Michigan Basketball targeting international big for 2023-24 roster

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Syndication: Detroit Free Press /

Michigan basketball is still looking to add to its roster for the 2023-24 season and international big man Lee Aaliya is a name to know. 

If all goes according to plan for Michigan basketball, there could be a new roster addition for the Wolverines this week in 6-foot-9 forward/center Lee Aaliya.

Yes, that name seems to be coming out of nowhere, but the same thing happened with Youssef Khayat last summer. He was a late addition and ended up as part of the 2022 recruiting class.

Aaliya could be doing the same thing, just as part of Michigan basketball’s 2023 recruiting class. The Wolverines are in the mix according to Trilly Donovan and a college decision from the big man from Argentina could come as soon as this week.

Trilly reported that Providence and “other” teams are in the mix in addition to Michigan basketball. Davis Moseley, formerly of Rivals and 247 Sports, said that he likes the big man’s game.

What Aaliya would bring to Michigan basketball?

If you watch the highlights of Aaliya, you’ll see plenty of athleticism. He shows some ability to block shots and is a really solid finisher. One thing he can’t really do is shoot.

In seven games for Argentina in the U19 Fiba World Cup, Aaliya averaged 17.7 points per game in 21 minutes. He was also blocking 2.1 shots per game, in addition to grabbing nine rebounds.

The power forward/center did hit 4-of-12 shots from 3-point range in the tournament (33 percent) so there is some potential, but also shot just 8-of-26 from the free-throw line. In 10 games in Argentina’s La Liga, he was 7-of-17 at the line and 0-for-5 from 3-point.

Still, there’s a lot to like about his game, and Michigan basketball could definitely use more depth in the front court. Beyond Tarris Reed, there also isn’t much rim protection. Plus you need to be able to rebound in the Big Ten, which was an issue last season for the Wolverines.

Aaliya isn’t the high-scoring guard or wing Michigan basketball fans have wanted. But he’s a talented player with a ton of raw ability and upside. Juwan Howard has proven he can develop those kinds of players — just look at Moussa Diabate.

Moseley also reported that Aaliya has the same agent as Bam Adebayo, a player Juwan helped develop with the Miami Heat.

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So there are a few reasons to think this will go the way of Michigan basketball. Aaliya might not have the immediate impact of a college transfer, but you want good players in your program and he definitely meets that requirement. Plus, NIL probably won’t be a factor.