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2012-13 Michigan basketball player preview: Nik Stauskas

October 16th, 2012 by Sam Sedlecky

Today, we continue our player preview posts, beginning with the most unknown of the players, the 2012 freshmen basketball class. Everyone knows at least a little bit about the returning players, but the ones that haven’t played a minute of college ball have the most to prove on the court this upcoming season. As we start to look at the freshmen now, I will begin the previews with the least-heralded newcomers and end with the jewels of the highly-ranked class. Today, let’s look at Michigan’s recruit from north of the border, Nik Stauskas.

#11 – Nik Stauskas


6’6″, 190 pounds

Hometown: Mississaugua, Ontario, Canada
High School: Loyola Catholic Secondary School (Toronto)
High School Stats (2009-10): 32.0 points, 14.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists per game
Prep School: St. Mark’s School (Mass.)
Prep School Stats (2011-12): 20.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists per game
AAU: Grassroots Canada
Projected Position(s): Shooting Guard, Point Guard
Committed: March 25, 2011
Major Suitors: Kansas, Wake Forest, Iowa St, Stanford, Georgetown
Chances of Redshirt: 5 percent
Recruiting Rankings:
Rivals: 4-star (Overall: 71, position: 13)
Scout: 3-star (NR)
ESPN: 4-star (Overall: 76, Grade: 92, position: 21, state: 2)

Background: The first thing that comes to mind when watching Nik Stauskas play is that he is a prototypical “Beilein player,” an absolute dead-eye shooter that will kill teams that leave him open behind the 3-point arc. Stauskas emerged on the scene while playing under Mark Lubick, the father of current Georgetown big and once-certain Michigan commit Nate Lubick, at St. Mark’s, where he teamed with five-star talents Alex Murphy (Duke) and Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona) to form one of the best teams in the country two years ago.

Stauskas is one of the best shooters in the class of 2012

When Michigan started recruiting the Canadian early on, he seemed destined to commit in a heartbeat to what seemed to be the perfect system for him. All signs pointed to the Wolverines, and his coach had always been a big fan of Beilein’s despite his son’s commitment to play for John Thompson III. He visited Michigan for the first time in late summer of 2010 then came back for a football game in the fall, consistently naming Michigan at the top of his list. As his recruitment appeared to be winding down, however, Bill Self swooped in from Kansas with an offer and certainly gave pause to Stauskas. He then seemed to be destined for Lawrence for a couple months before the Wolverines re-emerged in early 2011 and eventually gained his commitment. The match made in heaven came to fruition.

While at St. Mark’s, Stauskas was overshadowed by the big names of his teammates, but he shone brightly on the court, reportedly leading the team in scoring both of his seasons there, and in 2011 he guided his Winged Lion squad to a 28-2 record and a huge win over Nerlens Noel’s Tilton team. He was never a flashy player and always seemed to play within the game, but his stats always stood out at the end of the games, more likely than not because a large percentage of his makes came from downtown.

Stauskas also has myriad personal YouTube videos on the internet that showcase his hard work while at home, going through shooting drills in which he surprises himself when he misses and dribbling drills in which the ball is moving so fast at times it’s hard to tell exactly what he is doing. While he doesn’t particularly look like a star athlete with his unassuming face and relatively thin build, he has shown his ability on the court and will look to prove it further throughout his college career.


What He Will Provide:

  1. 1. Scoring: Stauskas is one of the best shooters in this high school class, and while his shot might not be the prettiest, it goes in. He very nearly broke a record in one of his first attempts in John Beilein’s famed 50 threes in five minutes drill with a number in the mid-70s and consistently put up big scoring numbers in one of the best prep leagues in the country over the past two years. And while his three-point shot probably attracted Michigan in the first place, Beilein now consistently raves about Stauskas’s all-around offensive game, as evidenced in the above videos. He probably won’t be as good a slasher on the college level, but there is no question he finds ways to score, whether launching it from deep or driving past two men and putting up a nifty lay-up.
  2. 2. Competition: Junior Tim Hardaway and senior Matt Vogrich figure to be in line to receive the most minutes at the two-guard spot, depending on what Beilein decides to do with the line-up, but they will certainly see Stauskas challenging for minutes every day in practice with his sweet stroke. If either of those guys is struggling in the midst of a cold streak, Beilein will quickly turn to the freshman to provide a scoring spark off the bench.

    Stauskas' defense will dictate his minutes this season

  3. 3. Size: Stauskas is definitely not the biggest player in the world, but 6’6” shooting guards don’t grow on trees either. Size is always big in basketball, whether it helps in getting a shot off over a smaller defender, rebounding the ball above the rim, or blocking shots on occasion; Stauskas has shown the propensity to do all three of these things, which will help win games.

What He Will Have to Work On:

  1. 1. Defense: This will be a common theme throughout the player previews, but the Michigan coaches have made it clear this year that defense will be stressed first and foremost, mentioning that Stauskas’s defense will dictate how many minutes he plays. Stauskas isn’t necessarily a bad athlete, but he isn’t the quickest guy either. If he consistently gets beat one-on-one, his minutes will drastically decrease.
  2. 2. Strength and Quickness: Again, this is not to be unexpected in freshmen, but Stauskas is going to have to put on some muscle to survive and thrive throughout the long season and will have to improve his quickness to hold up on defense and to better utilize his driving ability on offense. Stauskas, a 19-year-old, certainly has time to work on both of these things over the next couple of years to reach his potential as an upperclassman.

Burning Question: How will the 2-guard rotation play out?

If Beilein implements the two-big offense that everyone is talking about these days, Stauskas’s minutes could be severely limited with Tim Hardaway, Glenn Robinson III, and Matt Vogrich all in the mix to see time at his spot, but if Beilein elects to go with his 4-out, 1-in offense at all, Nik will get pretty decent run throughout the year regardless of whether or not he beats out Vogrich in the rotation. Vogrich will likely be Stauskas’s main competition for minutes in a smaller offense, and the winner of that battle will be on the court for extended periods of time.

Stat Predictions: 5.2 points, 1.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds in 12 minutes per game.