Michigan Basketball Recruiting: Ranking the Biggest Needs for 2014 Class
With three highly touted prospects signed and ready to join the Michigan Wolverines basketball team next season, head coach John Beilein and the rest of the staff can turn their attention to the class of 2014.
The Wolverines already have a verbal commitment from small forward Austin Hatch. But there are still three personnel concerns the Maize and Blue need to address with next year's recruiting haul.
What are Michigan's biggest needs, and which one should be the Wolverines' top priority in the coming months? Click ahead to find out!
Note: These needs are ranked based on their importance to Michigan contending for Big Ten Conference and national titles. All player rankings are courtesy of ESPN.com.
3. Power Forward/Center
The biggest weakness the Michigan Wolverines have right now is interior defense, which is why head coach John Beilein and his staff need to lure a shot-blocking big man to Ann Arbor for the 2014-15 campaign.
Mitch McGary will more than likely be with the Wolverines for his junior year, and could very well be an All-American candidate as long as he improves at the defensive end of the floor.
Jon Horford is also going to be a savvy fifth-year senior and should be McGary's immediate backup, though his production will be similar to that of current redshirt junior Jordan Morgan. Horford won't get lost on defense, will pull down some rebounds and score a few easy baskets, but his overall impact will not be significant.
Class of 2013 power forward signee Mark Donnal is going to need time to develop defensively, and even then he is not likely to be much of a shot-blocker.
One of the only post players Michigan is pursuing at this time is 3-star recruit Ricky Doyle (Fort Meyers, Fla.). The Wolverines have not offered Doyle, though that could change once he visits campus.
Another prospect to watch is Miroslav Jaksic of Warren (Mich.) De La Salle.
The development of McGary will determine how much of a need big men will be for the class of 2014. So as long as he continues to improve the Wolverines should be able to wait until the following year to lock up a marquee power forward or center.
2. Small Forward
Small forwards are quickly becoming some of the most valuable players in basketball, and the Michigan Wolverines will more than likely need to replace their top player at the position by 2014.
Barring a sophomore slump, it is highly unlikely Glenn Robinson III will be back for his junior year with the Maize and Blue. Robinson is already the No. 22 ranked NBA prospect, according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com.
Current true freshman Caris LeVert may be able to slide over to small forward if he is able to add a lot more weight to his 6'5", 175-pound frame. It seems more plausible for him to stay at shooting guard, though, with 4-star recruit Zak Irvin entering the fold in 2013.
Irvin, who is the No. 24 overall prospect in the country, will log plenty of minutes as a true freshman, which will help the Fishers, Ind. native crack the starting lineup the following season.
Enter Vincent Edwards.
The Wolverines and Purdue Boilermakers are duking it out for the Middletown, Ohio product, and it is a battle Michigan needs to win.
Edwards is planning a visit to Ann Arbor for the offseason, which should result in a scholarship offer from John Beilein and potentially a commitment down the road.
1. Shooting Guard
John Beilein loves to spread the floor and encourages all of his shooters to have quick triggers. In order for that philosophy to result in more victories than losses, the Michigan Wolverines will need to continue to bring in talented shooting guards.
Tim Hardaway Jr. will depart after the 2013-14 campaign, Caris LeVert is still a little bit of an enigma and if opposing teams are able to key in on Nik Stauskas the Wolverines' perimeter shooting will take a hit.
Plain and simple, Michigan needs to bring in a marquee shooter to replace Hardaway in order for the Wolverines to continue to play with a four-guard rotation.
The top priority for the Maize and Blue will be to lock up 5-star recruit Devin Booker (Moss Point, Mass.). According to Chris Balas of TheWolverine.com, Booker "still seems like the most likely of the offerees to end up in a Michigan uniform."
Balas also believes the Wolverines' chances with 4-star prospect Trevon Bluiett (Indianapolis, Ind.) are dwindling with the emergence of the Butler Bulldogs.
Michigan needs to get Booker to sign on the dotted line, or it will be forced to take a lesser-known prospect and hope a project player blossoms into a talented guard.
The ideal crop of recruits for 2014 would be current verbal commitment Austin Hatch along with Devin Booker, Ricky Doyle and Vincent Edwards.
The class of 2013 prospects will more than likely be role players off the bench as true freshmen, with the exception of point guard Derrick Walton, but once their sophomore campaigns come about the Wolverines will need them to be major contributors.
Thankfully for Michigan, the same should be true for the class of 2014. Booker would be the only candidate for early playing time, which means Doyle and Hatch will have the opportunity to redshirt as freshmen.