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Beilein lauds Zak Irvin's emerging versatility

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Although Michigan's season is done, the path forward continues for coach John Beilein and the Wolverines in the offseason.

UM reportedly is hosting five-star recruit Jaylen Brown this week and Beilein said that he will ramp up his recruiting efforts this week, now that his coaching is done for a while.

But the preparations for next season begin now, with individual skill development for the remainder of the school year, though the workload decreases from about 20 hours per week to about two per week.

One of the biggest surprises in the final weeks was the development of Zak Irvin, who diversified his game with improved court vision and passing, which helped Michigan get a win over Illinois in the second round of the Big Ten tournament and to make the quarterfinal matchup against top seed Wisconsin close in second half.

Irvin spent last summer with strength coach Jon Sanderson to enhance his endurance and strength. At 6-foot-7, he's added versatility to his game, augmenting his outside shooting and rebounding.

"He is truly becoming a multi-position player," Beilein said Sunday. "Last year, he was just a shooter. A freshman type of defender but certainly he's become a passer, a rebounder, a better shooter, a scorer. We're very excited about the future. Unfortunately, you have to go through a year like this. But we know so much more about our freshmen now than we would have."

Although most of the freshmen will stay on campus this summer to work with Sanderson, Irvin hasn't yet committed, with a consideration for resting his body some, especially after the European exhibition tour this summer and a full year of extended minutes due to several injuries to other starters.

"I can always get better reading the ball-screen — I just starting doing that this season — and with my ball-handling and being more effective with that," Irvin said Friday.

But Beilein recognizes the issue with overuse injuries and the season-ending foot fracture that Caris LeVert suffered serves as an example of what can happen with extended play during the summer and through to next season.

"We have to look at everything in the weeks to come and try to find a happy medium. He has to work on a lot of things this summer; at the same time, overuse shouldn't be one of them," Beilein said. "We'll try to get a plan moving forward. As we get into the end of the year, I may have a better answer."

Irvin finished the season as the team leader in minutes (1,160), points (456), 3-pointers (77), rebounds (153) and steals (33) in 32 games.