The Michigan roster’s most notable trait is its fluidity. Of the 11 players listed below, almost all can and will slot in at multiple positions throughout the season, and John Beilein will vary lineups constantly. Derrick Walton Jr. and Spike Albrecht, for instance, are sure to see the floor at the same time, and Kameron Chatman could see minutes at four different positions by season’s end. Regardless, here’s the Daily’s stab at a depth chart for the 2014-15 Michigan men’s basketball team.
Derrick Walton Jr., sophomore, six feet, 185 lbs.
Walton showed flashes of brilliance in his freshman season, and is widely expected to show increased maturity in ball distribution and orchestrating the Michigan offense in transition. His inexperience last year masked the fact that he can be an electric player. He can shoot, he has handles and he can finish in transition, all traits Wolverine fans can expect to see more of this year.
Spike Albrecht, junior, 5-foot-11, 175 lbs.
Albrecht is the only player in the country who could come from nowhere to score 17 points in a national championship game and still be overlooked two years later. As an upperclassman, Albrecht is well established as a locker-room presence, and he’s underrated as a passer and offensive facilitator. He’ll get major minutes this season, even if Walton’s improvement is greater than expected.
Caris LeVert, junior, 6-foot-7, 200 lbs.
LeVert has come a long way from his freshman year. The off-guard was skin and bone when he arrived on campus in 2012, and was widely expected to redshirt. LeVert forced the issue, though, and improved in his first two seasons to the point that he briefly considered leaving for the NBA after his sophomore campaign. But he’s back, and is widely expected to carry the load for the Wolverines and make noise on a national level.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, freshman, 6-foot-4, 175 lbs.
Originally referred to as “MAAR,” the Wolverines have settled on “Rahk” as a suitably efficient label for the only player in the history of the Lehigh Valley Conference to be named to Pennsylvania’s all-state team four times. Rahkman is multidimensional as a scorer, able to drain the 3-pointer and finish at the rim, and like the rest of Michigan’s class, he doesn’t suffer from a shortage of talent. Consistency will dictate Abdur-Rahkman’s participation or lack thereof, but if LeVert, Walton and Albrecht improve as expected, minutes might be tough to come by for the roster’s fourth true guard.
Zak Irvin, sophomore, 6-foot-6, 215 lbs.
Irvin proved last year that he can shoot, but needed to add a dimension or two in order to become the dynamic force Michigan needs to replace Nik Stauskas — from behind the arc and also at the rim. If Irvin’s physicality and ball-handling progress, he’ll continue to see major minutes and be a key cog in the Wolverines’ offense.
Aubrey Dawkins, freshman, 6-foot-6, 190 lbs.
The second spot at swingman is home to yet another talented freshman who will have to fight tooth and nail to draw minutes away from the likes of Irvin and Kameron Chatman. Dawkins has the size to compete at a forward position and could even earn a few minutes at shooting guard, but his competition is stiff.
Kameron Chatman, freshman, 6-foot-7, 210 lbs.
Chatman is a major X-factor going into the season for the Wolverines. As much hype as he has received throughout his recruitment and first months on campus, nobody seems to know where he’ll play, or how often. He seems to fit in best as a small forward, but Irvin has a solid hold on the swing and Chatman is simply too athletic to sit on the bench. Power forward it is.
D.J. Wilson, freshman, 6-foot-9, 220 lbs.
The exercise of assigning Wilson a position is a bit silly, because he’s capable of playing almost anywhere on the floor. But Wilson is big, athletic and capable of shooting from range — if he’s a natural fit anywhere, it’s power forward. His consistency will put him on the court or maroon him on the bench, so Wilson will need a strong showing in the early weeks of nonconference play. If he produces, Beilein will have reason to keep him on the court frequently come Big Ten play in January.
Mark Donnal, redshirt freshman, 6-foot-9, 240 lbs.
The race to play the low post has seen a clear frontrunner emerge in the form of Donnal, who is embarking upon his second year in Ann Arbor following a redshirt year. Donnal’s grasp of John Beilein’s offensive system and ability to crash the boards against taller and stronger opposition will be critical if Michigan expects to defend its conference title.
Ricky Doyle, freshman, 6-foot-9, 245 lbs.
An ankle tweak and other minor, undisclosed setbacks killed any chance Doyle had at cracking the starting five in his first few games with the Wolverines. But the physical big man’s talent is substantial enough that he’ll keep Donnal on his toes throughout the year, and Michigan will need the depth in the post.
Max Bielfeldt, senior, 6-foot-7, 245 lbs.
The team’s lone senior, Bielfeldt’s role as a leader is likely more important than his role on the court. Though he has spent two straight seasons on the cusp of major minutes, Bielfeldt’s turning point has yet to come. His experience alone could turn him into a major on-court contributor, but Donnal and Doyle’s collective talent and higher upsides leave Bielfeldt with a steep hill to climb if he wants off the bench.