Caris LeVert could be the future for Michigan at shooting guard.
The 2013-14 season has yet to begin, but it is never too early to look ahead, especially when the future is as bright as it is for the Michigan basketball program. Coveted recruits from across the nation have recognized the Wolverines can put them in the NBA.
Some positions are clearer than others. One in particular cannot be judged until after the class of 2014 signs national letters of intent.
Michigan has established a solid foundation to build on for the remainder of head coach John Beilein's contract, which expires at the end of the 2018-19 season. Now, it is time to figure out what building blocks will take the program to new heights.
With highly touted prospect Derrick Walton coming to Ann Arbor this summer and a proven backup in Spike Albrecht likely hanging around until 2016, the Michigan Wolverines are not in the market for a point guard right now. Instead, Michigan will focus its attention on small forwards and shooting guards to close out the class of 2014.
This all but guarantees the Wolverines will sign at least one point guard in 2015, though. There will be no shortage of elite recruits to choose from either. Producing two NBA players at the position—Darius Morris and Trey Burke—has made Michigan a very attractive program to the nation's top point guards.
At the moment, the dream scenario for the Wolverines would be to land 5-star prospect Jalen Brunson. The southpaw has three-point shooting range and is dynamic in open court situations.
Brunson also does a good job of creating openings for his teammates when driving the lane. Basically, he is everything John Beilein wants in a point guard.
One in particular to keep an eye on is Corey Sanders, who holds a 4-star rating on Rivals. Sanders could wind up being a package deal with his best friend and AAU teammate Dwayne Bacon. Hence why Michigan fans should pay close attention.
As far as 2013 goes, Walton appears best suited to fill the void left behind by Burke. Albrecht will be a solid backup. This position battle is just getting underway, but Walton's athleticism should be enough to beat out Albrecht.
The future looks very bright for Michigan at the 1, given how good Beilein and his staff have proven to be at developing NBA-level point guards recently.
Nik Stauskas is going to be Michigan's top perimeter threat for the next couple of years.
Although there is not a pressing need to add another 2-guard, a team coached by John Beilein can never have too many shooters.
Nik Stauskas proved to be a solid three-point shooter for much of the season. Despite struggling toward the latter end of the 2012-13 campaign, Stauskas shot 44 percent from beyond the arc.
Knocking down shots with consistency and defense are two areas the rising sophomore needs to improve upon this year. Regardless, Stauskas should continue to be a reliable offensive weapon for the next three seasons.
However, there will be plenty of competition at the 2 going forward. Incoming 5-star prospect Zak Irvin is a serious threat to join the starting five.
Ditto for Caris LeVert. After being a defensive specialist as a frosh, LeVert could become a starter by improving his offense. Shooting 31.5 percent from the field is not good enough to be a starter. The Ohioan will be a valuable asset for the Wolverines until 2016, but it remains to be seen whether or not he can be an effective scorer.
Adding 5-star guard Devin Booker to the rotation in 2014 could give the Michigan Wolverines one of the deepest groups of shooters in the country. The Moss Point, Miss., native says Michigan has a "special place in (his) heart," though there are several other marquee programs pursuing him.
Even if the Wolverines miss on Booker, there are plenty of other shooting guards in the 2015 class. Luke Kennard is one of the team's top targets. According to Chris Balas of TheWolverine, Michigan is in "great shape" for Kennard.
The nation's No. 9-ranked shooting guard, Jalen Coleman, is high on the Wolverines' board as well. Coleman holds a Michigan offer, along with several others. This one is going to be a battle until the end.
Fans have every reason to be optimistic about the Maize and Blue's stock of shooters for the foreseeable future.
Glenn Robinson III may be gone come season's end.
Small forward is by far the top priority position-wise for the Michigan Wolverines on the recruiting trail. Rising sophomore Glenn Robinson III is a potential lottery pick, so the coaching staff is likely planning to be without him for the 2014-15 campaign.
The most likely of the three to don the Maize and Blue appears to be Bluiett. Chris Balas of TheWolverine believes Purdue will wind up with Edwards, and there are "a lot of West Coast ties" that could keep Chatman out of Ann Arbor. Butler and UCLA will not go away in the chase for Bluiett's signature, but Michigan can compete with anyone on the recruiting trail.
As previously mentioned, the Wolverines could lure 4-star small forward Dwayne Bacon out of Florida. Adding Bacon would be a good foundation for the 2015 class. Throwing the 6'6", 195-pounder in the mix with the mass amount of shooters Michigan has would make for a dynamic rotation.
Unlike the backcourt, the outlook for the 3 is a bit murky. Things will begin to clear up once Michigan lands one of its targets for 2014.
Is Jon Horford the future at center for Michigan?
Update: Kevon Looney has released a list of his top six schools, which does not include Michigan.
It is difficult to determine how many big men the Michigan Wolverines will actually play in the coming years, so power forward and center are essentially one big position when it comes to recruiting.
Michigan utilized a three-guard lineup with a small forward at the 4 and one big man last season. Two bigs are likely going to start for the Maize and Blue in 2013-14.
Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan are the top two candidates to be in the starting five. Problem is, Morgan only has one season left and McGary could be in the NBA by this time next year. Redshirt junior Jon Horford has improved, but he may not be good enough hold down the 5 on his own.
Incoming frosh Mark Donnal could complement Horford nicely down the road. Donnal does not have much of a post game, but he is an excellent shooter.
Same goes for Ricky Doyle, who is one of two class of 2014 commitments. Doyle still has to learn how to play in the paint, but he can clean up missed shots and throw down some monster dunks when the opportunities present themselves.
The outlook for bigs on the recruiting trail is significantly better than it was a month ago. Signing Kevon Looney seems more realistic than ever. The 5-star power forward is a great shooter who can play in the paint and on the perimeter.
In mid-July, Jerry Meyer of 247Sports tweeted that Looney's recruitment will come down to Michigan and Duke.
Looney would be a perfect replacement for McGary. He would also be a great fit alongside Horford in 2014-15.
Jaylen Johnson out of Ypsilanti High School is an option if the Wolverines want a big and miss on Looney.
Things are looking even better for the 2015 group of recruits. Michigan is in the hunt for 5-star bigs Stephen Zimmerman and Diamond Stone. Both are top-10 prospects, which means the competition for them will be fierce.
Losing McGary come season's end would hurt, but the Wolverines could land a stud in the coming months.