Ann Arbor — After being voted top “Team Bromance” during a recorded piece that played during Saturday’s Michigan win over South Carolina, it seemed only fitting that Isaiah Livers and Jordan Poole would hold their postgame interview together.
While standing side by side, Livers was asked about Poole’s efficient outing where he posted a career-high 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
“Twenty-six!?” Livers said wide-eyed when told Poole’s stat line. “Dang, OK. That's the Jordan we know. He can score at all three levels, for sure. You know he's going to take those crazy step-back 3s. He's got to get one of those out of his system.”
Remember when Poole was in a slump? Yeah, that’s out of his system, too.
While adjusting to a new role as a playmaker and facilitator, Poole scored in double figures just one time and had as many turnovers (nine) as assists over the first five games of the season. He was averaging 7.8 points and shooting just 35.3 percent (12-for-34) from the floor, including 28.6 percent (6-for-21) from 3-point range.
The last five games, though, Poole has grown into his role and emerged as a consistent scoring option alongside redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews and freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis.
During the recent stretch, Poole is shooting a blistering 61.1 percent (33-for-54) from the field and an astounding 60.7 percent (17-for-28) on 3-pointers while logging a team-high 33.2 minutes per game. He ranks second on the team with 18.8 points per game and 13 total assists over the five-game span but still has strides to make taking care of the ball with eight turnovers.
“I just feel like I'm letting the game come to me, taking the right shots but also being aggressive,” Poole said. “I wasn't being aggressive early on in the season, but being able to get great passes from my teammates and find the open guys, all I got to do is really knock the shot. I think that's been a huge key to the last couple games.”
Poole has also shown a knack to knock down shots with varying degrees of difficulty, from dizzying crossover, step-back 3s to floaters in the lane over traffic.
It led to South Carolina coach Frank Martin labeling Poole a “hard shot-maker” who’s able to make the uncontested jumper but capable of draining shots from anywhere on the floor with a defender in his face.
“Those are the guys that are hard to guard,” Martin said.
For Poole, that comes down to the sweat equity he put in over the summer and all the challenging one-on-one drills where he’d go up against junior guard Zavier Simpson, Matthews and Livers.
"I feel like I'm a really good one-on-one player,” Poole said. “(This summer) I was able to go up against guys like Isaiah, who is 6-8 and extremely athletic, so I’ve got to find ways to make difficult shots. And when you go up against people who are so good on defense, it forces you to make tough shots.
“I feel like the coaches and players really have trust in me, giving me the ball at the shot clock because I can make a tough shot."
It's something Poole has been showing more as of late as he finds more comfort and a better balance of when to create for himself and others.
“I think I was just overthinking what's a good shot, what's a bad shot,” Poole said. “I was so focused about assists to where I was passing up a lot of stuff, but now coach (John Beilein) has told me he gave me the green light to be aggressive.
"They feel like I'm one of the best shooters in the country so how I've been shooting the last couple games, I’m just knocking shots down whenever I get an opportunity.”