Ann Arbor — At this stage of the recruiting period, Michigan coach John Beilein seems to be fishing without any bait.
After filling a robust freshman class last year with Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Aubrey Dawkins, Ricky Doyle, Kam Chatman and Austin Hatch, and redshirting Duncan Robinson and D.J. Wilson, the roster was comprised mainly of first-year players this past season.
The lone senior, Max Bielfeldt, graduated, leaving Beilein with only one scholarship, which was filled by German forward Moritz Wagner's commitment last week.
Still, Beilein is on the recruiting trail, looking for more talent, even though he technically doesn't have a scholarship to offer any of the prospects. One possibility is that junior Caris LeVert, who missed the second half of the season because of a foot fracture, will decide to leave early and declare for the NBA draft.
"A lot will depend on Caris and how people would fit. If he's with us, that's a really solid piece," Beilein said Wednesday night after the team banquet. "I know it's late and I know everybody wants to have answers — nobody wants it more than me — but we have to just embrace the process and do the best we can."
Michigan has been linked to having interest in several players, including five-star recruit Jaylen Brown from Georgia, four-star guard Kenny Williams from Virginia, Cornell transfer Shonn Miller and Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina.
Brown, a 6-7 forward from Marietta, Ga., is ranked the No. 1 player in the nation by Scout.com.
Beilein said he tries to remain honest with recruits and letting them know the situation up front. In a way, he's preparing for worst-case scenarios — such as unexpected departures through transferring — though he has said in recent weeks that he doesn't anticipate any attrition with his roster.
"We tell them the truth and you have to earn things. We have a lot of good players who work hard and are all together. We have no promises," Beilein said Monday. "We'll under-promise and over-deliver is the hope, but come in and earn what you can earn and if not, this is a team-first attitude — and if that doesn't suit you, we're good with it."
It's an odd situation for Beilein to still be recruiting with a seemingly full roster, but he's committed to moving forward with his efforts.
"It'll work itself out; it always works itself out. You try to look at what you have. Time will pass and we'll have the best answer we can get," Beilein said Wednesday. "You have to think of what's best for the student-athlete; what's best for Caris right now is to wait and as long as we can, get him the most information."
Beilein has had some success in late recruiting, getting players such as LeVert and Spike Albrecht, as well as Abdur-Rahkman and Dawkins after the initial recruiting period was done. Awaiting LeVert's decision to figure out whether he even has another scholarship to offer, though, is a bit unusual.
"It is unique and what we've been is extremely patient. Just go about our business knowing that there's the early recruiting then there's the late recruiting," Beilein said. "Now whether it's fifth-year players, transfers, coaching changes, all kinds of options come forward, and if you find the right fit or the right situation for a young man to go pro or not go pro, it will show in time.
"Time is the friend of truth and you wait things out and get as much information as you can."
Beilein said that he hasn't ruled out having Bielfeldt return next season, but there are "a lot of factors" that are in play. It's unclear how that would happen, though, as Beilein admitted he hadn't considered having Bielfeldt as a walk-on.