Michigan Basketball: Ranking U-M's Most Important Role Players in 2014-15
Heading into the 2014-15 season, we know by now that the Michigan basketball program will be led by its core of Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr.; but they cant carry the team alone and that's where the importance of role players comes in.
The Wolverines lost a lot of manpower from last season and will now have to make up for the loss of Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford. With head coach John Beilein introducing six true freshmen and one redshirt freshman, several players will have to step up if Michigan wants to keep its successful string of NCAA tournament runs intact.
That said, here are the five most important role players (excluding LeVert, Irvin and Walton Jr.)—and ranked in order of importance—that must emerge for Michigan to have a successful 2014-15 season
5. Spike Albrecht
If there is one thing that Spike Albrecht has shown us in his two years in Ann Arbor, it is his ability to come in to games and provide a scoring punch from deep.
While not entirely versatile or multi-faceted in his game, Albrecht can at least dial it up from deep, as he has a career .442 percentage from beyond the arc. As one of the elder statesmen of the program, he will be depended on this coming year.
Again, he's not much more than a zone-buster, but he's still an important piece of the equation nonetheless.
4. D.J. Wilson
While injured at the moment, D.J. Wilson should still be an important factor in the Wolverines' rotation this year.
Although he did not make the Italy trip as a result of a finger injury, Wilson figures to be a key role player this year for the Wolverines. As a highly regarded high school recruit (a top-150 recruit according to 247Sports.com), Wilson comes to Michigan as a talented combo forward who is very active around the hoop.
Granted he is healthy, Wilson is set to get a good share of minutes when the season starts up in November.
3. Mark Donnal
On the heels of an encouraging Italy trip, Donnal is looking like he will be a key cog in Michigan's plans this year.
After impressing in Italy to the tune of 10.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting a fabulous 69.5 percent from the field, Donnal figures to be a major player on the front line this season. With the ability to mix it up down low and step out and drain a few jumpers, Donnal will be a key role player this year.
As a redshirt freshman, Donnal has been part of the program for a while now and his transition should be smooth. It's looking like he should make a worthwhile contribution in the 2014-15 season.
2. Ricky Doyle
Much like Donnal, Doyle is another big man who had a promising Italy trip.
Doyle crashed the boards effectively and also scored a few buckets en route to averaging 11.8 points and eight rebounds per game on the trip. With rebounding and interior play a question mark for Michigan, Doyle is someone Beilein can count on for productivity this season.
As a true freshman, Doyle will have his ups and downs, but he will make his presence felt soon enough in the frontcourt.
1. Kameron Chatman
As the jewel of the 2014 recruiting class, Kameron Chatman has the tools to be a star in due time. However, with LeVert, Irvin and Walton Jr. around, Chatman will have to take on a secondary role, at least initially.
Chatman is a versatile player who can do a lot of good things on the court. On their recent Italy trip, Chatman averaged a respectable 9.8 points a game (on .425 shooting from the field) to go along with 17 rebounds, 10 assists and eight steals in the four games the team played.
With his unique set of skills, Chatman will be used all over the place and he'll no doubt be a big part of Michigan's plans this year.