David J. Phillip
Developing Caris LeVert into a potential NBA lottery pick should be Michigan's top goal this offseason.
Developing talent has been a staple of John Beilein's program going all the way back to his days at Canisius. He has always been able to do more with less, which is why, given the amount of athleticism returning, Michigan will be a contender for some time.
Three players need to make significant strides forward during the offseason: Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr.
In LeVert's case, he made incredible progress last offseason and simply needs to build on that. He ranked third on the team in scoring (12.9 points), shot better than 40 percent overall and from beyond the arc and dished out 2.9 assists per game.
Defensively, he is as good as they come. Opposing wings and guards are going to have a tough time getting around LeVert next season.
He has all the tools to take over games like Nik Stauskas did, which could result in Michigan having the Big Ten player of the year for a third straight season. This offseason will be big for LeVert, especially if two or more Wolverines declare for the draft.
Irvin needs to improve at the defensive end while developing his ability to put the ball on the deck and attack the rim on offense. He showed flashes of this last season. Now it is all about making it a consistent weapon.
Finally, Walton will need to ready himself for a much larger role in the offense next season.
"I think he’s a guy who we can play through more than we did this year," Beilein said during his Wednesday press conference (h/t UMHoops). "Obviously Nik, Caris and Glenn we played through more this year...That’s something Derrick’s going to want to do.
"He turned 19 the other day, and for him to play the whole year at 18 is amazing, as well. I have so much confidence (in him). His workout the other day was excellent. I have so much confidence that the game continues to be an easier one for him to dissect and see as he plays at this level."