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Posts Tagged ‘Center’

New in Blue: 2017 C Cesar Ruiz

Monday, December 19th, 2016


(Andrew Ivins, 247 Sports)

Cesar Ruiz – C | 6-3, 315 | Bradenton, Fla. (IMG Academy)
ESPN4-star, #1 C Rivals: 4-star, #1 C 247: 4-star, #1 C Scout: 4-star, #2 C
247 Composite: 4-star #1 C
Other top offers: Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, FSU, LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, Texas A&M

After grabbing two of the nation’s top receivers last week in Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan missed out on one of the top offensive tackles in Isaiah Wilson, who chose Georgia. Today, the Wolverines bounced back with a commitment from the No. 1 center in the nation, Cesar Ruiz. The Bradenton, Fla. resident pledged his commitment to Michigan just after noon Eastern on Monday.

Ruiz is a consensus four-star according to the four major recruiting services. All but Scout rank him the top center in the 2017 class, while Scout ranks him second behind Texas Tech commit Jack Anderson. 247 Sports ranks Ruiz the highest nationally as the 66th best overall player in the class. ESPN ranks him 69th, Rivals 77th, and Scout 100th. He’s the No. 1 center and 58th-best overall player in the class according to the 247 Composite.

Ruiz, who is originally from Camden, N.J., chose the Wolverines over a final group that also included Florida and Auburn. Michigan has long been considered the favorite to land Ruiz despite the 6-foot-3, 315-pounder holding offers from most of the nation’s top schools, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M, to name a few.

Scout lists Ruiz’s strengths as body control and balance, explosion, and quickness off ball, while listing his areas to improve as flexibility and technique. Scout’s Brian Dohn expands on that.

“Ruiz plays with a low pad level and explodes well. He is quick to the second level and his agility allows him to manipulate his body and make square blocks on smaller targets. He has a strong initial punch and once engaged, he drives his legs and turns the defensive play to open a hole. He retreats well in pass protection and he reads blitzes well. Adding more knee bend and getting his hands inside more are key to his development.”

Ruiz is the 23rd member of the 2017 class and the 11th on the offensive side of the ball, joining Ja’Raymond Hall, Andrew Stueber, Joel Honigford, Phillip Paea, and Kai-Leon Herbert as offensive linemen in the class. It’s rare for a true freshman to start on the offensive line, but with most of this season’s line departing and not much proven depth behind them, there’s a chance for that to happen next fall.

Michigan basketball 2015 season preview: D.J. Wilson

Thursday, November 5th, 2015


DJ Wilson(Dustin Johnson, UMHoops)

While we’re in the midst of football season – a season of rebirth and return of the Michigan of old – college basketball is surprisingly just around the corner. Michigan Basketball tips off their own season next week with a team that is looking to prove that last year’s mediocrity is firmly in the past. As usual, we will begin to preview the season looking at the newest and youngest players first before finishing with the seniors (they exist this year!).

#5 D.J. Wilson
Class Redshirt Freshman DJ Wilson headshot
Major Undecided
Measurements 6’10”, 240
Hometown Sacramento, Calif.
High School Capital Christian School
Position(s) Wing, Center
Committed Oct. 6, 2013
Fun Fact Has a 7’3″ wing span
Career Stats
Pts Reb Ast Stl TO Min FG% 3Pt% FT%
2014-15 0.4 1.2 0 0 0.2 4.8 25.0 0.0 0.0
Career 0.4 1.2 0 0 0.2 4.8 25.0 0.0 0.0

Last year’s preview

Career to Date: D.J. Wilson arrived in Ann Arbor last summer as a mostly unheralded freshman coming off of a back injury that slowed him during his high school years. During some scattered minutes on the floor in Michigan’s first five games, Wilson looked mostly like a clueless freshman on the floor, often running around like a headless chicken.

But there were some flashes of potential. Wilson’s impressive 7-foot-3 wingspan allowed him to get beat once or twice and still recover for a block, while his athleticism and shooting stroke turned some heads in practices and warmups.

Early on, however, Wilson suffered a knee injury that sealed his freshman year fate. If it wasn’t already clear before, the redshirt became imminently obvious within a couple games of Wilson riding the bench. The Sacramento native healed throughout the season and finished the year at full strength, but never saw the floor again after the Wolverine’s nailbiter loss to Villanova on November 25. He’d finish the season learning the offense and balling on the practice squad.

Wilson would go on to spend his summer in Ann Arbor training in the now-fabled Camp Sanderson and packing on muscle to his lanky frame. He reportedly gained nearly 25 pounds while adding a crazy seven inches to his vertical leap – all the more impressive considering Wilson was no slouch athletically, especially for his size.

Now, it’s time to see what the real D.J. Wilson can do. He’s received praise from a number of sources close to the team, including John Beilein himself, for making noticeable strides on the court while improving his body. Wilson was also the standout during an open practice on Monday night, showing off a nice bank shot from the elbow during fast break drills while knocking down a couple long shots and grabbing a few impressive rebounds during 5-on-5 scrimmage; nearly all his minutes came at the wing (4) position, but what stood out most was his comfort level in the flow of the game. Minutes will certainly be difficult to come by in a stacked rotation, but Wilson has the tools to earn them if he puts it all together.

What We Know

1. Wilson is versatile: Ask D.J. Wilson to describe his game, and the first thing he will say is that he likes to provide versatility. I don’t think I could come up with a better word myself. Wilson has a solid body for a big man but skills to thrive on the wing. He is quick enough to guard an opposing four but long and strong enough to pester a big man. His shot can stretch out to three-point land, but Wilson is also a terrific athlete for his size and should develop into a good finisher at the rim. During Monday’s scrimmage, Wilson played almost exclusively at the four position, which could be hugely important as Zak Irvin continues to recover from back surgery and projects to at least be limited for a couple weeks. D.J. didn’t disappoint. He looked confident with his outside shot and rarely hesitated – unlike early on last year – and his size really stood out. Wilson could also see time down low in a pinch, however, giving him a good chance to earn minutes regardless of the starting lineup and early rotation.

2. Oozes Potential: Athleticism can go a long way in basketball. That’s doubly true if you are 6-foot-10 with a head of hair measuring well over 7-foot and arms stretching 7-foot-3 across. That’s what D.J. Wilson is working with. And, oh yeah, he is also comfortable shooting from just about anywhere on the floor. Offensively, we’ve already discussed where Wilson could fit in – either at the four or the five slot – but defensively he could have even more potential. On Monday, Wilson played a few possessions at the top of a 1-3-1 zone. That is a hypothetically devastating change-of-pace defense considering opposing offenses also have five fewer seconds to work with on the shot clock this season. I truly think that D.J. Wilson has one of the highest ceilings on this Michigan team. He’s a gifted player that seems to be just figuring out his game; with Beilein, I think there’s a good chance that Wilson comes close to reaching his potential as a killer inside-out threat on offense and a shot-blocking/turnover-creating mad man on defense.

What We Don’t Know

1. So he has potential. Can he reach it? I keep using that word – potential. D.J. Wilson has a lot of it, but at this point, that’s about all he has too. Outside of one short practice open to the public, there are still plenty of questions concerning the redshirt freshman’s ability to fine-tune his play. Those concerns have to be exacerbated a bit considering just how lost Wilson looked on both ends of the floor early last year, but one would think a year of watching and learning will help him get acclimated on the floor and develop chemistry with his teammates. Still, in the end, Wilson needs to turn that potential into results.

2. Can he carve out a niche? Wilson will have opportunities to earn minutes, especially early on this season while Zak Irvin (and to a lesser extent as regards to its impact on Wilson’s minutes, Spike Albrecht) recovers from an offseason injury, but will he be able to seize them and carve out a reliable spot in the rotation? Based off his spot on the first team in Monday’s open practice, Wilson seems to be on the right track, but there is no shortage of talent on this roster and no lack of guys fighting for the same minutes. Wilson could even find himself in the starting lineup at the four if Irvin is not back yet (which seems pretty likely at this time). Kam Chatman, Duncan Robinson, and Moritz Wagner will also be vying for those minutes, however, and Beilein will be sure to experiment plenty while figuring out his best lineups and rotations throughout November. If Wilson slips up a couple times on the wing, those teammates will be happy to eat up the extra minutes. Luckily, Wilson’s versatility should give him a chance to earn minutes at the five as well, but Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal figure to feature prominently there too.

Burning Question: Has Wilson started to put the complete package together?

The athleticism has always been there, the size is now there, and the shooting and rebounding should be there too, but are the intangibles in place for Wilson to feature as a significant piece this season? It would be impressive to say the least for the once-lost freshman to earn a solid spot in the rotation in his second freshman season, and all signs point to that being a good possibility.

Favorite Big Ten Opponent: N/A

The Last Word: I was very high on Wilson’s game coming out of high school, and though maybe that wasn’t completely wrong, I was clearly off in my prediction that he would be a key piece as a true freshman. Somewhat luckily for my miserable guesses, however, Wilson really didn’t get the chance to fully showcase himself in a shortened year. I’m high on him again this year too, though, and think that D.J. Wilson’s court awareness should begin to match his burgeoning toolkit this season under John Beilein, Jeff Meyer, and Bacari Alexander. I think Wilson will earn a spot in the rotation backing up the four (and I will officially predict that he starts the season opener) even after Irvin’s full return while also seeing spot minutes at center. Wilson just has too many skills to keep off the floor entirely, and I think we’ll see plenty more flashes this go-round mixed in with a handful of head scratchers. Overall, Wilson will be solid – and as Marshawn Lynch knows, that’s a good thing.

Stat Predictions: 5.0 points (50.0 FG%, 35 3-PT%, 70 FT%), 3.0 rebounds, .5 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks in 11 minutes per game.

Michigan basketball 2015 season preview: Moritz Wagner

Friday, October 23rd, 2015


Wagner

While we’re in the midst of football season – a season of rebirth and return of the Michigan of old – college basketball is surprisingly just around the corner. Michigan Basketball tips off their own season in three weeks with a team that is looking to prove that last year’s mediocrity is firmly in the past. As usual, we will begin to preview the season looking at the newest and youngest players first before finishing with the seniors (they exist this year!).

#13 Moritz Wagner
Measurements 6’10”, 225 Moritz Wagner
Hometown Berlin, Germany
High School Alba Berlin
High School Stats (2014-15) 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 56.6% FG, 31.6% 3pt., 1.6 assists in 22.5 minutes per game
AAU N/A
Projected Position(s) Forward/Center
Committed April 5, 2015
Major Suitors Auburn, Virginia, Providence
Chance of Redshirt 90 percent
Recruiting Rankings
Rivals 4-star – Not ranked
ESPN N/A
247 4-star – Overall: 118, Position: 31, State: 1 (Berlin), Grade: 93
Scout 4-star – Overall: 133
247 Composite N/A
Background

Now in his ninth season as the head basketball coach in Ann Arbor, John Beilein has made it clear that the conventional way is not always the right way in his eyes. He won’t recruit players just because they are quick or athletic or big – they need to have the intangibles as well. And he won’t limit his recruiting footprint either.

After bringing in a pair of freshmen from the West Coast last year, Beilein traveled over the Atlantic Ocean to woo and eventually sign his latest recruit.

Moritz Wagner, a tall, lanky, and mysterious prospect who is either a season away from the NBA or a season away from competing for college minutes depending on who you listen to, is actually the second German commit that Beilein has taken while at Michigan, but he’s the first to pass the NCAA clearinghouse after Robin Benzing reportedly missed out by a matter of points on a standardized test in 2008.

Wagner is also the only new (scholarship) face on the Michigan roster this year after last year’s freshmen-laden and injury-riddled squad failed to make any postseason tournament. Essentially, Wagner was hand-picked by Beilein and his assistants to replace Max Bielfeldt, who decided to play out his college eligibility under Tom Crean at Indiana after being told that there was no room left at the inn in Ann Arbor.

The German native left a blooming pro career with Alba Berlin to play college ball in the United States in the hopes of gaining more exposure and eventually landing in the NBA. And though Beilein made a secret trip overseas to scout his future signee, it’s no secret that Wagner has big aspirations – and it’d be hard to argue his choice to play under a coach who has established a professional basketball factory in Michigan.

Video





What He Will Provide

1. Prototypical Beilein: Wagner is the type of player that comes to mind when thinking about a European big man. He’s not big-boned (though he is reportedly putting on good weight), he’s more comfortable facing the basket from 15-20 feet than backing down a defender, and his shot and handles are both much more refined than most American big men at his age (18). As he continues to develop, Wagner should be an exact match for what Beilein loves in his 4 position – a sizeable wing player who can dribble, drive, shoot, pass, and rebound.

2. Size: This goes hand-in-hand with Wagner being a prototypical Beilein player, but it’s worth noting that the German will provide great size at the position he best projects to. Not many 6-foot-10 college players can face up from 22 feet on offense and then body up an opposing center defensively. When he reaches his peak, Wagner should possess an incredible skill set along with a body that can dominate on both sides of the court.

3. Multidimensionality: Hypothetically, Wagner could play three positions in John Beilein’s offense at Michigan – anywhere from the 3 to the 5. So far, Wagner is already being tasked with learning the 4 and 5 under Beilein, but with a couple years of practice, learning, and added quickness, it just might be feasible to throw out a skilled 6-foot-10 player at the 3 spot as well. Regardless, Wagner certainly should be a matchup nightmare regardless of where he logs most of his minutes.

What He Will Have to Work On

1. Grasping the Game: This is one of those keys that could be written for any freshmen coming in under Beilein, but it probably goes twofold for Wagner. Not only is Moe trying to learn one of the most complicated offensive systems in college basketball – he’s also trying to learn two positions within that system while acclimating to life in a brand new world. It goes without saying that there will be quite a learning curve for this freshman, which is not the worst thing considering the depth this Wolverine squad will feature.

2. Consistent Shooting: One of the most enticing parts of Wagner’s game is that he can pull opposing defenders outside their comfort zone and knock down anything from the midrange to the three, but most have noted that Wagner is not quite consistent enough yet to be a legitimate shooting threat in this offense. Again, though, this is far from concerning considering Beilein’s individual prowess in improving his protégé’s shooting stroke and decision-making.

Burning Question

What spot will Moritz Wagner eventually carve out? And just how good can he be?

Moritz Wagner is perhaps the biggest question mark recruit to step on campus in the past decade. He’s a young player who was very good on a youth club team in Europe, but he’s extremely raw. His 6-foot-10 frame should provide a good amount of versatility for Beilein and his guard-like skill set could be devastating to opposing defenses, but where will Wagner thrive? I personally think the 4 is his obvious landing spot, but players and recruits like D.J. Wilson, Kameron Chatman, and Austin Davis could also figure into the same position long-term, leaving a huge question mark in terms of minutes. And though Wagner has been hyped by some as a top-40 caliber player would he have been scouted alongside Americans, there is really no way to know what he will become. His potential is seemingly through the roof, but foreign players also typically have a lower floor – just ask Pistons fans about Darko. It’s going to take Wagner some time before he carves out consistent minutes at the four, and it’s going to take a lot of work to thrive, but I think he’ll be a solid role player by the time his upperclassmen years arrive.

Stat Prediction

Redshirt

Bottom Line

Michigan simply has too much depth and too many proven pieces this year to see any scenario in which Wagner earns consistent minutes. John Beilein has commended his young pupil for his strong work ethic and quick learning, but I think Wagner will take a while to pick up on everything. With a more veteran lineup leading the way this season, expect to hear more about Moe’s progress on the practice court than seeing it in the game.

Recruiting profile: 2015 OL signee Jon Runyan Jr.

Friday, February 20th, 2015


Runyan(MaxPreps)

Previously: 2015 TE Chris Clark, 2015 CB Iman Marshall, 2015 QB Zach Gentry, 2015 RB Karan Higdon

Jon Runyan Jr. – OL | 6-4, 276 | Philadelphia, Pa. – St. Joseph’s
ESPN: 3-star, #96 OT Rivals: 3-star, #45 OG 247: 3-star, #163 OT Scout: 3-star, #39 OG
Other top offers:

The son of the former Michigan and NFL offensive tackle of the same name, Jon Runyan Jr. committed to the Wolverines nearly two years ago, coming off just his junior year of high school. Runyan Jr. is significantly smaller than his father and is no lock to remain at offensive tackle in college (his frame profiles better on the inside), but he possesses the tools of a future Big Ten starter. Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno stress physical and tough offensive line play, two things which Runyan Jr. has plenty of.

Athleticism

Athleticism - Jon Runyan JrRunyan Jr. doesn’t just have the frame of a big tight end, he has the athletic ability of one too. He has the quickness out of his stance and the overall movement skills that would be coveted by a team that is heavy on zone blocking schemes. Runyan Jr. moves very well laterally and downfield and his athletic talent aids him best as a moving run blocker more so than as a pass protector. He was used as an eligible receiver at times with St. Joseph’s and could be used in the same capacity with the Wolverines, either as an extra blocker or on a tight end screen. If Runyan Jr. can continue to improve his body and add strength without sacrificing much quickness, he will have an excellent physical base from which he can develop as a blocker.

Pass Blocking

Pass Blocking - Jon Runyan JrWhile he might have manned the blind side as a prep last season, don’t expect Runyan Jr. to do so at the next level, nor would he be expected to with Mason Cole holding down the job last year as a true freshman. Runyan Jr. simply doesn’t have the length or power to hold up at left tackle, and would be better served as an interior lineman or as a right tackle. His ability to anchor is a serious question considering he is a lightweight at this point in time and did not show any dominant ability to stonewall pass rushers. His height and arm length are also red flags and are below average for an offensive tackle. If Runyan Jr. can take full advantage of the strength and training program when he gets on campus he will be able to become an at least average pass protector and could contribute after a redshirt season.

Run Blocking

Run Blocking - Jon Runyan JrDon’t let his underwhelming size fool you, Runyan Jr. is a dominating run blocker. His ability to fight through the whistle and to block opposing defenders five yards downfield is impressive and should catch the eye of this coaching staff which will seek to impose a tough and physical mindset in the offensive trenches. Runyan Jr. gets into his blocks quickly and can generate movement off the line with sheer fight and effort. Even more impressive, however, is his ability to block on the move, which includes releasing off of double teams and getting out to the second level, and coming around the opposite side of the line on pulls. Runyan Jr. has an impressive ability to latch on to targets in space and is difficult to disengage from in the running game. His ability to open up holes and seal off defenders in the running game should allow him to play any of the four positions to the right of the blindside spot.

Technique

Technique - Jon Runyan JrFew offensive linemen come out of high school with good technique, let alone college prospects moving up to the pros, but Runyan Jr. shows solid technique for his level of play at this stage. Quick hands, balance, and leg drive allow him to maintain good positioning and engage with his opponents. He also shows clean footwork and solid angles to block on the move and at the second level. The biggest areas that Runyan Jr. needs to work on are his ability to maintain leverage and proper pad level, and better hip snap into contact. Overall, the fact that he is the son of a former offensive lineman is apparent in his play.

Bottom Line

The Wolverines have suffered from subpar offensive line play for the past few seasons and should be welcoming any new blood that can help shore up this area of weakness. However, Runyan Jr. is still at least a year away from contributing and needs some serious work in the weight room before he is physically up to snuff. I may only be giving Runyan Jr. a two star grade, but this an indication of what he can do now, and not necessarily what he can do in the future. From what I have seen, he could play a very good offensive guard or center, but as I have stressed, a lot of this comes down to the assumption that he can get bigger and stronger with a redshirt. All things considered, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Runyan Jr. crack a spot in the starting lineup as a sophomore.

MG&B Grade (out of 10)
7.8 (2-star)

Alex is currently a senior at UM-Dearborn and has a background in scouting and player evaluation, having learned from some of the best in the business. He contributes a weekly recruit profile/evaluation piece each Friday. Visit our Meet the Staff page to read more about Alex.

Michigan basketball position preview: The bigs

Friday, November 14th, 2014


2014-BBall-FreshmanPreview-BigMen

Now that we have already broken down Michigan’s freshmen and analyzed the point guard and wing positions, let’s preview the biggest unknown for the Wolverines — the bigs. Michigan graduated Jordan Morgan and lost Jon Horford and Mitch McGary to transfer and the NBA Draft, respectively, last season. Now, the Maize and Blue look to replace the lost production with a stable of inexperienced big men and one rarely used senior.

The Starter

#34 Mark Donnal – 6’9, 240 – Redshirt Freshman
2013-14 stats: N/A (redshirt)
Projected 2014-15 stats: 5.3 pts (55% FG, 35% 3pt, 68% FT), 3.8 reb, .5 ast, .4 blk, .4 stl, .4 TO, 20 min/game

With a year of practice under his belt, Mark Donnal looks to be the safe bet to start at the five – at least early in the season. The Toledo native provides Beilein with yet another shooting threat, and Donnal has bulked up after being far too skinny to play last season.

But there is clearly work to be done. In Michigan’s exhibition win over Wayne State, Mark Donnal started down low but looked timid at times and struggled to deal with contact around the basket. With his body starting to fill out, Donnal simply needs to be strong with the basketball in his hands, get good position on the boards, and battle with what he has. He’ll look to add more muscle next offseason, but it’s very difficult to put on any weight during the grueling season.

This year, Donnal won’t be asked to carry much of the scoring load, but I really like his versatility and all-around game. When I scouted him in a high school game, Donnal shot beautifully from deep but also showcased an array of face-up and back-to-the-basket moves for easy finishes at the rim in addition to a couple monster dunks and blocks. The competition is obviously a few steps above the high school level, but Donnal’s outside-in skillset is hard to deny.

Donnal also runs the court very well and showcased an intelligent Euro-style slap-out on offensive misses in the exhibition game. Most players simply look to corral the rebound, but Donnal knows that if he can’t grab it, he can at least try to slap it back outside, where his guards are likely to get the rebound.

The Backups

#32 Ricky Doyle – 6’9″, 245 – Freshman

For a complete look at Doyle, please see his freshman preview.

Ricky Doyle is the yin to Mark Donnal’s yang. Where Donnal excels further from the basket and should develop into a nice perimeter threat while continuing to work on his game down low, Doyle is a true old-school post. Doyle loves to catch the ball with his back to the basket, make one move, and put it up. Beilein raved about Doyle’s hook shot during Media Day, and Doyle’s willingness to bang in the post makes him the most similar returning player to Jordan Morgan.

Doyle’s strengths this year will lie in his rebounding ability and his passing. He had a couple nice dishes on Monday despite not recording an assist, and his 2/2 line from the field should be pretty typical – he’s not going to shoot or score much, but he is also not going to take many risky shots. Doyle’s big body and strength will be key when Michigan faces the likes of Arizona, Wisconsin, and Syracuse this year.

So while Doyle’s skillset seems most typical and perhaps the safest of Michigan’s bigs, his shortcomings make him the clear backup at this point. The worry with keeping Doyle on the floor too long stems from two areas: defense and handling. Doyle has worked long and hard in the weight room to improve his strength and quickness, but he is still clearly too slow to defender quicker bigs or provide adequate help defense.

During Media Day, Assistant Jeff Meyer was going through a simple defensive shuffle drill with everyone. When Meyer pointed left, the players needed to shuffle as quickly as possible that direction; when he pointed right, they’d change direction. The majority of the players were able to take two or three shuffle steps in both direction every time Meyer pointed; Doyle, however, would barely get his shuffle foot down once before having to shuffle the opposite way. In another drill where the bigs practiced hedging screens, Doyle let Spike Albrecht split through him and the screened defender as if no one was there two straight times. Beilein had to stop the drill and give Doyle a word of advice.

When it comes to handling, Doyle almost treats the ball as a grenade that would explode if it hit the floor. He is far from a confident dribbler at this point and will be an easy pick-pocket if he holds onto the ball too long. Throughout the season, you may even be able to count the number of dribbles Doyle takes on two hands.

#5 D.J. Wilson – 6’9″, 220 – Freshman

For a complete look at Wilson, please see his freshman preview.

Wilson’s natural position at Michigan will end up being on the wing, as previewed in our piece earlier this week, but he will also see some minutes at the five backing up Donnal and Doyle. Like Donnal, Wilson presents a deep threat that will force defenses to spread the floor.

Unlike either Donnal or Doyle, though, Wilson lacks the size to bang too much with opposing bigs. Wilson will likely be a fouling liability if he is to play big minutes at the five, but I still think his versatility and shot blocking provide some interesting options for Beilein down low.

Right now, Wilson looks a little bit more comfortable on the wing facing up, but he’ll continue to learn both positions and is willing to help out wherever he is needed.

#44 Max Bielfeldt – 6’7″, 245 – Senior
2013-14 stats: .8 pts (28.6% FG, 33.3% 3pt, 0% FT), 1.1 blk, .1 blk, .1 stl, .1 TO, 4.7 min/game
Projected 2014-15 stats: 0.8 pts (40% FG, 30% 3pt, 50% FT), 1.0 reb, .1 blk, .1 stl, .2 TO, 2 min/game

Max Bielfeldt committed to Michigan over Illinois a few years back but has found himself buried on the depth chart throughout his college career to date. This year, it looks like he again finds himself behind three freshmen at the five and may be relegated to providing strong leadership in practice and in the locker room.

Unfortunately for Bielfeldt, he simply lacks the size, skill, and athleticism to compete at center at the highest level right now, but he certainly showcases strong effort on the court. In the exhibition game, Bielfeldt sat out the entire first half but came in early in the second half and had a nice spurt resulting in five points, an offensive rebound, and two blocks in just seven minutes of play, so he’s certainly making a case.

We may see some spot minutes from Bielfeldt early on in the season as Michigan breaks in a slew of new big bodies who could struggle with foul trouble, but as those freshmen continue to mature and grasp the offense, Bielfeldt’s minutes will start to decline.

Minute Breakdown:

5-spot (traditional center):
20 Mark Donnal
14 Ricky Doyle
4 D.J. Wilson
2 Max Bielfeldt

Michigan basketball season preview: Freshman Ricky Doyle

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014


2014-BBall-FreshmanPreview-RickyDoyle

Michigan Basketball is right around the corner, and it’s time now to start looking at the new and returning Wolverines as we begin to preview the upcoming 2014-15 season. As in the past, we will begin by taking a look at the unknowns – the freshmen – and continue with position-by-position breakdowns featuring the rest of the squad and conclude with a complete season preview, including our picks for breakout players, team MVP, record, postseason finish, and more. Get excited!

First up is freshman big man Ricky Doyle.

#32 Ricky Doyle
Measurements 6’9″, 245

7/18/14 Men's basketball promos

Hometown Cape Coral, Fla.
High School Bishop Verot HS
High School Stats (2012-13) 24.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 blocks per game
AAU SWFL Gold
Projected Position(s) Center
Committed March 11, 2013
Major Suitors Miami (FL), Boston College, Notre Dame
Chance of Redshirt 0 percent
Recruiting Rankings
Rivals 3-star – Not ranked
Scout 3-star – Not ranked
ESPN 3-star – Position: 22, State: 9, Grade: 78
247 3-star – Overall: 212, Position: 55, State: 22, Grade: 88
247 Composite 4-star – Overall: 203, Position: 50, State: 21

Background: Ricky Doyle is in a unique position on this year’s Michigan basketball team as probably both the most important newcomer for this season’s squad while also being the biggest unknown. Hailing from Southwest Florida, Doyle never faced great high school competition, often towering over his opponents and seeing consistent double- and triple-teams. He also stayed away from the AAU scene for the most part, preferring to work on his game under the tutelage of his father Richard, who himself played professionally in France for 11 seasons.

Ricky Doyle

When the big man committed more than a year and a half ago, he could have never imagined the situation he’d be in when arriving in Ann Arbor. At the time, Michigan was preparing to make a run that would eventually turn into a magical NCAA runner-up finish. Jordan Morgan would be a fifth-year senior the next season, Mitch McGary was thought to be a surefire NBA lottery pick after his dominant tourney performance, and Jon Horford seemed like the heir apparent while then-commit Mark Donnal would be the back-up. Doyle, the big man whom little was known about, would have plenty of time to develop under the tutelage of John Beilein and Bacari Alexander before ever seeing meaningful minutes.

One year later and everything had changed. Morgan’s eligibility indeed ran out, but Mitch McGary ended up staying in Ann Arbor an extra season only to be forced into declaring for the Draft in early 2014 after testing positive for marijuana, Horford decided to transfer for his final year of college basketball, and Donnal redshirted his first year in Ann Arbor.

All of a sudden, the largest of doors had opened for Doyle without so much as a push.

Sensing the unexpected opportunity, Doyle went to work, packing on some muscle while reportedly following a personalized practice and workout regimen right from the hands of the Michigan coaching staff. He then went on to arrive on campus weeks before he needed to in order to put in extra work with strength and conditioning guru Jon Sanderson.

Now the one-time afterthought is sure to have a major hand in what is to come this season. In the Wolverines’ summer trip to Italy, Doyle looked up to the challenge, scoring 11.5 points per game while also leading the team with eight boards an outing – besting presumed starter Donnal in both departments – off the bench.

The once gangly looking high schooler also looks more the part of a Division I contributor these days with a svelte 6’9″, 245-point frame and reported 7’2″ wingspan.

So the question now is not whether or not Ricky Doyle will get a chance to show what he’s got as a freshman. The question, of course is whether Ricky Doyle is up for the challenge.

Video:



What He Will Provide:

1. A true back-to-the-basket presence: Throughout John Beilein’s coaching career, one could probably count the number of true big men he’s rostered on one hand. Put one more finger up for Doyle, though, because everything about him screams low-post player. Doyle showcases an array of moves on the block, many starting with his back to his defender, and finishes at a very high clip.

A few things really stand out about the three videos above in this regard. First, in the Italy cut-up, the big man does not put the ball on the floor a single time, rather preferring to put it in the hole with a quick and simple one- or two-step move. Second, Doyle will make big man assistant Bacari Alexander sleep a little more soundly at night because he never takes the ball low after catching an entry pass. I have spoken with Alexander numerous times about how much it frustrates him when a big man does this, but Doyle looks very smart in this department. Lastly, the Floridian is adept at finishing around the basket with both hands off his arsenal of moves and rarely takes a shot he’s uncomfortable with.

2. Rebounding: Highlight videos generally skip over more of the blue collar work that players put in on the court, and this is mostly the case here with Doyle, but the reports of his rebounding prowess are enough to list this as a strength for me. After Mitch McGary’s fleeting career that promised so many more big-time rebounds came to an end this spring, Michigan fans were left wondering where this team’s work on the boards would come from. Enter Doyle, who led the team in rebounding in Italy, has the size and willpower to bang down low, and should be much more focused on gathering than scoring, and we could have a very good rebounder on our hands.

3. Defensive Presence: Doyle will undoubtedly have plenty of growing up to do on the defensive side of the court, especially once a bevy of strong post players comes in Big Ten play, but he has the size, wingspan, and instincts to at least provide some defensive presence and make guards think twice about driving to his protected basket – another skill that’s been lacking of late in Ann Arbor.

What He Will Have to Work On:

1. Adapting to the college game: All freshmen will have some growing up to do, but few will be asked to do it as fast and at as tough a position as Doyle. To make things even more interesting, Doyle is not the most hyped recruit out there and has unfortunately spent the bulk of his career facing far over-matched teams on the high school circuit. Guys like Frank Kaminsky, Kaleb Tarczewski, and A.J. Hammons will be licking their chops going into their game(s) against Michigan if Doyle doesn’t show a ferocious competitive side early on in his career. One stat to keep an eye on here: fouls per 40 minutes. Doyle fouled more than any other Wolverine in Italy and will need to be careful about how many ticky-tack violations he is picking up while getting acclimated to this level.

2. Free throw shooting: Because Beilein teams are usually packed with outside shooters, free throw shooting is generally not a huge issue, but Ricky Doyle looks to have some work to put in at the charity stripe after making 60 percent in his four games overseas. If he can make his freebies consistently at a 60-65 percent clip, that will be a win for the Maize and Blue, but if his percentage starts dipping closer to the 50-50 range, teams could start to employ the hack-a-Shaq strategy early and often.

3. Range: Michigan does not lack in the shooting department, something that always makes them so tough to guard, and Ricky Doyle is a ways off from being asked to contribute anything more than finishing around the paint, but eventually the young big will have to at least make defenders respect him from 12-15 feet in order to reach his potential. Doyle looks well on his way to doing that, but it’s something he will have to continue to work on.

Burning Question: Will Ricky Doyle be a liability on the floor?

Perhaps this question is a bit blunt and unfair, but it’s the one thing everyone is dying to know. Most Michigan fans are level-headed and understand that Ricky Doyle is not going to come in and be a Trey Burke-level world-beater. Those types of players are once-in-a-decade types, and even rarer when it comes to big men, but Doyle is going to need to play at least 10-20 minutes per game. In that time on the floor, will Michigan be able to hold up against more experienced, savvy opposing centers, or will the Wolverines be scrambling to get the freshman off the floor and in the Player Development Center more?

Stat Predictions: 6.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, 0.3 assists, 0.8 turnovers, 59% FG, 57% FT, 17 minutes per game

Bottom Line: Doyle seems to be putting in the work necessary to be the role player he will asked to be early on in his college career. Look for him to have his ups and downs like any freshman, but the less he’s noticed, the better it should be. He’ll be a solid, if quiet, contributor this season.

New in Blue: Center Jon Teske

Thursday, August 7th, 2014



Jon Teske (John Kuntz, The Plain Dealer)

Jon Teske – C | 6’11”, 210 | Medina, Ohio – Medina
ESPN: N/A Rivals: N/A 247: N/A Scout: 3-star, #15 C
Other top offers: Ohio State, Dayton

Michigan stayed hot on the recruiting trail on Thursday afternoon, picking up a third commitment in two days, this time getting basketball big man Jon Teske. Just a day after Williams College transfer Duncan Robinson announced his intentions to transfer to Michigan, Teske, who will be a high school junior this winter, pledged his commitment to the Wolverines.

At 6’11”, 210, Teske has the kind of size the program has lacked in recent years. Even if he doesn’t get any taller in the next two years, he will be the tallest player Michigan has had since seven-footer Ben Cronin (2008-10), whose career was derailed due to injury. Mitch McGary, Jon Horford, and Blake McLimans were each 6’10”. Whether or not he gains another inch or two, he will surely put on more weight to his thin frame, and it will be needed in order to compete in the Big Ten.

Scout is the only recruiting site that has ranked class of 2016 guys and they have him as a three star. But with two years between now and the time he gets to campus, there’s plenty of room to move up.

Teske received an offer from John Beilein on June 15, the same day he also received an offer from Thad Matta and Ohio State. Dayton is the only other offer he had, but he reportedly had interest from Indiana, Purdue, Xavier, West Virginia, and Cincinnati.

As a sophomore at Medina, Teske averaged 12 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks per game. The Bees finished the season 19-7 overall and 7-2 in their conference. Medina is the same school that sent Kenny Kaminski to Michigan State, and even though Kaminski is no longer on the team, if Teske can make the same type of impact on the court early in his career, Michigan will be pleased.

He’s the first commitment in the 2016 class, and by the time he gets to Michigan, the team may look vastly different. This year’s freshmen, D.J. Wilson, Kameron Chatman, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Aubrey Dawkins, and Ricky Doyle will be entering their third season in the program, and Derrick Walton Jr, Zak Irvin, and Mark Donnal will entering their fourth. And that’s if none goes pro early, which is unlikely given the success Beilein’s system has had the past few seasons.

Countdown to kickoff: 60 days

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014


Countdown to kickoff-60(Paul Sherman, The Michigan Daily)

Predicting Michigan: The offensive line

Monday, June 30th, 2014


Predicting Michigan-OL

Kyle-Kalis

Michigan’s offense was difficult to watch for much of the 2013 season as a normally-reliable Wolverine rushing attack imploded before vanishing from the offense by the middle of Big Ten play.

To compensate for the struggles on the ground, quarterback Devin Gardner was asked to drop back on more than half of the team’s snaps. Unfortunately for Gardner, he was almost never alone in the backfield. The middle of the offensive line was a sieve and turned the mobile quarterback into a proverbial tackling dummy.

Despite the group’s struggles, both tackles, Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, were selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, further weakening the unit and raising major question marks for Brady Hoke and his new-look offensive staff.

The Starters

Perhaps the brightest spot on Michigan’s offensive line comes in the form of two talented young guards. Sophomore left guard Kyle Bosch and redshirt sophomore right guard Kyle Kalis played a major role on the line last season and hope to solidify a group that lost its two leaders during the offseason.

Kalis had a breakout 2013 season, starting eight games and lining up with  Schofield to form a right side that largely held its own during the majority of the season. The redshirt sophomore is the strongest run blocker on the team and will play a huge role in turning around the running game.

Bosch blossomed much later in the campaign than Kalis, earning his first start against Michigan State because of his teammates’ struggles during the first half of the season. With the departure of Lewan from the left side, Bosch will have to improve his run blocking game, which was his calling card during high school.

In between the two strong guards Michigan returns center Jack Miller, who struggled for much of 2013 but started four games for Al Borges. Miller earned the starting spot after a strong offseason, and will likely start Week 1 while Graham Glasgow serves a one-game suspension for an offseason offense.

Michigan needs Miller to decrease his mental errors after he snapped the ball several yards over Gardner’s head and fumbled exchanges as a sophomore. Hoke hopes that a more focused offseason under Doug Nussmeier will eliminate many of the baffling mistakes that reared their ugly heads last season.

The departure of Lewan and Schofield leaves a mammoth-sized gap on either end of the offensive line, as the two seniors started all 13 games for Hoke last season. The left tackle position, which has seen the program produce two top-12 picks in the last decade, will likely be filled by redshirt sophomore Erik Magnuson.

Magnuson stormed onto the stage as a redshirt freshman, playing in 12 games and starting seven times as a guard. The sophomore admitted that he struggled with injuries throughout 2013 before a shoulder surgery sidelined him for this year’s spring game. Despite the medical concerns, Magnuson is the top candidate to succeed Lewan on the left side, as he owns the dominant run-blocking ability to carry the rushing attack.

Ben Braden figures to earn the nod at right tackle. The redshirt sophomore is the only projected starter to not have a career start to his name, but he came out of spring practice with the job, and at 6’6″, 319-pounds, has the body for the position.

Projected Starters
Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
Erik Magnuson Kyle Bosch Jack Miller Kyle Kalis Ben Braden
2013 Starts 7 3 4 8 0
Career Starts 7 3 4 8 0

Veteran Depth

While Miller starts the opener, Graham Glasgow will be ready to replace him in Week 2 if he either wins the job in fall camp or Miller struggles. Glasgow is the only returning lineman that started every game last season and did well at center. But his natural position is guard, so Hoke and Nussmeier will be able to evaluate the Week 1 performance and either insert Glasgow into any of the three interior positions or hold onto him as a quality if-needed backup.

Nussmeier owns plenty of other options if his initial lineup falters early in the 2014 season. One of the strongest offensive line recruiting classes in recent memory brought four players to Ann Arbor last season that are ready to contribute as redshirt freshmen this fall. Former five-star Patrick Kugler is a potential breakout player to watch if Miller’s struggles continue at center and Glasgow is needed at guard. Kugler was one of the top linemen in the country to come out last season and his elite quickness equips him with the skills to start on the inside line.

Four-stars David Dawson, Logan Tuley-Tillman and Dan Samuelson also joined the rotation during the spring game and provide Nussmeier with critical depth on the line. Dawson is the mostly likely to join a regular rotation, as his pass blocking ability complements a group of linemen that were recruited to help the ground attack.

Newcomers

The only freshman that figures to play a significant role on the 2014 team is Mason Cole, who offers Nussmeier an elite pass blocker for his pro-style offense. Cole may already be the best pass protector on the team, and took first-team snaps at left tackle during the spring game. If Magnuson’s shoulder isn’t fully healed by the first game, Cole will likely get the nod at left tackle. Otherwise, he’ll be a top sub at tackle. Look for the freshman to make a splash despite the abundance of veteran options.

Check back on Wednesday and Thursday for Drew’s Big Ten offensive lineman rankings. Will any Michigan linemen make the list?