Following admissions hiccup, Nojel Eastern will not join Michigan
For the Michigan men’s basketball team, Wednesday delivered yet another hiccup in an already bumpy offseason.
Just a month after his surprise commitment to the Wolverines, Purdue transfer guard Nojel Eastern announced that he will no longer be heading to Ann Arbor.
“I was not admitted to the University because of many credits that weren’t transferable because of my major,” Eastern said in a statement released via Twitter on Wednesday. “That is the only reason why I was not accepted. I say this to say that I will be reopening my recruitment process as a transfer. I want (to) thank Michigan and the entire staff and organization for trying to do everything in (their) power to get into the University of Michigan.”
The program never acknowledged his initial transfer announcement, and Eastern clarified that it fell through due to academic reasons. At Purdue, he was working toward a major in selling and sales management.
Michigan will no longer be welcoming one of the Big Ten’s best perimeter defenders to its roster. He originally intended to join coach Juwan Howard for his final remaining year of eligibility, but whether or not he’d be immediately eligible was unclear. He did not enter the transfer portal as a graduate transfer, meaning he would’ve had to sit out the 2020-21 season unless the NCAA granted him a waiver.
The Evanston, Ill. native was the 84th-ranked recruit coming out of high school in 2017 and while Eastern’s defense is held in high regard, his offensive game has never reached such heights. He averaged just 4.9 points and 4.0 rebounds as a junior last season, which was a step back from his 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds as a sophomore.
After the graduation of Zavier Simpson, the Wolverines could’ve turned to Eastern to help fill the void at point guard this coming year if he was ruled eligible. Though his shooting woes have prevented him from taking the next step as a college player, Eastern was effective as a ball handler in screen sets during his time at Purdue. The Boilermakers didn’t run a screen-heavy offense like Michigan, but it would’ve been interesting to see how Eastern’s limited effectiveness translated to a new system.
The Wolverines will still welcome two additional backcourt transfers in Columbia’s Mike Smith and Wake Forest’s Chaundee Brown. The latter is still going through the admissions process, and a decision has not yet been reached on his eligibility status for next season.
With Eastern no longer in the fold, the Wolverines have one remaining scholarship available for 2020-21. Howard can now pursue a high school reclassification candidate, turn back to the transfer portal or pocket the extra scholarship for now in order to spend it on a 2021 recruit.