John Beilein likes versatility of 2014 recruiting class

On Thursday, Michigan finalized its class of 2014 early signings, with Kameron Chatman, Ricky Doyle, Austin Hatch and DJ Wilson all signing their national letters of intent to play for the Wolverines.

The class ranks as the 30th-best in the nation and third in the Big Ten behind Indiana and Ohio State. Centered around versatility and replacing Michigan’s two likely NBA-bound sophomores, it appears John Beilein and the rest of the staff pulled in a class that fills those needs.

In Fort Myers, FL native Ricky Doyle, Beilein believes he has a true center who also has the ability to knock down shots. Doyle was ranked as a four-star prospect by ESPN and committed to Michigan on March 11th. The big man stands at 6-foot-10 and may grow taller.

“I don’t know if he’s done growing. His dad is a full 7-1 and a big man,” Beilein said at a press conference on Friday. “Ricky, he likes it down in the paint, he likes it on the perimeter, people are going to enjoy seeing that old-school type of approach.”

With freshman Mark Donnal tracking for a redshirt this season, Michigan could be looking at a formidable, if young, big man duo of the future. Redshirt junior Jon Horford will also have a remaining year of eligibility, helping to bridge the gap in experience.

The Wolverines also welcomed their two more recent signees, Kameron Chatman and DJ Wilson. Both are from out west — Chatman from Portland and Wilson from Sacramento. Chatman is the highest-ranked recruit in Michigan’s 2014 class. The 6-foot-7 forward is ranked 32nd in the country according to 247 Sports Composite Rankings.

In Chatman, Michigan has a versatile player who can be a threat from anywhere on the court. Chatman has guard skills but can also score in the paint. He’s just as likely to grab a rebound – he averaged 9.8 rebounds per game on the Nike EYBL circuit – as he is to throw an assist and his flexibility makes him a perfect fit for the Wolverine offense.

ESPN’s Joel Francisco named Chatman and Michigan one of the best fits in the 2014 class.

“When Kameron Chatman listed Michigan early in the recruiting process of schools that were pursuing him, it made perfect sense. John Beilein runs a multidimensional offense with many interchangeable parts,” Francisco wrote. “Thus, he looks for prospects who can play multiple positions when recruiting for his system — and Chatman fits into his scenario quite well. Chatman is a lengthy, left-handed small forward who has point guard skills. In Beilein’s motion offense, Chatman can facilitate due to his passing acumen or score at all three levels.”

Because of his do-it-all game, the natural comparison is to this year’s emergent talent, sophomore Caris LeVert.

“He can do a lot of things,” Beilein said. “What’s really unique with him, because he’s stronger than Caris, he really loves getting in around the basket — not that Caris doesn’t, but he’s been more of a guard his whole life probably, and Kam can play either one. Kam has incredible vision, but also will stick his nose in there even though his frame right now is slight, because he just keeps growing. His mom’s trying to feed him, but he just keeps growing.”

Wilson was the last player to commit, but he provides an intriguing skillset as well. Rail-thin but athletic and very long, the Sacramento native appears to be a prototypical stretch four for the Wolverine offense.

After spending much of the last year overcoming a back injury, Wilson finally returned to the court this summer and grabbed the attention of the Michigan coaches. For Beilein, who only saw Wilson after his back issue had healed, taking on the lanky forward was an easy choice.

“I knew he had back issues, but we saw him when they were all finished. People are going to get injured,” Beilein said. “What we saw from the summer, from what we saw in his workouts, we saw a young man with great upside, huge upside. And a great desire to be a player, great work habits, and he loves Michigan as well. Those three together, it was a no-brainer.”

Austin Hatch, the fourth member of the 2014 class, plans on playing high school basketball this season at Loyola High School in Los Angeles. The 6-foot-6 wing is attempting a comeback from injuries sustained in a tragic plane crash in June of 2011. Hatch plans to address the media on Wednesday to discuss his future plans.

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