Michigan’s 2015-16 season is in the books as are the seasons of its four incoming commitments. Point guard Xavier Simpson has emerged as the jewel of Michigan’s class while Jon Teske, Ibi Watson and Austin Davis also wrapped up successful senior seasons.
Michigan returns its entire active roster from this season, but there’s still a significant opportunity for the freshman class to make an impact. Here’s a look at what Michigan’s 2016 commitments accomplished this season and what the Wolverines could expect from them coming up next season.
Xavier Simpson (PG, 4-star, 67th)
Simpson was named Mr. Basketball in Ohio and took Lima Senior all the way to the State Championship game, where they lost their only game of the season. Simpson averaged 27.2 points, 6.1 assists and 3.8 steals per game as a senior at Lima and is Michigan’s first Ohio Mr. Basketball since Trey Burke.
Simpson is a smaller lead guard, but he has the ability to make an impact right away in Ann Arbor, especially stepping into a situation where he’ll be the only scholarship point guard on the roster other than Derrick Walton.
Impact Forecast: It’s no secret that Michigan needs a backup point guard after Derrick Walton played as many minutes as anyone in Big Ten play. Simpson should be able to step in and provide a legitimate backup point guard option while learning under the senior lead guard. Given Michigan’s suspect depth in the backcourt, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a few Walton-Simpson lineups next year as well.
Jon Teske (C, 3-star, 149th)
The 7-foot-1 big man from Medina, OH was named to the All-Ohio first team last week. He averaged 16.4 points, 10 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.6 blocks per game while helping Medina to the district championship game.
Being first-team All-Ohio is a great honor,” Teske told the Medina Gazette. “It’s a very special award, and I’m honored to be a part of it.
“For three Michigan commits to make it is awesome. It shows the talent that is going up to Ann Arbor next year.”
Impact Forecast: At some point in his career, Jon Teske will be the best shot blocker that Michigan has had in several years. He’d have to make significant gains in strength and rebounding ability for that to be this year. With so many post players already on the roster and his thin frame, Teske seems like a likely candidate for a redshirt this upcoming season.
Austin Davis (C, 3-star, 181st)
Davis isn’t as long as Teske, but he had a very productive senior season at Onsted. He finished as runner up for Mr. Basketball in Michigan to Cassius Winston, and averaged 24.7 points, 14.4 rebounds and 4.8 blocks per game while shooting 79% from the floor. It’s hard to read too much from his numbers as he plays Class B basketball at Onsted, rarely facing players his own size, but he can only play who is in front of him.
Davis led Onsted to the regional final where they fell to River Rouge in a 49-44 loss. Davis had 17 points in the defeat as River Rouge forced someone else on Onsted’s roster to beat them.
Impact Forecast: Davis is a more physical player than Teske, but he’s also shown some athletic and conditioning limitations over his career. As a senior he’s put some of those to rest and has demonstrated significant improvement. Given his physicality, soft hands and feel under the hoop, he projects in the sort of role that Michigan’s centers have been known for: setting good screens, catching the ball off the ball screen and finishing at the hoop. Any young big man that can do those things better than Mark Donnal or Ricky Doyle should have a legitimate chance to earn minutes.
Ibi Watson (Wing, 3-star, 219th)
Ibi Watson averaged 19.3 points per game and was also named first-team All-Ohio by the Associated Press. He helped Pickerington Central to the regionals where they lost to eventual state champs Westerville South. Watson went down swinging with 27 points in the loss, but it wasn’t enough.
Impact Forecast: The road to playing time for Watson will be clear in 2015-16: Can he serve as a viable three-and-d option off the bench? Aubrey Dawkins has provided the ‘three’ (43%) without the ‘d’. Duncan Robinson played significant minutes and eventually ran out of steam down the stretch. There’s a legitimate role for another wing guard off the bench on this roster and, while raw, Watson has some of the talent to see the floor.