Michigan’s 2012 recruiting class is finally complete. Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary, Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert are all scheduled to set foot in Ann Arbor by the end of the month. John Beilein will replace the five players that graduated (2) or transferred (3) from last year’s roster with five freshmen replacements. Now the question is what sort of impact can that group – who will certainly be called upon to play a significant role – have on the 2012-13 season.
The variance of styles, recruiting rankings, stories and development trajectories is unique. Glenn Robinson III climbed from 3-star junior prospect to top 30 player. Mitch McGary rose from an intriguing Midwestern big man with some grade issues to the No. 2 player in the country, then subsequently slipped back down a few slots in the rankings. Nik Stauskas rose steadily throughout his career while Caris LeVert was a late bloomer that decommitted from the school that upset Michigan in the NCAA tournament. Mitch McGary committed on national television while Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert chose the Wolverines quietly on Friday evenings.
Their widely different backstories will come together as one class in Ann Arbor this June. A group that hypothetically could play as one unit, fielding a player at all five positions on the floor. But also a group that will account for five of 12 slots on next year’s roster.
Here’s a review of each incoming Wolverine, what to expect, what questions they have yet to answer and much more.
RSCI Consensus National Rank: 23rd
Quick Scout: Robinson is 6-foot-7 and has a complete game on the wing. He’ll be the best athlete on the Michigan roster when he sets foot on campus and can do a little bit of everything offensively.
Projected Position: Four/Three
Biggest Question Mark: The jumpshot. Robinson can do a whole lot offensively but he’s not a jumpshooter by trade. Where does that put him in Michigan’s offense?
Best Case: Robinson has the skill set to make the biggest impact of any Michigan freshman. If he adapts to the college game he has the ability to be a double digit scorer and one of Michigan’s top rebounders as a freshman. There are a lot of strong incoming freshmen but if Robinson has the ability to fight for an All-Freshman team slot.
Worst Case: Robinson struggles with his jumpshot and doesn’t find a role offensively. He makes an impact on the wing with his defense and rebounding but isn’t aggressive enough offensively.
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Bottom Line: Robinson will be the flex piece in John Beilein’s lineup. He has the ability to help Michigan go “small” by playing the four position but has the size and athleticism to hold his own at the spot. Robinson is the player that can battle against the likes of DeShaun Thomas, who Ohio State opts to play at the power forward position, but can also slide down to the three slot against teams that prefer to play two big men.
Quick Scout: Big bodied post player with above-average ball skills and passing ability. Plays hard, rebounds outside of his area, unselfish but needs to refine back-to-basket game.
RSCI Consensus National Rank: 26th
Projected Position: Five/Four
Biggest Question Mark: How does McGary fit into the Wolverine offense – does he play the four or the five? A determining factor in McGary’s position will be his fitness, something that was questioned at times throughout his final season at Brewster.
Best Case: 14 points and eight rebounds per game. McGary is the impact big man that John Beilein has sorely lacked. He changes the game on both the defensive and offensive glass, finishes at the bucket consistently and shows off a consistent 12 foot jumper.
Worst Case: Fouls limit McGary’s minutes as his over aggressive style catches up to him. His offensive game is limited by an inconsistent jump shot which forces him to play more minutes at the five. Nine points and eight rebounds per game.
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Bottom Line: McGary will make an instant impact by bolstering Michigan’s front line. He might not average 14 points per game, but he’ll rebound well and provide a physical presence in the middle. Expect McGary to start the year learning the five position and if that goes smoothly expand his game to the four.
Quick Scout: Pushing 6-foot-6, Stauskas is known for his shooting first and foremost. His improvement over the last year has been with the ability to attack the basket off the bounce – something that makes him significantly more dangerous when combined with his three point shooting abilities.
RSCI Consensus National Rank: 78th
Projected Position: Two/Three
Biggest Question Mark: Defense. Does Stauskas have the quickness and athleticism to defend Big Ten two guards?
Best Case: Stauskas steps in as Michigan’s resident sniper at the two position. He’s able to knock down 40% of his triples while holding his own as a defender and attacking the basket. There’s endless opportunity at the two slot and Stauskas takes advantage – averaging double digits and connecting on 40 percent of his triples.
Worst Case: The shooting ability is there but Stauskas isn’t able to provide the complete package for Michigan at the two – struggling to defend opposing guards at the Big Ten level. The three point shooting and scoring production is solid in bursts but inconsistent defense limits playing time.
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Bottom Line: Michigan graduated three of its top four three point shooters from a season ago and Stauskas is the most likely player to replace that three point production. He appears to have a significantly more complete game than Novak, Douglass or Vogrich when they set foot on campus but it remains to be seen what elements transfer to the college game.
Quick Scout: Rail thin guard reportedly a shade under 6-foot-5, LeVert emerged as a senior with his ability to hit big shots and shows a crafty handle and the ability to get in the lane.
Projected Position: Two
Biggest Question Mark: Can he gain enough strength and weight to survive a Big Ten season?
Best Case: LeVert demonstrates that he can play at the Big Ten level despite his slender frame and gives Michigan another option at the off guard. He’s an able three point shooter (~38%) and gives the Wolverines a solid 10-15 minutes per game while averaging around four or five points per contest. Perhaps Vogrich and Stauskas falter at the two slot, giving LeVert an opportunity to step in and make the most of the situation.
Worst Case: LeVert doesn’t have the strength to play at the Big Ten level. The lack of strength limits his freshman year playing time as Stauskas and Vogrich play the majority of the minutes at the off guard.
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Bottom Line: LeVert had a monster senior season and Michigan coaches were sold when they saw his film. This isn’t a matter of wasting or filling a scholarship, LeVert is a player that Michigan coaches feel can make an impact – at some point. There’s opportunity at the two position this season, but LeVert’s weight will be an issue.
Quick Scout: Steady lead guard that prefers to play the role of a facilitator. Not an overwhelming athlete but can run a team and hit open shots within the offense.
Projected Position: One
Biggest Question Mark: Is he a Big Ten player? Albrecht didn’t have other high major offers and it’s not a given that his game translates to the next level.
Best Case: Albrecht is able to use his familiarity with past AAU teammates Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III and play 5 to 10 minutes per game backing up Trey Burke at the point guard position. He doesn’t turn the ball over but also doesn’t score much – managing the game in limited playing time.
Worst Case: Albrecht isn’t ready to play at the Big Ten level and spends a year redshirting and learning the Michigan offense, providing a bit of insurance with a freshman point guard incoming and Trey Burke’s likely departure to the NBA.
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Bottom Line: Albrecht is the least regarded of any of Michigan’s incoming players and he’ll be playing behind a likely preseason All-American in Trey Burke. It will be interesting to watch what happens with Eso Akunne. Does he continue to play for Burke’s backup minutes or does he try to shift over to the two position where there are even more lineup holes. Akunne’s role could determine whether there’s a role for Albrecht, or not.
- Top Scorer: Glenn Robinson III
- Top Rebounder: Mitch McGary
- Top Passer: Nik Stauskas
- Best Defender: Glenn Robinson III
- Surprise Player: Caris LeVert
- Best Three Point Shooter: Nik Stauskas
- Best Athlete: Glenn Robinson III
- Complete Scorer: Nik Stauskas
- Most Likely to Breakout as a Sophomore: Caris LeVert
- Most Energy: Mitch McGary