Juwan Howard and Michigan basketball will play an exhibition game against Wayne State University on Nov. 5 before officially getting things rolling on Nov. 10 against Buffalo, which means the team is off and running with several practices in the books. Media day took place on Friday giving a lot of interested parties a chance to see this year’s version of the hoops team in person for the first time. Here are some things that stood out while watching the team run through some drills and interact with one another.
0 – Adrian Nunez – guard / 6-6 / 220 pounds
With so much young talent and depth on the roster, Nunez probably won’t play much, which isn’t different from last year. He still has good size and a very smooth stroke, but he’s a liability on defense and just doesn’t figure into the rotation much.
1 – Hunter Dickinson – center / 7-1 / 260 pounds
Dickinson is poised to have a monstrous year. Both he and Juwan Howard spoke about his ability to shoot from the outside, even though he didn’t do it much last year. During the shooting drills he looked very comfortable. Obviously doing it in a game with a defender in your face is very different, but Dickinson has great mechanics and seems plenty confident in his shot.
2 – Kobe Bufkin – guard / 6-4 / 175 pounds
I really, really liked how Bufkin looked. He’s obviously slim at 175 pounds, but he’s long, lean and looks really natural shooting and handling the ball. Everything he does is just smooth and effortless. He’s obviously not quite as tall and is a lefty, but his proportions, movements and posture reminded me of Penny Hardaway.
3 – Zeb Jackson – guard / 6-5 / 190 pounds
Bufkin and Jackson are pretty similar. Both are tall point guards, both are lefties, both have a slimmer build and both could definitely play the 2-spot with some of the more true point guards on the team. Jackson didn’t participate in practice.
4 – Brandon Wade – guard / 6-1 / 190 pounds
Wade is a walk on and was not a focal point during practice.
5 – Terrance Williams II – forward / 6-7 / 230 pounds
Williams looks ready for an expanded role. He’s valuable because he can play the 3, 4 or 5 at 6-7, 230 pounds. He has reshaped his body and is working hard on his three-point shot. He said that he’s most comfortable at the 4 since that’s his most natural position but he’s going to play a lot of minutes this year because he can step into three different roles.
10 – Frankie Collins – guard / 6-1 / 185 pounds
Collins has a strong, powerful build. You see it when you watch his high school highlight tapes — he absolutely explodes off the ground and can dunk on people in a rare way for someone who stands 6-1. His jump shot isn’t as natural looking as Bufkin’s but it’s not broken. His strength is going to be pushing the pace, challenging defenders at the rim and finishing through contact. If he can develop a more consistent three pointer, he’ll be a star in no time.
12 – Devante’ Jones – guard / 6-1 / 200 pounds
Jones just looks ready to run a team. Even in a relaxed practice setting he came off as extremely calm, collected and confident. He’s got a strong, thick build and he has long arms and wide shoulders. That’s going to make him tough as a defender and with his experience and IQ, he should be very reliable on that end of the floor. His jump shot looked solid and we’ve heard about his very advanced floater game even though it wasn’t on display during practice.
13 – Ian Burns – guard / 6-6 / 200 pounds
Burns is obviously a walk on and likely won’t see the floor outside of blowouts but he’s a pretty impressive looking kid for a non-scholarship player. It’s crazy to think that a 6-6, 200-pound guard, who can really shoot it, won’t sniff the floor. It shows you just how good Division I, Power 5 athletes are.
14 – Moussa Diabate – forward / 6-11 / 210 pounds
Diabate got my top “grade” on the day based on the eye ball test and surface level observations. He just looks like a future superstar. He’s all of 6-11, he’s got an incredible build and frame and he’s been described as a freak athlete. He’s worked really hard on his outside shot and it is more than serviceable at this point. As a freshman, he probably won’t be asked to jack up many threes, but he’s capable out there and is certainly good enough to spread the floor. Overall, he just looks ready to explode because his size, build, athleticism and potential. I’m not sure it’ll be realized at Michigan because he probably won’t be around for very long, but he’s got an extremely bright future.
22 – Caleb Houstan – guard/forward / 6-8 / 205 pounds
Houstan was a top ten recruit for a reason — he’s got the size, the athleticism, the shooting stroke, the build and the IQ to be really, really good. He’s likely a lock to start for Michigan and might have a chance to be the Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten. There’s really nothing he can’t do on the basketball court and even in a simple shooting drill you can see that he’s special. I like Diabate as an upside prospect, but Houstan is ready now and should be really, really good for Juwan and Co. this season.
23 – Brandon Johns Jr. – forward / 6-8 / 220 pounds
Johns just continues to be there and be solid. He’s improved every year and provides a ton of value, energy and versatility off the bench. There’s a chance he could start this year, but he may eventually give way to Diabate. But that’s the beauty of Johns, he’s going to be solid as a starter or as a bench player. His shot still looks good and he’s been working hard on it.
25 – Jace Howard – guard / 6-7 / 225 pounds
Howard looks great on the hoof but his jump shot still isn’t very consistent. If he ever carves out a role as a regular contributor, it’ll be cause he’s athletic, physical, a good defender and a consistent rebounder from the wing.
42 – Will Tschetter – forward / 6-8 / 230 pounds
I just really liked watching Tschetter walk around the court. He’s got the spiky hair over the top of the headband, the short shorts and the Rec Specs. I said this on the podcast earlier this weekend — he looks like he’s ready for a four-year ass kicking journey. He’s got broad shoulders, sharp elbows and a really good build. I don’t know how much we’ll see him this year, but eventually I can see him providing some good minutes as a combo 4-man.
44 – Jaron Faulds – forward / 6-10 / 240 pounds
Faulds is another walk on who has been around for a while. He’s got good size and provides some nice competition for Dickinson and now Diabate. His jump shot is pretty good but he’s limited in other areas against Big Ten competition.
55 – Eli Brooks – guard / 6-1 / 185 pounds
Eli Brooks is going to be Eli Brooks. All Michigan fans know what you’re getting with him at this point. He was in a large walking boot during practice and obviously didn’t participate.