Mar 19, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Michigan head coach John Beilein directs his team during practice before the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

U-M Hoops: 'Bigs' must grow up fast

Mar 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans forward Matt Costello (10) blocks out Michigan Wolverines forward Max Bielfeldt (44) in the championship game for the Big Ten college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The U-M basketball team has been left with a very inexperienced front court, no thanks to the NBA or even the NCAA.

The final hammer dropped Friday when the NCAA  shoved F/C Mitch McGary into the NBA draft for smoking a joint.

McGary, an 21-year-old rising junior, had been debating a return to Michigan for his third season, but an NCAA random drug test found marijuana in  McGary’s system and handed him a one-year suspension. (Shoot, what happened to the $5 fines for smoking some pot. Heck, 18 states have already legalized it for medical uses, while the states of Washington and Colorado have also legalized it for recreational use. Pot is still illegal according to the federal government, but eventually that may change too).

Impressive showing

McGary burst onto the scene during last year’s NCAA tournament, impressing NBA scouts with infectious play on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, McGary played just eight games this season before he was forced to have back surgery. He was with the team at the NCAA’s but never entered a game.

“It’s just with the NCAA and their strict rules, they don’t show any mercy,” McGary told Yahoo. “They take their things seriously.”

Michigan head coach John Beilein will face an interesting coaching challenge this fall, when the Wolverines take the floor for the 2014-15 season. Expectations are still high for Beilein, who has led U-M to the NCAA tournament’s final game in 2013 and the Elite Eight this year.

Crisler Deserted

The problem is that 6-8 Jordan Morgan ran out of eligibility, 6-10 Jon Horford is transferring and 6-6 Nick Stauskas, 6-6 Glenn Robinson III, and of course 6-10 McGary are all entering the upcoming NBA draft. June 26 in New York City.

Below is a possible lineup for next season, unless Beilein can recruit a miracle big man before the final signing date, May 21.

Possible Starting Lineup

C/F 6-9 Mark Donnal

PF 6-9 Ricky Doyle

SF 6-6 Zak Irvin

SG 6-6 Caris LeVert

PG 6-1 Derrick Walton, JR.

6th Man: 6-7 Kameron Chatman

Next off the bench:  6-7 Max Bielfeldt, 6-9 D.J. Wilson, 5-11 Spike Albrecht.

That’a decent nine-man rotation that might be together for two seasons.

One thing is for sure, Michigan will no longer be playing any 6-3 (Zack Novac) players in the up front.

Here are a few notes and quotes on the new front court players, then in Part 2 we’ll see who Beilein might land before the deadline.

Mark Donnal, 6-9, 230, 4-stars (scout), No. 13 center, No. 1 (Ohio) : Like many college big men, Donnal arrived at Michigan lacking strength.

His early battles with Jordan Morgan in practice showed that work needed to be done. It appeared early on that he would be redshirted, so he could add some weight and strength needed to battle Morgan and get ready for 2014.

His work on the scout team was invaluable.

“I started to pick up everything, and my game started to come back to me, and I’m getting in the flow of the college game,” Donnal told The Michigan Daily.

Now 6-9 and 230, Donnal heard some nice words from the departing Morgan.

“I think about next year,” Morgan said. “I think he’s gonna make a really big difference for this team next year.”

Kam Chatman (6-7, 200, 4-stars (247), No. 7 SF, No. 1 (Oregon) : The left-handed small forward has a nice shooting touch,  with an especially high arc to his shots. Add his many other attributes, and you could wonder if he could play wing on offense and  No. 4 on defense.

“Chatman is a terrific rebounder and always seems to be in the right place to grab a board, says “The way his body and game have evolved over time show a kid who is on a good growth curve and projects well moving forward.

“Chatman’s size, length, physical upside, skill set and basketball IQ make him one of the top overall prospects out west in 2014.

“Overall, Michigan landed a terrific prospect, a hard worker and a player who fits in very well into John Beilein’s system.”

He’s been compared to Robinson, mainly because of the versatility and his ability to create his own shot.

Should he add to his 200-lb frame, he’ll be a lock to get plenty of minutes if not a starting spot.

D.J.Wilson (6-9,  200, 3-stars (247), No. 51 SF, No. 15 (California). Back in 2012, Wilson was a 6-6 combo forward. Since then he’s grown three inches, and earned plenty of respect.

““He has had a lot of set backs and a lot of people talking about how he wasn’t physical enough or wasn’t good enough and he used all that as fuel,” Sacramento (CA) Capital Christian coach Devon Jones told

“Now he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder and he doesn’t want to lose.

“He’s versatile,” Jones explained. “He’s going to hit the three. He’s going to post you up. He’s going to run in transition and dunk on you. He’s going to do it all. He’s had three or four games this year with triple doubles and over 10 blocks.”

Sometimes ratings can be misleading but Wilson is the huge state of California’s No. 15 overall prospect, which  shows that the potential is there.

Ricky Doyle (6-9, 235, 3-stars, No. 51 PF, No. 22 (Florida).

Already having decent size for a college post-player, Ricky Doyle has a good shot of wrestling the center spot from Mark Donnal.

But there are already mixed opinions among the experts. Tim McCormick, who played for Michigan in the early ’80, and helps run the National Basketball Association Players Association Camp. After seeing Doyle in action,  McCormick made his assessment. ““I think he had a great experience..” McCormick said. “His strength is face up shooting. He is a face up scorer. He is not quite as tall as I thought he would be. He is listed at 6’9” and he didn’t look like he was 6’9”. I don’t think he is quite as advanced as Mark Donnal was last year, but I really appreciate his ability to run the court. He is pretty skilled.”

The story was different at the City of Palms Classic at Fort Myers, FL  when’s Evan Daniels had his say “A big, lumbering post player, Doyle provided a scoring impact for Bishop Verot on the block. Up against Denver (Colo.) East, who had some athletes inside, Doyle had to work to get open on the block and made a couple of tough catches in the paint. He scored off hook shots, strong finishes with both hands and hit a pair of 15-foot jump shots. Doyle finished with 18 points on 9-for-13 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds.

One last comment to start the conservation:: “Doyle has terrific footwork and utilizes his body to shield oncoming defenders from blocking his shot. He also showed an ability to do a little pick and pop offensively, stretching the floor and bringing the center or power forward guarding him away from the basket. No doubt Doyle was the most consistent big man in attendance Saturday and someone that should be a very productive four-year player in Ann Arbor.”

Part 2 will cover the one or two players Beilein might recruit before the final signing day. ♦

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer











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