The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 17 of 59

18 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2022 BY JOHN BORTON M ichigan's men's basketball team adopted the college game's scramble mode like a squad full-court pressing from the opening tip. Juwan Howard's crew returns precisely six scholarship players from an aggrega- tion that posted the Wolverines' fifth- consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. De- spite that ostensibly daunting number, CBS Sports recently ranked U-M No. 19 in one of the many excruciatingly early polls. Why? Simple. Junior center Hunter Dickinson returns, bringing 85 inches (7-1) and 260 pounds of college basket- ball savvy, muscle and orneriness to the Michigan lineup. Also, because How- ard once again excelled in the new-age combination of recruiting and free agent transfer pulls. Dickinson stands alone as the only full-time starter back for the Wolverines. The NBA claimed freshmen Moussa Dia- bate and Caleb Houston after only one year at Crisler Center, while Eli Brooks moved on after five notable campaigns and transfer DeVante' Jones completed his college career. Those exits left Howard with plenty of holes to fill. That process likely starts with junior forward Terrance Williams II, sophomore guard Kobe Bufkin and junior guard Jace Howard — all of whom saw action last season — getting the chance to further establish themselves. It continues with redshirted frosh such as guard/forward Isaiah Barnes and forward Will Tschetter demonstrating progress they achieved away from the spotlight. Then come the freshmen, a rising crew far less heralded than last year's top- three class nationally, but one that could impact just as much or more. A second son of the head coach on the roster, 6-7 small forward Jett Howard, headlines the group. He's complemented by fel- low four-stars Tarris Reed Jr., a 6-9, 230-pounder; Dug McDaniel, a 5-11 point guard; and Greg Glenn III, a 6-7, 215-pound power forward. It looked like a foursome until How- ard pulled off an overseas raid. Michi- gan basketball certainly takes no back seat when it comes to foreign plunders, the brothers Wagner (Moe and Franz) coming from Germany to provide major firepower over the past few years. This time around, the head coach gained the confidence of Youssef Khayat, a 6-8 Lebanese forward who has performed for a pro team in France. Khayat completed the roster, after a couple of key grad transfers plugged the guard spots. Joey Baker, a role-playing guard for Duke, comes to Michigan off hip sur- gery and after originally planning to play a fifth-year senior season in Durham. He'll challenge at the guard spots and possibly small forward, adding some much-needed shooting to Michigan's attack. The biggest headliner among the free agents, though, appears to be Michigan's third straight imported point guard. Following Columbia's Mike Smith in 2020-21 and Coastal Carolina's Jones in 2021-22, Michigan brought in Princ- eton's Jaelin Llewellyn for his final year of college basketball. Llewellyn proved a highly effective performer in the Ivy League, like Smith before him. Llewellyn averaged 15.7 points and 15.3 points during his senior and junior seasons, respectively, shoot- ing 38.6 percent from 3-point range as a senior. He also averaged 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists in his final campaign at Princeton. McDaniel can certainly challenge for time at the point, but Llewellyn appears the anointed next up in a spot that has gone to the best available transfer for three straight offseasons. Michigan absolutely needed depth at several positions, along with outside shooting help. The Wolverines averaged 32.4 percent from 3-point range last sea- son. In Llewellyn, Baker, Jett Howard, Khayat and more, they've imported per- formers who should be able to raise that bar. How it all comes together still remains to be seen. The Wolverines got off to a scarily slow start last season, while the freshman class labored to live up to its billing and Jones became accustomed to running the show on offense. In the end, U-M came together at tournament time, advancing to the sec- ond weekend of The Big Dance. There are even more question marks associ- ated with the start of this year, but the Wolverines' newly reconstructed roster offers a variety of potential answers. BREAKTHROUGH RANKING NOTES MICHIGAN ADDITIONS Michigan didn't get a lot of early at- tention when the first college basket- ball polls came out. That's because the U-M roster remained shrouded in un- certainty, with possible NBA departures and roster holes waiting to be plugged. When it all came together through early summer, prognosticators began to notice. CBS Sports made the Wolverines NEXT CHAPTER OUTLINED Michigan Adds Duke Transfer And Goes International To Finish Roster With center Hunter Dickinson back for his junior season, CBS Sports rated Michigan a preseason top-20 team for the 2022-23 campaign. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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