Countdown to College Basketball: #7 Michigan Wolverines

After winning a Big Ten regular-season title and making a trip to the Elite Eight, the answer is clear, Juwan Howard is one of the great coaches in College Basketball. In his short time, Howard has become one of the top coaches not only in the Big Ten but in College Basketball as well. While losing three starters isn’t an ideal way to start an offseason, the Wolverines add in one of the top recruiting classes and will mix that with an All-American in Hunter Dickinson. With this talented roster, the Wolverines will now be looking not only to chase down not only a Big Ten title but achieve a National title as well. 

The offense will look to run through Hunter Dickinson, who will have his eyes on being a Big Ten Player of the Year award and First Team All-American mention. Dickinson is a 7’1 big man that is already an elite post player, his finishing around the basket is beyond his years while he’s a good rebounder as well. Defensively, he needs to work on both speed and athleticism in order to improve as a defender, but what he gives up, he’ll get back on the offensive end. Dickinson is a good free-throw shooter as well, so it will be interesting to see if he tries to extend his range over the offseason, granted he doesn’t need to for him to be a great center. 

The Wolverines have a great backcourt with a program veteran in Eli Brooks, paired with Coastal Carolina transfer DeVante’ Jones. Brooks is a great glue guy, he’s a good shooter, passer, and tough defender, who guards the opponents lead guard. While Brooks’ stats don’t stand out as being a big factor, his presence and leadership, plus his ability to be a ball-handler and tough defender will help this team. DeVonte’ Jones will come in and co-run point guard responsibilities alongside Brooks, similar to what Mike Smith did a season ago. Jones is a 6’1 bulky guard that is a true scoring guard that can pass, while he’s a great defender, rebounder, and shooter. Look for Jones to be a second or third offensive option for this Wolverines team. 

The Wolverines also bring in two five-star recruits in Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate, who each will look to have a major role on this team. Houstan will start at the 3 for this team and be a major cog in the Wolverines offense. He’s a 6’7 wing that is a prolific shooter, he is great in a catch and shoot role, while his length and athleticism will allow him to be a good rebounder and defender as well. Diabate is rawer as a prospect, he’s a 6’9 forward that is an energetic athlete that should excel as a rebounder, defender, and shot-blocker, although he’s not a good scorer. 

Brandon Johns will likely start at the 4 for this team, he’s a 6’8 forward that is a solid defender, rebounder, and interior scorer, who knows and plays his role to the best. Johns will not necessarily be an elite players, but he’s also someone that when defenses forget about him, he will have a big game. Terrance Williams will fill a role as a switchable, high-upside defending wing, who should get more of a role this year with a full offseason. Kobe Bufkin is a 6’5 guard that should carve out a role as a scorer and looks to be a long-term piece on this roster as a scorer. While point guard play is good this year, Four-Star guard Frankie Collins looks to get some run as a backup point guard, but him developing as a lead guard will be key going forward. 

This Michigan team is one of the more complete teams in College Basketball this season, as they have a great starting five, that will play well together, and have a good chance to win a National Championship. Inside, Hunter Dickinson will need to be the anchor for this team, he’ll dominate many games in the post, but him improving his range, and passing ability will unlock more offensive potential. The Wolverines will also surround Dickinson with at least three really good shooters in Houstan, Brooks, and Jones, making this roster look very similar to the one Michigan had a season ago. 

Dickinson should develop a little bit this year, while he probably will remain in the post, he should be both a more efficient scorer, while he will look to pass more often. While losing a Defensive great like Franz Wagner will hurt on that end, Caleb Houstan provides a little more scoring than what Wagner provided, while he also has Isaiah Livers-like range. Defensively, this team should be around the same as a year ago, while Wagner was an elite defender, Johns will be a plus defender, while Jones is better than Mike Smith on that end. The question is whether that is enough for this Wolverines team to make the Final Four or win a National Championship, we’ll have to wait and see but the Wolverines should be in a position to achieve that success.

Projected Rotation 

PG: Eli Brooks

SG: DeVonte’ Jones

SF: Caleb Houstan

PF: Brandon Johns

C: Hunter Dickinson 

B1: Moussa Diabate

B2: Terrance Williams 

B3: Frankie Collins

B4: Kobe Bufkin

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