could pop out and hit a three.

At his absolute floor, I expect Jackson to be one of the first guys off the bench who can shoot threes and guard bigs. If he excels in that role, I could see his minutes going up, as he could excel playing alongside a big like Reed who can command attention in the paint.

Jackson has three seasons of college basketball under his belt, and that experience will come in handy on this young team. I expect him to be a valuable player for the Wolverines off the bench, who could be on the floor to close games if he’s knocking down threes.