A year ago, the Michigan men’s basketball team lost four players — one to the NBA and three to transfers — and coach John Beilein had to rebuild part of the team that would eventually win the Big Ten Tournament and make the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen.
But the Wolverines’ success has brought about some changes in the current makeup of the team, which may force Beilein to rebuild in Ann Arbor once again.
The Daily breaks down all of Michigan’s roster movement so far this offseason and potential moves the Wolverines have been linked to so far.
Leaving the team is a class of five seniors in guards Derrick Walton Jr. and Andrew Dakich, forward Mark Donnal and wings Sean Lonergan and Zak Irvin.
Walton and Irvin played significant minutes as four-year starters and will both look to get their names called when the NBA Draft comes around. Irvin was invited and will attend the Portsmouth Invitational, an NBA Draft showcase, this weekend.
Currently, in multiple mock drafts, neither is projected to be picked.
Donnal and Dakich each have a year left of eligibility after Dakich redshirted this past season and Donnal redshirted his freshman year. Both are looking at graduate transfer opportunities to play one more season of college basketball.
The Almost Departed:
Monday, both sophomore forward Moritz Wagner and redshirt sophomore forward DJ Wilson declared for the NBA Draft. The stipulation is that neither hired an agent and returning to the Wolverines is a possibility.
Both big men likely played themselves into the NBA Draft with their exceptional play in the postseason, showcased by Wilson averaging almost 16 points per game and Wagner putting up a career-high 26 points against Louisville.
The duo both showed an ability to stretch the floor with 3-point shooting, and it’s a trait that has made Wilson and Wagner an attractive option for NBA teams.
The declared draftees will have until May 24th to make a decision about whether to stay in the NBA Draft or not.
The Wolverines currently have three players in their incoming freshman class in guards Eli Brooks and Jordan Poole and forward Isaiah Livers. Poole is the highest ranked of the three, coming in at No. 88 nationally, and will look to push junior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rakhman at the ‘2’ for playing time.
Brooks will slide into the position freshman point guard Xavier Simpson played this year as backup point guard, but could push for starting minutes if Simpson struggles.
“Eli (can) definitely (play) point and ‘2’,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “Jordan can play probably more ‘2’ or ‘3’, but could be a back up point in time. He’s got to work on some areas there, but he can pass.”
Livers recently won Mr. Basketball in Michigan and will add depth to the Wolverines’ depleted frontcourt.
Michigan is also still in the running for 5-star forward Mohammad Bamba. Bamba, who is the No. 3 prospect in the country, has shown himself to be dominant inside with a long wingspan that makes him versatile on both ends of the floor. Additionally, the 6-foot-11 forward has shown the ability to shoot from beyond the arc.
Currently, Bamba is down to four schools: Duke, Kentucky, Michigan and Texas.
If Bamba decides on another school, the Wolverines could turn to 6-foot-4 guard Shakwon Barrett. Barrett has not been offered a scholarship yet.
With Wilson and Wagner both leaving, their departures will leave two more roster spots open. One way Beilein could fill the void is with graduate transfers who would be able to play right away.
Michigan has been linked with three such players so far in Pittsburgh guard Cameron Johnson, Wright State forward Mark Alstork and Howard guard James Daniel III.
Johnson averaged 11.9 points per game last season with the Panthers and has a long list of suitors including Ohio State, Arizona and South Carolina, among a multitude of other schools. Johnson would have two years of eligibility left.
Alstork put up 19 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game last season at Wright State, and there is some familiarity with assistant coach Billy Donlon, who coached the Rowdy Raiders last season.
Alstork has emphasized that he is focusing on the NBA Draft first. But if that doesn’t pan out, he will go the graduate transfer route. And if he does, he’ll have a full list of interested teams from across the country looking for his ability.
Daniel is the most recent player Michigan has been linked to. While Daniel missed all but two games of the 2016-17 season, including a loss in Ann Arbor back in early November, he has a proven record. During the 2015-16 season, Daniel led the NCAA with 27 points per game.
Daniel is down to a final four schools of DePaul, Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee.