James Hawkins and John Niyo of The Detroit News break down Thursday's 63-44 loss to Texas Tech at the Honda Center and look ahead to next season. James Hawkins, The Detroit News
James Hawkins of The Detroit News on what's next for all of Michigan's scholarship players:
Charles Matthews, redshirt junior wing: Barring an unforeseen decision, Matthews will forgo his final season of eligibility to pursue a professional career. While most of his shooting numbers didn’t improve and he didn’t take that next step offensively, he will leave his mark as a linchpin on the best defensive squad John Beilein has ever had at Michigan.
Zavier Simpson, junior guard: Simpson grew into one of the better point guards around with his vision, leadership, mystifying hook shot and tenacious defense. He posted a 3.47 assist-turnover ratio that ranks No. 3 in the nation and improved significantly at the free-throw line. If he’s able to become a respectable perimeter shooter, he could be one of the top players in the Big Ten next season.
Jon Teske, junior center: If there was an award for most improved player in the Big Ten, Teske likely would’ve been one of the top candidates. He turned into a pick-and-pop option at the five and his increased mobility allowed him to disrupt offenses by effectively hedging ball screens. One thing he could improve is playing with better balance around the rim and developing a better post-up game.
Jordan Poole, sophomore guard: There’s no question Poole is a talented long-range shooter, but his decision-making and shot selection were two things that held him back at times. He could test the NBA Draft waters to get valuable feedback about what he needs to improve and possibly even draw some interest if he has a strong showing in workouts.
Ignas Brazdeikis, freshman forward: Brazdeikis’ name appeared in several mock drafts throughout the season and he will most assuredly declare for the draft as an early-entrant candidate. His 3-point shot improved as the season progressed and his ability to finish with both hands around the rim is impressive. If he returns, he could stand to get better at making reads and playing off ball screens.
Isaiah Livers, sophomore forward: Livers is another possible candidate who could be tempted to test his draft stock due to his size, versatility and shooting touch. However, his value at both ends can’t be overstated and he finished the season as the team’s top 3-point shooter (42.6 percent). Regardless if he starts or comes off the bench next season, he needs to bottle up the aggressiveness he played with over the last month and carry it into 2019-20.
Eli Brooks, sophomore guard: Brooks overcame a tough two-month stretch in January and February and closed out the season with some solid showings in March. His ability to be step ahead on defense and play both guard spots was an asset, but his lack of confidence on offense wasn’t. If everyone returns, he’ll likely have to fight for minutes for a similar bench role.
Austin Davis, redshirt sophomore center: Davis started out as the experienced option at the backup five but couldn’t hold down the role and fell down the pecking order as the season went on. For a player who has already been with the program for three years, that’s usually not a good sign and he could look to transfer elsewhere.
Colin Castleton, freshman center: Castleton put on 20-plus pounds over the course of the season and his main focus over the offseason will be getting stronger and bulk up his frame with strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson. He’ll also need to improve his stamina and shoot the ball more consistently next year when he’ll likely serve as the backup center.
Brandon Johns Jr., freshman forward: Johns had his share of moments and flashes but primarily saw his minutes at the five due to his comfort of playing with his back to the basket and the fact Beilein wanted him to focus on one position. With Castleton’s growth and Teske’s return, Johns could shift to the four and possibly play a role out on the perimeter next year.
David DeJulius, freshman guard: DeJulius saw sparse playing time at the one and two due to Simpson and Poole both soaking up the majority of the minutes at those spots. DeJulius can create off the dribble and is more of a natural scorer than Simpson, which should give Michigan both an offensive and defensive option at the point.
Adrien Nunez, freshman guard: Nunez saw the least amount of playing time (39 minutes) of the five freshmen this season. And like most freshmen, he’ll need to stay on campus and work on his offense, defense, ball handling and everything in between this summer. His outside shooting will be needed next year for a team that had its share of offensive struggles.
Jalen Wilson and Cole Bajema, incoming freshmen: How much of a role Wilson, a wing, and Bajema, a combo guard, play next season depends on what the roster looks like. If Michigan loses both Matthews and Brazdeikis, Wilson could step in and see playing time from Day 1. Bajema, who is known for his deep shooting stroke, might have a tougher path and will need to put in work to add to his 6-foot-7, 175-pound frame.