Michigan Basketball: Breaking Down Every Addition and Departure
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Just like every other team across the country, the Michigan basketball program will have to replace departing stars with incoming freshmen.
Thankfully, the Wolverines only lost two major contributors from last season's group, which advanced to the national title game. Taking their spots will be a trio of freshmen who made up the No. 12 ranked recruiting class of 2013. One walk-on is also going to be on the 13-man roster for the 2013-14 campaign.
In addition to the pair of NBA-bound stars Michigan is losing, it will also have to reload the bench. Five seniors from last year's team are out of eligibility. Only one of those departing players saw more than 5.6 minutes of action during the 2012-13 season, so those losses will not sting much.
The biggest story of the offseason is not what the Wolverines lost, or are bringing in, though. Rising sophomores Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary both decided to return to Ann Arbor, sending Michigan all the way up to No. 9 in a preseason Top 25 assembled by ESPN's Jason King.
Veteran big men Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, along with talented guards Nik Stauskas, Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert are going to be back for another go-round as well.
Expectations are going to be high for the Maize and Blue after capturing a Big Ten Conference crown in 2012 and being one tip-in away from clinching a share of the 2013 league title. Michigan will be among the early favorites to win the Big Ten in 2014, but how well the newcomers can mesh with Robinson and McGary will determine if it can live up to the hype.
Before the predictions for next season can start, however, let's take a deeper look at who is departing and entering the program.
All-American point guard Trey Burke's decision to declare for the upcoming NBA draft should not have surprised anyone.
Not only did Burke sweep the player of the year awards, the Columbus, Ohio, native put up a stat line reminiscent of legendary point guard Magic Johnson. Burke averaged 18.6 points, 6.7 assists and shot 46.3 percent from the field last season. Expecting anyone to replicate those numbers and overall impact on a team is completely unrealistic.
When the Wolverines needed a big play, Burke provided one. Someone else is going to have to be the go-to player this season with Burke making the leap to the professional level.
The other half of Michigan's dynamic backcourt, junior shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., opted to forgo his final year of eligibility. A weak draft class gave Hardaway the best opportunity to get on an NBA roster, so it is tough to say he made the wrong decision. Replacing Hardaway, a first team All-Big Ten performer, will require a little bit of lineup shuffling from head coach John Beilein.
Stauskas appears to be the favorite to fill in for Hardaway at the 2. Making this move will open up the 3 for Robinson, meaning he will have a chance to play at his natural position for the first time since high school.
Who should be Michigan's starting shooting guard?
Unless Stauskas makes significant strides at the defensive end, though, LeVert will have a chance to replace Hardaway in the starting lineup.
LeVert's work as a defensive specialist last season made him a valuable commodity to the Wolverines. As long as LeVert improves offensively, both he and Stauskas should soften the blow of losing Hardaway.
Losing seniors Eso Akunne, Corey Person, Blake McLimans, Josh Bartelstein and Matt Vogrich is not something the Maize and Blue faithful should worry about.
All five were great ambassadors for the program, but none of them could match the level of talent Beilein recruited over the past three years. Only Vogrich played more than 2.8 minutes per game and none of them averaged better than 1.2 points per game. Most of those stats came when Michigan had already put its opponent away.
Anytime a team loses veterans, it is never a positive, though in this case, the impact on next year's team should be minimal.
If there is one thing college basketball fans have learned over the past three seasons, it is that John Beilein knows a great point guard when he sees one. Burke and Darius Morris blossomed into professional floor generals, which means there are high hopes for incoming freshman Derrick Walton.
Although the college game is far more rigorous than high school basketball, Walton's numbers as a senior are difficult to ignore. Walton piled up 26.2 points, 10.1 assists, 7.7 rebounds and 5.4 steals per game last season for Chandler Park (Mich.) Academy.
Playing in transition is where Walton can do the most damage for Michigan as a true freshman. The 6'0", 165-pounder will need to become a more consistent shooter to become a major threat in the half court. Still, Walton is an ideal fit to take Burke's spot in the starting rotation.
Fending off Albrecht will not be easy, though. The two point guards will battle all summer to be Michigan's starter, which is only going to help both of them develop.
Zak Irvin recently became a 5-star prospect and is likely going to see action at either the 2 or the 3 for much of the 2013-14 season.
There is a chance Irvin could force Beilein to make some adjustments if he is as good as advertised. Irvin can knock down shots from anywhere on the floor and is lethal when pulling up from mid-range. Attacking the basket is another one of Irvin's strong suits.
Rounding out the incoming crop of scholarship freshmen is 4-star power forward Mark Donnal.
With a total of four big men coming back, minutes will be hard to come by for Donnal. Three-point shooting is one thing that could get Donnal on the floor this season, however. The Whitehouse, Ohio, product needs to pack on some weight and develop a post game before he will be able to make a significant impact, though.
The least heralded of Michigan's newcomers is none other than walk-on guard Andrew Dakich.
Do not expect to see much of Dakich this season, but down the road his high basketball IQ may allow him to pick up some minutes as a reserve. Dakich is an excellent passer and is a great leader.
Bringing in future stars like Walton and Irvin will give Michigan a great chance to continue contending for Big Ten titles and Final Fours. Matching last year's success will be a tall order for this year's bunch, though.
All player and class rankings are courtesy of ESPN.com.
Follow me on Twitter: @Zach_Dirlam.
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