Michigan will lean on Derrick Walton Jr. for more scoring. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Ann Arbor — Things are moving quickly for Michigan freshman Ricky Doyle.
Having finished his senior year at Bishop Verot High in Fort Myers, Fla., Doyle has made his way to campus and is getting an early start on workouts.
He’ll have an opportunity to make a big impact in his first season, with the dearth of big men on the roster. Michigan is without Jordan Morgan (graduated) and Jon Horford (tranferred to Florida), and will be without Max Bielfeldt for the majority of the summer.
Coach John Beilein said Tuesday Bielfeldt, the most experienced returning big man, had hip surgery. If there aren’t any complications, Bielfeldt could be back for the summer exhibition tour in Italy in late August.
That leaves a big opportunity for Doyle and redshirt Mark Donnal to man the middle.
“Ricky and Mark Donnal are going to get a lot of meaningful minutes over the summer and if Max isn’t back on the trip, it’s really good for them,” Beilein said. “This would have been a great opportunity for Max — he knows our things better than Mark.”
Doyle is working with strength coach Jon Sanderson, but is not allowed to work with coaches yet.
Beilein said Doyle’s style will complement Donnal, who is primarily a face-up big man who has shooting range to the 3-point line.
“(Former Michigan big man) Deshawn Sims had a great back-to-the-basket game but was certainly a different type of athlete; he could feel what was behind him,” Beilein said. “Ricky is old-school — he feels the game behind him. He has really long arms, so that’s going to be an asset for him.
“He’s not 6-10 or 6-11; he’s almost 6-9 but with really long arms.”
The Wolverines are keeping a close eye on Caris LeVert, who had surgery to repair a stress fracture in foot, but should be ready in time for the foreign tour.
Beilein said the injury, called a March Stress Fracture, is common in soldiers because of excessive stress on the feet from marching. The condition occurs over time and not due to a single event.
“The surgery was a success,” Beilein said. “He is such a grinder and he is that gym so long that we didn’t want to take any chances.”
Along with LeVert, sophomore Derrick Walton Jr. (7.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists) will be critical this season, and is looking to improve his game, beginning with his jump shot.
“When he first came here, he was a line-hugger and he would have toes on the line all the time in practice,” Beilein said. “That was something that separated Trey Burke, Nik (Stauskas) and Tim (Hardaway) — they could shoot from deep range.
“(Walton) just shot really well ... we’re going to need more scoring, and (he is) going to be a part of that.”
... Although Beilein’s name was mentioned as a possibility for NBA coaching vacancies — including the Pistons — he said he was not contacted by anyone and plans to fulfill the remainder of his contract.