May 3, 2016
ANN ARBOR — Even though Michigan basketball is over six weeks removed from a season-ending loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament, college basketball’s offseason is still in its relative infancy.
There’s still much that can, and will, happen. The wave of transfers, coaching changes, early NBA entries and recruiting chaos may have already crested it, but it’s still flowing.
At Michigan, coach John Beilein has said goodbye to two transfers (Aubrey Dawkins, Ricky Doyle), parted ways with graduate transfer Spike Albrecht, lost two assistant coaches to head-coaching opportunities and currently holds one open scholarship for next season.
With that as the preface, Beilein repeatedly said on Monday night, “May is going to be a very interesting.”
Such a statement could play itself out in a number of ways. According to Beilein, further attrition isn’t entirely ruled out and the possibility of adding a graduate transfer or 2016 recruit is still stirring.
Speaking prior to Monday’s Ufer Quarterback Club banquet at Barton Hills Golf Course in Ann Arbor, Beilein said, “I think the roster is still evolving.”
The natural selection, in this instance, would be adding depth at the wing position for next season. With Dawkins’ transfer and Caris LeVert’s graduation, Michigan is left with Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Zak Irvin, Duncan Robinson, Kameron Chatman, and incoming freshman Ibi Watson at the two-through-four positions — five bodies for three rotation spots.
The need for an additional option is glaring. The question that arises, though, is whether a graduate transfer — an instant impact solution with experience — can be identified and recruited or if U-M can uncover an unsigned high school graduate.
For the first option, Beilein said he’s interested in finding a grad transfer that “fits the style and fits Michigan.” He noted that the grad transfer market currently amounts to free agency and that, in May, “as people finish classes, all the sudden, a lot of people change their minds.”
If that is found, it will be a player that Michigan has yet to be linked with publicly. The program previously pursued Columbia grad transfer Grant Mullins, but saw him commit to California. To date, U-M’s rumor mill is dormant in the grad transfer market.
As for the second option, Beilein said the addition of a 2016 prospect is not out of the question. Michigan has previously found gold in some unsigned high school seniors — notably LeVert, Albrecht and Abdur-Rahkman — and is familiar with the territory.
Be it via transfer or freshman, what’s clear is that, if an addition is made, it will be at the wing position.
“That’s a big position that we’d like to fill,” Beilein said. “A guy that can get buckets off the bench and guard people.”
The need for a wing is the cited stance for Michigan’s lack of interest in bringing Albrecht back for a fifth season. The former point guard, coming off an injury-plagued senior season, resulting in a medical redshirt, was granted a release from his scholarship after the season.
While some public sentiment has called for Albrecht’s return to U-M, that idea was ruled out internally long ago.
“The positions we’re looking for in a grad transfer are definitely not at point guard,” Beilein said. “That wouldn’t make sense. That would be like having three quarterbacks.”
And speaking of a crowded roster, while Beilein has previously said that he doesn’t anticipate any more attrition, he noted Monday that there are no guarantees. Asked if he expects full retention of his remaining scholarship players, “Things happen in May. We’re working on all those things.”
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