Michigan Basketball: Expect Chaundee Brown to start if granted waiver

If Chaundee Brown is granted a waiver to play for Michigan basketball in the 2020-21 season, expect him to start for the Wolverines.

When Cole Bajema left Michigan basketball via the transfer portal, it left the Wolverines without a 3-point shooter and without critical depth in the backcourt for next season and the future.

But head coach Juwan Howard went to work quickly and despite Chaundee Brown already announcing a top-four list, Michigan made it into his revised top-5 and a few days later, the former Wake Forest guard announced his transfer to the Wolverines.

According to an interview with The Michigan Insider, Brown said the way Howard made him feel like a priority was key:

“I had my final four out and they came in and Coach Howard called me and everything. Just from the beginning, it felt like they really needed me. That was the most important thing. They treated me like a family already. I just felt comfortable. I trusted them and I know they trust me. They love my parents and my parents love them. The connection was just right there.”

Howard is a great recruiter and the pursuit of Brown showed why. He made the connection and landed a kid who could have gone to Gonzaga or Illinois. Brown also said something that attracted him to the Wolverines was Howard’s idea of position-less basketball.

“(Howard) said I’m a different player where I can play multiple positions,” Brown told the Michigan Insider. “He wants me to play the two, three and a little bit of the four. He told me that it’s just a great thing about me, I can play multiple positions. He also said that I come in and play my game. He stated one time, ‘Why would I come this late in the process if I didn’t think you were good enough.'”

When and where will Brown play for Michigan basketball?

As Brown said in that interview, Howard told him he could play at the two, three or four, which makes perfect sense. Brown isn’t huge a 6-foot-5, but he’s a really strong rebounder, bringing in 6.5 per game last season and 1.7 offensive rebounds per game.

His defense hasn’t always been spectacular and he may be better suited to guarding 3’s and 4’s instead of a two. However, he has the bigger body many teams look for in a shooting guard and he’s a solid 3-point shooter. His percentage is only 32 percent for his career, but he won’t have to take as many shots at Michigan and should get more open looks.

Obviously, Brown would fit really well with Michigan in 2021-22 following the departure of Isaiah Livers, assuming he returns for next season, and Franz Wagner. At that time, Brown would give the Wolverines some much-needed shooting and would easily start at the two or three.

Yet, according to The Michigan Insider, Brown has confidence in his waiver proposal. Here’s what he said:

“I don’t even know (how the waiver) process works. I didn’t study yet but whenever I do start trying to apply for the waiver, I think I should be fine. Especially when all of this dies down and everything. If not, I can just learn a lot more from not playing and seeing things from a coaching perspective and also in practice. Michigan is a great school so being there for two years, I feel like I would love it. I want to play next year but if I sit out next year, that is something I’ll have to deal with. I can’t control that.”

Having Brown sit out a year wouldn’t be the worst thing. He’d get familiarity with Howard and Michigan before being expected to make an impact the following season. Yet, if Brown is able to play immediately, he should find his way into the starting lineup.

Livers, Wagner and Eli Brooks are all starters in my mind. Center will come down to Hunter Dickinson, Austin Davis and possibly Brandon Johns, leaving one starting job at shooting guard or point guard.

Brown isn’t a point guard, but Brooks proved he can play both spots last year and with Brown at the two, I’d expect to see Brooks at the one, with Mike Smith getting plenty of minutes off the bench.

Brooks is a solid defender and he came to Michigan as a point guard, only moving to shooting guard to start alongside Zavier Simpson. Smith scored over 20 a game for Columbia last year and his scoring ability will be needed.

However, I always felt he was better suited to coming off the bench. It’s hard to guess how Smith’s game will translate from the Ivy League to the Big Ten, but expecting him to play 30 minutes a night and score in double figures is unrealistic.

Brown, on the other hand, averaged 11.9 points as a sophomore and 12.1 as a junior in the ACC. He’s a former top-40 recruit who started 73-career games in a big-time conference, so there won’t be an adjustment to the level of play. Of course, if Nojel Eastern can play right away too, that might make things more complicated but there are some questions on that front too.

Having Brown play right away would also alleviate pressure on Zeb Jackson to contribute right away, although he’s still capable of doing that. It just prevents Michigan from needing solid minutes from him, which it will if Brown can’t play until 2021-22.