After all of the news and rumors, it’s finally official: Caris LeVert will return to Michigan for his senior season.
And that’s very big news for the Wolverines as they look to be one of the deepest teams in all of college basketball, especially in the Big Ten where several top teams lost their best players to the draft or graduation.
So, Michigan should be one of the best teams in the conference on paper, but what else does LeVert’s return mean for the 2015-16 Wolverine squad?
When LeVert went down with his injury vs Northwestern, the 2014-15 squad struggled with the quick infusion of inexperience and only had two upper classmen on the roster, in Spike and Max.
That injury was tough for the season but thanks to it, those inexperienced players now have a ton of playing time under their belt and are just looking for that veteran to lead them to the promise land. And I believe LeVert (along with Spike, Irvin and Walton), will be that guy that both the players and coaches turns to when the going gets tough.
Having a veteran scorer on the court is something every top team needs. LeVert has that ability to calm down the young guys and make the smart decisions that are needed to grind out wins in a very tough conference like the Big Ten.
Speaking of a guy to turn to, one of the biggest problems with last year’s team was the lack of a go-to scoring threat. Sure, Aubrey Dawkins had his big games, as did MAAR and Irvin, but none of them were consistent.
With Caris back in the fold, he has the size, athleticism and skill to be that guy, like we all expected last year.
He struggled a bit earlier in the season when he was the “go-to” guy on a very inexperienced team (14.9 pts, 4.9 reb, 3.7 ast), though his numbers don’t look too bad. It was the stress of having to do too much throughout the game the seemed to weigh on him, but that should not be the problem in 2015-16 as Michigan will be stacked with talent.
And we’ve all seen what Caris can do when he’s surrounded by top talent, like in 2013-14, where he was a key reason why Michigan won the Big Ten regular season and made a run in the tourney.
But is the roster too deep for Caris to make a big impact?
While I believe Caris would be the “go-to” guy on the roster in crunch time, Beilein does not have a shortage of options. But could there possibly be too many options?
You can never have too many good players and scorers, even if most of them play the same position. Just ask the 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats.
Beilein will have tough decisions on his hands but the best players will play, and just like Harbaugh, competition breeds success. Expect this offseason to be one of the best for the program under Coach B as there will be at least 12 guys who will fight for the majority of playing time.
Check out my early depth chart prediction:
- PG Derrick Walton
- SG Zak Irvin
- SF Caris LeVert
- F Aubrey Dawkins
- C Ricky Doyle
- PG Spike Albrecht
- SG Muhammed Ali Abdur-Rahkman
- SF Kam Chatman
- PF Duncan Robinson
- C Mark Donnal
- PG Andrew Dakich*
- SG Austin Hatch*
- G/F Sean Lonegran*
- F Moritz Wagner
- F/C DJ Wilson
That roster looks nice. But will it look even better this summer?
The return of LeVert had most believing that Michigan was done recruiting for 2015. However, according to a report, the Wolverines are still actively recruiting the nation’s #1 player SF Jaylen Brown and VCU decommit SG Kenny Williams.
Like it’s been reported before by multiple Michigan insiders, if Michigan can land either Brown or Williams, they will likely put sophomore guard Austin Hatch on a medical scholarship. And it looks like that’s a real possibility as Williams seems to be very high on Michigan and Brown could possibly see himself as the missing piece for something special in Ann Arbor.
Either way, Michigan is much stronger going into the 2015-16 season with the return of LeVert and should be a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten.