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Jourdan Lewis drafted 92nd overall by Dallas Cowboys

April 28th, 2017 by Justin Potts


Jourdan Lewis became the fourth Michigan Wolverine selected in the 2017 NFL Draft when he was taken 92nd overall by the Dallas Cowboys. He will join Taco Charlton, who was drafted 28th overall on Thursday night.

Lewis was a consensus first-team All-American, All-Big Ten First-Team selection last season, and a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation’s best defensive back. He won the Big Ten’s Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award despite missing the first three games of the season due to injury.

Lewis set Michigan’s career pass breakups record with 45. He also recorded 133 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and six interceptions throughout his career. In 2015, Lewis set Michigan’s single-season pass breakups record with 22.

In 2016, Lewis made the highlight of the season for the Wolverines, leaping and snatching a game-clinching interception against Wisconsin. He also picked off a pass in the win over Michigan State.

In Dallas, Lewis will join fellow cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, who was selected in the second round out of Colorado, to help solidify the Cowboys’ secondary. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne both departed as free agents in the offseason and the Cowboys are shopping Orlando Scandrick. The Cowboys allowed the most pass completions and seventh-most passing yards in the league last season while recording just nine interceptions, which were more than just four other teams.

Lewis does await trial on July 24 for an alleged domestic violence incident that occurred on March 15. The uncertainty regarding his legal status surely caused his draft stock to fall to the late third round. But he’ll have every chance to lock down a spot in the Cowboys secondary this fall.

Chris Wormley drafted 74th overall by Baltimore Ravens

April 28th, 2017 by Justin Potts


After seeing two Wolverines drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Michigan had to wait until the third round for the next. Jim Harbaugh’s brother John came to the rescue, selecting defensive lineman Chris Wormley 74th overall on Friday night to the Baltimore Ravens.

Wormley started 30 games throughout his Michigan career, recording 123 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, one fumble recovery, and two pass breakups. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches in 2016 and third-team in 2015. He also received Michigan’s Richard Katcher Award as the team’s top defensive lineman both years.

The Toledo, Ohio native ranked second on the team with six sacks and lead the team with three blocked kicks as a fifth-year senior in 2016. In Week 2, he notched seven tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and two blocked field goals against UCF. He recorded four of his five quarterback hurries for the season against Michigan State. He also rose to the occasion in the big games, recording 4.5 sacks in the games against Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State.

In Baltimore, Wormley will fill a hole on the defensive line left by the departures of Lawrence Guy and Timmy Jernigan. He joins former teammate and fellow defensive lineman Willie Henry on the Ravens roster. Henry was drafted in the fourth round (132nd overall) a year ago.

Taco Charlton drafted 28th overall by Dallas Cowboys

April 27th, 2017 by Justin Potts


After Jabrill Peppers was drafted by the Cleveland Browns 25th overall, Michigan didn’t have to wait long for another Wolverine to hear his name called on Thursday night as defensive end Taco Charlton was picked 28th overall by the Dallas Cowboys.

Charlton was an All-Big Ten first team selection last season after leading the team and ranking 14th nationally with 9.5 sacks, despite missing two games with an injured ankle. He recorded a sack in seven of his final 10 games and each of his final four, turning in his best performance of the season against Ohio State when he made nine tackles, three tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. He was also all over the Florida State backfield in the Orange Bowl, recording two tackles for loss, a sack, and a pass breakup.

The Pickerington, Ohio native notched 94 career tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss, and 18.5 sacks, defended two passes, and forced one fumble while starting 11 games.

More than anything, Charlton showed progression throughout his career, playing his best football late in his final season, leaving hope that his best football is ahead of him. The Cowboys haven’t had a player record double-digit sacks in the past three seasons, and they’re hoping Charlton can fill that role.

Charlton is the first Michigan player selected by the Cowboys since Tony Boles in 1991. He joins Peppers to give Michigan two first-round picks in the same draft for the first time since 2005 when Braylon Edwards and Marlin Jackson were selected by the Cleveland Browns (third) and Indianapolis Colts (29th).

Michigan has a potential for 11 more players to be drafted in the final six rounds of the draft, which continues on Friday evening with rounds two and three. Chris Wormley, Amara Darboh, Jourdan Lewis, Jake Butt, and Ben Gedeon are Wolverines who could hear their names called on Friday night.

Jabrill Peppers drafted 25th overall by Cleveland Browns

April 27th, 2017 by Justin Potts


Entering Thursday night’s NFL Draft, many wondered if Michigan’s do-everything star Jabrill Peppers would fall out of the first round after submitting a diluted sample at the NFL Combine. The Cleveland Browns ended that speculation by drafting the East Orange, N.J. native 25th overall.

Peppers was the Big Ten Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year last season, the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year, the Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year, a unanimous All-American, and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy running. He also won the Paul Hornung award as the nation’s most versatile player and the Lott Trophy as college football’s defensive impact player, which recognizes character in addition to talent.

Peppers played all over the field for the Wolverines, impacting the game in all three phases. In 2016, he recorded 72 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, four sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception while playing linebacker. On offense, he rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns, and in the return game he averaged 26 yards per kick return and 14.8 yards per punt return, taking one all the way for a touchdown.

The Browns made a big splash on the draft’s first day, taking Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, snatching Peppers, then trading back into the first round to select Miami tight end David Njoku 29th.

Peppers is a nice piece for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ blitz-happy defense. Williams is known for his exotic schemes, and having a player like Peppers who can move all over the field can help with that. Browns head coach Hue Jackson has also said that he’ll give Peppers a chance to play some offense.

Peppers is Michigan’s first first-round pick since Taylor Lewan was selected 11th overall by the Tennessee Titans in 2014. He’s the first Michigan player drafted by the Browns since receiver Braylon Edwards was drafted third overall in 2005.

New in Blue: 2018 DBs Gemon & German Green

April 20th, 2017 by Justin Potts


(Rivals)

Gemon Green – CB | 6-2, 165 | DeSoto, Texas (DeSoto)
ESPN4-star, #42 CB Rivals: 3-star, N/A 247: 3-star, #35 CB Scout: 4-star, 17 CB
247 Composite: 3-star #32 CB, #338 nationally
Other top offers: TCU, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Wisconsin

Just two days before crossing the Atlantic for the final week of spring practice in Rome, Italy, Jim Harbaugh picked up a commitment from a pair of twins. Gemon and German Green of DeSoto, Texas pledged their commitment to the Wolverines on Thursday afternoon.

Gemon Green is a four-star according to ESPN and Scout and a three-star per 247 and Rivals. Scout has him ranked the highest by far as the 17th-best cornerback in the 2018 class and the 181st-best player in the class. 247 ranks him as the 35th-best corner and 369th overall, while ESPN ranks him 42nd. Rivals hasn’t released its rankings yet.

Scout lists Green’s strengths as ball skills, body control, burst out of breaks, and size while listing his area to improve as backpedal quickness. Scout’s Greg Powers expanded on that in his analysis.

“If you are looking with a cornerback with plus size and the ability to lockdown the opposition’s No. 1 target, the[n] Green is a [corner] who is battle tested doing just that week in and week out. He also faces the best competition in practice each and every day as DeSoto sent multiple receiver to the P5 level. He is good playing close to the line of scrimmage with his long arms and physical style of play or he can drop back and be an effective zone-style defensive back. He reacts quickly and can make plays on the ball. He is more of a coverage guy, but does have the size to be an effective tackler.”

Green chose Michigan over TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Colorado, Oregon, and Wisconsin, to name a few. Michigan was one of the first big schools to offer Green. When the Wolverines extended the offer on Feb. 7 he held offers from Colorado, TCU, and a few smaller schools. But his offer sheet started to blow up after that. He earned MVP of The Opening Dallas Regional in early March, earning an invitation to The Opening Finals from June 28-July 3.

German Green – CB/S | 6-2, 168 | DeSoto, Texas (DeSoto)
ESPNNR Rivals: 3-star, N/A 247: 3-star, #74 CB Scout: 3-star, 62 S
247 Composite: 3-star #87 CB, #812 nationally
Other top offers: Tennessee, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Houston, SMU, Fresno State, New Mexico

German Green is a three-star according to Rivals, 247, and Scout, and currently not rated according to ESPN. Scout ranks him as the 62nd-best safety in the 2018 class, while 247 ranks him as the 74th-best cornerback. He’s the 87th-best corner and 812th-best overall player in the class according to the 247 Composite.

Green picked up his Michigan offer on March 16, about a month after his brother, and that was enough to convince the package deal to head north. Green also held offers from Tennessee, Colorado, Oklahoma State, and Houston, to name a few.

The Green twins are the sixth and seventh commitments in Michigan’s 2018 class, joining fellow cornerback Myles Sims, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, linebacker Otis Reese, offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor, and running back Christian Turner.

New in Blue: 2018 CB Myles Sims

April 7th, 2017 by Justin Potts


(Scout.com)

Myles Sims – CB | 6-2, 173 | Atlanta, Ga. (Westlake)
ESPN4-star, #17 CB Rivals: 4-star, #8 CB 247: 3-star, #38 CB Scout: 4-star, 11 CB
247 Composite: 4-star #17 CB, #133 nationally
Other top offers: Alabama, Auburn, USC, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, LSU, Stanford, Florida, Georgia

Michigan picked up its first football commitment in a month and a half when Georgia cornerback Myles Sims pledged to the Wolverines on Friday afternoon. He announced his intention to play in Ann Arbor on Twitter.

Sims is a four-star according to ESPN, Rivals, and Scout, and a three-star according to 247. Rivals ranks him the highest as the 8th-best corner in the 2018 class, while Scout ranks him 11th, ESPN 17th, and 247 38th. Nationally, Rivals has him as the 51st-best overall player in the class, while Scout has him 80th, ESPN 211th, and 247 390th. According to the 247 Composite, Sims is the 17th-best cornerback and the 133rd-best player in the class.

The Westlake High prospect chose Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines over his home state Georgia Bulldogs. He holds offers from most of the major powers including Alabama, USC, Oklahoma, LSU, Stanford, and Florida, to name a few.

Scout likes Sims’ frame, length, and coverage skills while noting that he’ll have to add some strength, which is expected from most players coming out of high school. They expanded on that in their analysis.

“Sims is a long and rangy defensive back with the ability to play cornerback or free safety on the next level. With Sims, what stands out immediately is his frame and length. He covers a lot of ground and he can get his hands on a lot of footballs in coverage. He is still thin, so he needs to add mass and strength, but that should come in time. In coverage, he is best when playing off coverage. He can still improve his quickness in short space. He has great body control, he can make plays on the ball and he is a very smart defensive back in coverage. His tackling is solid.”

Sims is the fourth member of Michigan’s 2018 class, joining fellow Georgian, linebacker Otis Reese, offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor, and defensive end Aidan Hutchinson.

Short of a storybook ending, Michigan basketball season a tale of redemption, resiliency

March 31st, 2017 by Sam Sedlecky


(Rob Carr, Getty Images)

Spring has arrived, but a dark emptiness seems to permeate through the thick, sticky air. Mother Nature has thrown a curveball at us with dreariness and cold, rain and clouds in lieu of the sunshine and crisp air we have come to expect this time of year as the calendar turns to April.

It’s not just the weather, of course, that’s brought this darkness. It’s the end of Michigan’s wild basketball season that felt like a never-ending story, if only for a moment, before we found that the final pages were missing.

(Dustin Johnson, UM Hoops)

We feel robbed of the beauty we’ve waited for Spring to arrive with for so long, and likewise, we feel robbed of the dream finish that destiny would so surely, we thought, bring for John Beilein’s 10th team in Ann Arbor.

But as with everything else in life, finality is the only certainty, if even it comes prematurely.

At least it was a very good thing while it lasted.

For a long time, this season was not shaping up to be a memorable one, a season that all of us fans hope goes on forever. Michigan sprinted out of the gates with an impressive run through a 2K Classic field that included future NCAA Tournament teams in Marquette and SMU, both of whom were throttled on the way to the Wolverines’ preseason tournament title.

That showing saw Michigan rocket its way into the national polls, but was followed by an underwhelming performance at South Carolina and a rapid return to earth for the season’s expectations. Although, if we had the benefit of foresight at the time, that loss in Columbia wouldn’t seem nearly as bad.

A couple games later, Michigan choked away a home battle versus Virginia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and had another poor performance in a win over a bad Texas team shortly thereafter. The Wolverines would hang with UCLA in Westwood for one impressive, firework-laden half before taking an 18-point loss out West and would later proceed to sweat out a holiday win over a far-better-than-expected Furman squad before conference play kicked off in the New Year.

We all know the story from there. Michigan seemed to run out of gas in what should have been a favorable starting conference schedule, dropping three of their first four and four of their first six with their only two wins coming in home nail-biters over Penn State and Nebraska.

Uncertainties in the latter half of the non-conference season turned into message board maniacs calling for this to be Beilein’s final year.

Two home blowouts over Illinois and Indiana calmed the seas temporarily before a tough loss at Michigan State and a lackadaisical home loss versus Ohio State heard those earlier calls turn into cries for the head coach to be gone — and fast.

(MGoBlue.com)

On that night, Saturday, February 4, Michigan found itself at 14-9 overall and 4-6 in conference play with very few standout wins on their resume. It would take a massive turnaround and a long look in the mirror for the team to fight its way into contention for an NCAA Tournament berth, and no one – not even those closest to the team, I reckon – saw it coming.

But come it did. Derrick Walton Jr. turned into a man possessed, knocking down everything from deep and rekindling his freshman year ability to finish at the rack. Moe Wagner realized his potential after only brief flashes as a rookie, spinning, shuffling, shooting, and driving his way to buckets. D.J. Wilson blossomed from cast-off to potential pro with athletic dishes, drained shots, and opponent shots rejected. And Zak Irvin, whose critics would make you believe he could not compete at the local YMCA, embraced his role as a senior leader and scorer, if merely as a third or fourth option at times.

The team that once left everyone guessing what would happen every time they ran onto the floor began ferociously dispatching each opponent that dared challenge them.

Michigan State was handed its worst loss in years. Indiana was dismantled on its vaunted home court. Wisconsin and Purdue, the clear frontrunners for the Big Ten title, met their fate at the hands of a team on a mission.

By the time March had rolled around, Michigan had pulled off the wholly unexpected, nearly impossible transition from conference also-ran to surefire dancer. Broadcasters still wondered what the team was made of, but those following closely knew that a seismic change had taken place.

The Wolverines were no longer prone to falling apart at the end of a game. They did not let inferior competition dig under their skin. They would not cede a game’s worth of points in a half – not any more, at least.

In reality, this new team could compete with anyone in the country, and in so many different ways. The offense was no longer great – it became otherworldly efficient. The defense was no longer passable – it became a solid unit that forced turnovers and prevented clean perimeter looks.

This team could feel as good about their chances as any other.

And so, with that edge, this team would travel to Washington, D.C., wheels rolling, to give its conference brethren a lesson in basketball.

There’s not much Michigan needed at that point to make a magical March run, the stuff legends are made of. If there was one thing, however, it was a captivating headline.

That story would be served up on a platter in a most harrowing way, as Michigan’s charter plane destined for the Big Ten Tournament skidded 400 yards off the runway, through a fence, and into a field, coming to a startling rest in a shallow ditch after the pilot decided to abort takeoff in extremely high winds.

Still, the team pushed forward with no recognizable timidity. The crash had perhaps brought them closer together, had given them a greater sense of their cause, but it did not change their play. Michigan once again blew through an Illinois team that had labeled the Wolverines as “white collar” in early January, this time in rag tag practice gear because their regular jerseys were stuck on the capsized plane.

Purdue, Minnesota, and Wisconsin would all provide different puzzles throughout the weekend, but the Maize and Blue solved each of them with a veteran mindset and plenty of talent.

With the Big Ten Tournament trophy in hand, Michigan was sent to Indianapolis as a 7-seed in the Big Dance to take on an Oklahoma State team powered by purely offensive fuel. The Wolverines took a dose but returned an even bigger dose of that medicine to the Cowboys to outlast their first round foe in an instant classic with firepower supplied by Walton.

Two days later, the Wolverines faced a Louisville squad that provided a completely different look, with length, athleticism, and defense in spades. Once again, Michigan prevailed, this time behind the sophomore duo of Wagner and Wilson, despite trailing by eight at the halfway point. March would not stop this team’s march, and another classic was in the books.

(MGoBlue.com)

Destiny was still on their side – for one more week, at least.

Unfortunately, that magic ran out too soon and too abruptly. Michigan went toe-to-toe with 3-seed Oregon for 40 minutes but made some uncharacteristic mistakes late in the game, as if their hourglass stepped in the way of what could have been. Derrick Walton’s last shot, a step-back that we had seen him hit so often over the last two months of the season that he may as well have filed for a patent, came up a couple rotations short.

Just like that, the buzzer sounded to signal the end of Michigan’s season. Destiny left the building with a new team in tow.

And that’s how – and why, perhaps – Mother Nature mourns with us today. She, like all of us, was not ready for the suddenness of it all. Storybooks are not supposed to end like this.

But that story, while it was being written, was grand. It was thrilling and exhilarating, mysterious and heartbreaking. It was frustrating at times and, yes, slogging at others. More than anything, though, this story was a memorable one that we won’t soon want to stash away to collect dust, lest we question the power of John Beilein’s teaching prowess paired with the ability of a bunch of talented, fun, good, strong-minded college basketballers.

Just as soon as the final words were penned in this story, however, a new volume’s pages are opening up, waiting to be scribbled upon.

Let’s hope this one is as enjoyable as the last.

(MGoBlue.com)

M&GB Scouting Files: 2017 UM hoops commit Isaiah Livers & MSU commit Xavier Tillman

March 14th, 2017 by Sam Sedlecky


(Crystal Vander Weit, Kalamazoo Gazette)

A couple weeks ago, I was able to watch 2017 Michigan signee Isaiah Livers play for the third time in his senior season at Kalamazoo Central before he moves to Ann Arbor for the next few years.

In the first two outings I was able to catch, Livers and his Maroon Giant teammates completely outclassed the competition to the tune of a 71-36 blowout at Portage Northern and a 93-51 massacre over Loy Norrix. Livers showed flashes of potential, but watched from the bench in the fourth quarter in both lopsided contests.

Last Friday, however, was different, as the undefeated Grand Rapids Christian Eagles made the trip down U.S. 131 to close out the regular season at Central (boasting a not-so-shabby 17-2 record themselves). Christian, led by Michigan State big man signee Xavier Tillman, Oakland wing signee James Beck, and 2018 Division-1 guard prospect Duane Washington Jr., entered the game ranked No.1 in the state by MLive, and they lived up to that ranking, pulling out a 53-51 overtime nail-biter over the home team.

Enough of the game stories, though. On to the scouting! For a refresher, you can check out my scouting report on Livers after the Portage Northern game. This report will include stats and scouting for the Loy Norrix and GR Christian games, as well as a brief scouting report on Tillman as well.

Isaiah Livers vs. Loy Norrix (93-51 W):
16 points (7-of-9 FG, 2-of-4 3pt.), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 0 turnovers, 1 foul. DNP 4th quarter

Isaiah Livers vs. GR Christian (53-51 OT L):
10 points (4-of-11 FG, 2-of-4 3pt.), 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls

There is no questioning Livers’s potential. He has good size right now at 6-foot-8, 205 pounds and should be able to tack on a few more pounds of muscle to his frame, but there’s certainly room for improvement. Let’s break down some positives and minuses

Strengths

1. Shooting:
In my first game scouting Livers, the senior did almost all of his damage inside the arc, missing his only two three-point attempts. Against Portage Northern and GR Christian, however, the Mr. Basketball finalist showed why John Beilein and company consider him a can’t-miss prospect by pouring in four threes on eight attempts and using his smooth and consistent stroke to knock down a couple midrange jumpers as well.

Livers uses his plus size and a quick enough release to shoot over the defense, and when he’s feeling it, he can be lights-out. Livers drained two threes in the first quarter of Central’s victory over Loy Norrix on his way to 10 points in the opening stanza and another seven points in the first quarter of the loss to Christian, including a triple and a couple pretty jumpers. In those two games combined, the wing prospect was 7-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-3 from deep in the first quarter.

This should correlate well to his projected future role as a microwave off the bench in his early time as a Wolverine. To earn run under Beilein, especially as a freshman, a player must knock down open shots, and Livers has the knack to come out firing – and on fire – from the get-go. We’ve all seen what happens when a designated sniper can’t find the bottom of the net, too – Ibi Watson was supposed to have that role this year, but is just 1-of-18 from three-point land and hasn’t played meaningful minutes since mid-December. If Livers can come in right away and just knock down shots, he should earn 5-8 minutes as a freshman.

2. Athleticism:
Livers’ size and shooting make him an intriguing prospect, but his athleticism is what could make him a very good college player. Livers threw down a couple monster dunks over Loy Norrix, skied for an impressive late offensive rebound over GR Christian, and had a couple springy blocks in both games. He’ll never be the fastest guy on the court, but his physical skills and quickness in short spurts give Livers a leg up and some potential positional flexibility.

3. Hands:
An underrated part of any college prospect is the ability to reliably catch passes without bobbling the ball, particularly for big men. And while Livers will not be a post player in college, it is still important for shooters to be able to catch and release without a hitch. Livers is also able to use his quick hands and length to cause some havoc on the defensive end, anticipating passes and knocking the ball loose to lead to easy transition buckets or at the very least create more possessions for his team. In the three games I scouted Livers, he registered eight steals to just three turnovers.

Weaknesses:

1. Rebounding:
In talking about what Livers will bring to Michigan, Beilein repeatedly mentions the prospect’s need to get better on the glass, and I could not agree more. While often one of the biggest (and probably the most athletic) players on the floor, Livers shows very little desire to bang on the boards. He had one impressive offensive rebound against Christian, but the majority of his boards were of the defensive variety that essentially fell into his hands.

I caught Livers just watching with his hands on his sides far too often when a shot went up – little desire to box out, little desire to go up and get it. I don’t think he’s a prima donna, but he needs to be more gritty on the glass.

2. Aggressiveness:
In total, I saw Livers play approximately 72 minutes of basketball across three games (foul trouble limited his time against Christian). In those 72 minutes of action, Livers made it to the free throw line a measly three times – all against Portage Northern.

I’ve already detailed Livers’s lack of aggressiveness in the rebounding department, but his unwillingness to drive into the teeth of the defense in search of contact is equally worrisome for a guy that projects as a 3 or 4 in Michigan’s system.

Christian’s best player on Friday night was Beck, and partially because he was able to get to the free throw line a handful of times. Livers was content to shoot from the outside and defer to his more willing teammates. On at least one occasion, the lack of aggressiveness likely led to a crucial turnover against Christian, as Livers opted to hold onto the ball for too long and then retreat when a double team closed in as opposed to taking it right at them and drawing contact.

I like Livers’s handles for his size (room for improvement, but not a glaring weakness), but he needs to trust them enough to drive past the three-point line and into the paint, where he can use his size and athleticism to finish in close.

3. Defense:
I’m going to disagree slightly with Ace Anbender’s take from his recent MGoBlog post on Livers. Livers’ athleticism allows him to be a passable defender at the high school level, but you can spot areas where a college offense could take advantage of him. I think Livers plays fine help defense and shows flashes of being a decent shot-blocker right now, but I attribute that more to his size, length, and athletic advantage at the high school level. His on-the-ball defense leaves a bit more to be desired, however.

Livers doesn’t slide his feet well enough on defense, forcing him to defend at an angle rather than perpendicularly when his opponent gets a step on him, which eventually got him into foul trouble in the most important of the three games I watched. Livers needs to get lower to the ground defensively and make sure he uses his long arms to his advantage by cutting off the drive before it happens. Some added strength will also help on this end – Beck threw down a dunk in Livers’s grill early on in the Christian game.

Current Comparison:
While disagreeing with Ace on Livers’ defense, I think he’s spot on when it comes to comparing the 2017-18 freshman to a current Michigan player – it’s D.J. Wilson all the way. Like Wilson, Livers has plus size, length, and athleticism, and can stretch a defense as a bigger wing. He’s also fairly lanky and will have to put on some weight while needing some improvement on his ability to drive the ball as well. For comparison’s sake, let’s make a quick chart to show how I think Livers and Wilson stack up with each other as high school seniors (based solely on Wilson’s film at the time):

Isaiah Livers D.J. Wilson
Shooting X
Rebounding X
Passing X
Blocking X
Ball-handling X
Aggressiveness X
Agility X
Athleticism X X
Hands X

 


Xavier Tillman – PF | 6-8, 270 | Grand Rapids, Mich. (Grand Rapids Christian)
ESPN4-star, #11 PF Rivals: 4-star, N/A 247: 4-star, #22 PF Scout: 3-star, 29 C
247 Composite: 4-star #18 PF, #86 nationally
Other top offers: Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State, Iowa, Virginia Tech, TCU, Illinois

Xavier Tillman vs. Kalamazoo Central (53-51 OT W):
9 points (4/8 FG, 1/3 FT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks, 3 steals, 5 turnovers, 4 fouls

Before seeing Tillman or Livers play, if you were told that the game you were going to watch featured two 6-foot-8 guys with one going to play for Tom Izzo and one going to play for John Beilein, you would know within a second of walking into the gym which prospect was which. Livers is tall and slender with a polished jumper. Tillman is a bulky and plodding 6-foot-8 big man who won’t dare take a shot beyond the free throw line – even in shootaround.

Once game action hit, however, I was disappointed in Tillman’s overall game at this point. He has good size and a wide body, but got winded very quickly and was frequently the last man up and down the court. Offensively, he has very little polish to his inside game, and failed to demand the ball even when matched up with much smaller defenders in an open post. Tillman actually entered the half with zero points on 0-of-3 shooting (including a missed dunk) and just one rebound before picking up a few buckets on pretty easy layups off the glass in the 3rd and 4th quarters.

The Grand Rapids native did not display many post moves, and while he is certainly physical down low, powerful on the glass, and showed good help defense, Tillman was rather careless with the ball and simply not fast enough for the Big Ten game at this point. Luckily for Izzo, Michigan State should have plenty of big men returning to give Tillman the chance to develop with a redshirt year. The high school senior picked up a couple fouls due to a lack of foot speed and getting winded, and needs to get in shape and get quicker. The closest comparison to Tillman on the Spartan roster currently is clearly Nick Ward, but Tillman lags behind Ward at the same time in their respective developments in just about every department.

Help ChadTough win $100k and you could win $100 M Den gift card

February 28th, 2017 by Justin Potts


If you read this site or follow us on Twitter, you’ve seen me post quite a bit about The ChadTough Foundation lately. As a father of three young kids, it’s something that deeply resonates with me. And with the Michigan connection, it’s something that touches the entire Michigan community.

I can’t imagine the grief of losing a kid at such a young age, so I want to fight for the thousands of kids that will get DIPG in the future, to help fund research that may one day find a cure — or at the very least a treatment — for them. I want to fight for the Carr family and for so many families like them, who at the moment have very little hope in battling a disease that carries an average lifespan of less than one year after diagnosis.

The great thing is that we can help make a difference.

Yesterday on WTKA, Tammi Carr shared news of some groundbreaking research that is being done on DIPG as a direct result of The ChadTough Foundation. DIPG receives zero federal dollars, so it is organizations like ChadTough that are making research possible.

From Chad’s tumor, which the family donated, researchers found a mutation that has never been seen in a DIPG tumor before, and because of that they know there are some medications that can impact this in other tumors. That’s a breakthrough made possible by people like you who donate, share, and vote.

So how can you help right now?

From today through Saturday, March 11, vote every single day for John Beilein to win the Infinity Coaches Challenge, which will award $100,000 to The ChadTough Foundation. That money will go directly to the accelerated pediatric brain tumor initiative at Michigan Medicine.

But wait, there’s more!

I am introducing a contest during that time span and one voter will win a $100 gift card to The M Den.

Here’s how:

The M&GB #ChadTough100 Voting Challenge
Step 1. Vote for John Beilein
Step 2. Snap a screenshot of the “Thanks for Voting” page with the date and time visible (see examples)
Step 3. Tweet OR Facebook share that photo AND copy/paste the following text into your tweet/share:
I voted for Coach Beilein to win $100k for @chadtough. Vote & you could win $100 @TheMDen gift card #chadtough100 https://goo.gl/Ukun7q
Step 4. If you don’t have Twitter or Facebook, you can email the screenshot to maizeandgoblue at yahoo dot com (once per day), but you are encouraged to tweet/share in order to spread the word
Step 5. Do it again the next day, and the next, and every day through March 11
Step 6. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers to vote daily as well
Rules and Regulations:
• Each daily tweet/Facebook share OR email will count as one entry (one entry per day per Twitter handle, Facebook name, or email address)
• The more days you vote AND tweet/share/email a screenshot as proof, the more entries you will receive
• If there is no date/time visible on screenshot, entry will not count
• If full copy from Step 3 is not pasted into your tweet/share, entry will not count
• On or after March 12, one winner will be randomly selected from all entrants
• Winner will be notified by Twitter DM or email
• Keep in mind that if you cheat to win, you’re cheating a charity. Do it the right way and vote every day.
Contest runs from 10am ET Tuesday, Feb. 28 through 3pm ET Saturday, March 11

Remember, the goal is to encourage as many people as possible to vote every day for Coach Beilein in order to win $100,000 for The ChadTough Foundation. The M Den gift card prize is just a small incentive to encourage participation. Whether or not you follow all the steps of our challenge, please vote and please share with as many friends, family, and coworkers as possible.

*I am acting as a third-party to help The ChadTough Foundation win the Infiniti Coaches Challenge. This challenge is not officially run by The ChadTough Foundation, the University of Michigan, or The M Den.*

ChadTough needs you to vote now! Seriously, do it now

February 27th, 2017 by Justin Potts


The final round of the 7th Annual Infiniti Coaches Challenge is now open. It’s time to get serious because we’re down to the final four — Coach Beilein, Matt Painter, Thad Matta, and Bob Huggins — and this is when it counts. It’s imperative to vote every day from now through Saturday, March 11 to help The ChadTough Foundation win $100,000 for DIPG research.

The Foundation plans to put ALL of the winnings toward the accelerated pediatric brain tumor initiative at Michigan Medicine!

Voting is easy — you can vote once per email address per day. All you need is an account with ESPN.com. Visit espn.com/infiniti to vote for Coach Beilein.

I strongly encourage you to sign up for daily email reminders at chadtough.org/vote so you won’t forget to vote on a Saturday or on that day you have wall-to-wall meetings or while traveling for business.

Thank you! Let’s win this for Chad, the Carrs, and Michigan!