After a dream season in which the Wolverines made the NCAA championship game, things seemed to be ready to collapse. It looked like they were going to lose four of their starting five, and a team with so much promise would drop down to the middle of the pack.
But luckily for the Michigan faithful, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III decided to stay in Ann Arbor. A team on the verge of a rebuild all of a sudden had life again. And the offseason didn't seem quite as daunting.
So where are the Wolverines now? Losing leaders Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the draft means this team has an entirely different feel. Let's see how the team is doing since that title game.
The buzz around campus has to centered on the two big freshman recruits, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton.
Irvin is an athletic, deadeye shooter who's 6'6" and growing. His strength is his wing scoring, but he's a little on the lighter side at only 185 pounds. He was also the 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year in Indiana, where he put up 24.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last year.
Walton, meanwhile, is a little like Trey Burke. Both are complete point guards who can find teammates as well as score. Both are a bit undersized (Walton is 6'0", 165 pounds) and both aren't crazy athletes. He was Michigan's 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year, and averaged 5.4 steals per game as a senior.
They're inexperienced and both of them need to add some muscle, but these two look like good fits for the Burke/Hardaway spots. Now neither is yet the player they seem to be coming to replace, but both were top-40 recruits, according to Rivals. The potential is there.
Irvin seems destined to be a sixth man this year, as his position is a little crowded.
The guys ahead of Irvin—Caris LeVert and Robinson III—have had big offseasons so far and both look poised to have even bigger seasons.
According to McGary's tweet, Robinson recently reached 44 inches on his vertical which would have been best at the 2013 NBA combine. He also touched 12'3" at a max jump according to Robinson's Instagram. That's just unfair.
Coach Beilein also raved about Robinson's attitude after flirting with the NBA draft. He also said Robinson has been living in the weight room this summer. All are good signs for the upcoming season.
LeVert, meanwhile, had his name in the news when former Wolverine Tim Hardaway said he would be a difference maker next year in an ESPN interview.
The guy people are sleeping on is Caris LeVert. I think he grew an inch or two this past year, they plan on him being 6-foot-8, 6-foot-7-1/2 (next year). He's not done growing. He's going to be an athletic, defensive guy who can grab rebounds, push it on the break and hit that wide-open 3.
Though the staff said LeVert is closer to 6'6.5", they echo Hardaway's opinion. They love his work ethic, and assistant coach Jeff Meyer said "he has the ability to not only create offensively but he can defend. We feel like he can (change) the game defensively."
That's high praise for someone who was supposed to redshirt last year. So it makes sense that Irvin might start the season on the bench.
As for the other Wolverine who almost went pro, McGary has also had a stellar summer. According to a Sports Illustrated story, McGary has been working hard on his jump shot. Something he was extremely inconsistent with last season.
He was also one of only 23 players invited to LeBron James' prestigious camp in Las Vegas this summer. Another one of the 23 was Robinson, so Michigan was nicely represented.
And of course, John Beilein was rewarded for his tremendous work with the Wolverines, He signed an extension through 2018-19 that will bump up his salary to $2.45 million a year. That'll make him the ninth-highest paid basketball coach in the country.
All in all, this offseason has been tremendous, especially in light of how it could have been had McGary and Robinson also declared for the draft. So Michigan fans breath another sigh of relief, everything is right on track in Ann Arbor.
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