Oakland’s loss could end up being Michigan’s much-needed gain.
With Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole going pro and the realistic possibility Ignas Brazdeikis could follow suit, the Wolverines could be left replacing their top three scorers and perimeter players.
One possible option is grad transfer guard Jaevin Cumberland, who originally announced in March he would finish his career with the Golden Grizzlies before having a change of heart and entering the transfer portal last month.
Cumberland told The Detroit News on Thursday he visited Michigan on Monday and Tuesday and left Ann Arbor with a scholarship offer.
“I’m just trying to show my talents on a bigger stage,” he said. “They said an opportunity is there.”
Cumberland (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) would be immediately eligible to play for the 2019-20 season and, on the surface, is an ideal fit for the Wolverines.
With Matthews and Poole both gone, Michigan has two vacancies to fill in its starting lineup at the two and three spots. If Brazdeikis departs, that would make it three.
However, if Brazdeikis returns, that likely would give the Wolverines four expected starters, with Zavier Simpson at point guard, Jon Teske at center and Isaiah Livers and Brazdeikis at the forward spots — similar to the lineup Michigan used at the end of the regular season when Matthews was sidelined with an ankle injury for three games.
Regardless of Brazdeikis’ looming decision, the one starting spot where there is no definitive answer is at shooting guard, and Michigan already has several options on the roster with Eli Brooks, David DeJulius and Adrien Nunez.
Brooks spent time at both guard spots this past season, while coach John Beilein also ran short stints with a Simpson-DeJulius backcourt on several occasions. Nunez received the least amount of playing time of the five freshmen and never saw any meaningful minutes, with most of his appearances coming in mop-up duty when the outcome was already decided.
Yet, Cumberland has something that none of the trio possesses and something Michigan desperately needs: high-usage game experience and proven scoring ability.
Cumberland averaged 17.2 points and 3.5 assists in 37.1 minutes and started all 33 games for Oakland last season. He was also one of the top shooters in the Horizon League and ranked in the top 10 in numerous categories during conference play, including free-throw percentage (91.3 percent; first), made 3-pointers per game (3.1; third), assist-turnover ratio (1.9; third), 3-point field-goal percentage (35 percent; sixth) and assists per game (3.3; 10th).
Most importantly, Cumberland’s volume shooting would be a boon for Michigan, considering the Wolverines shot 34.2 percent from 3-point range as a team — their lowest mark under Beilein since 2010 — and could lose their top two deep threats in Poole (team-high 75 made 3s, 36.9 percent) and Brazdeikis (56 made 3s, 39.2 percent).
Cumberland ranked No. 22 in the nation in total made 3-pointers (109) and made 3s per game (3.3), No. 28 in 3-point attempts (273) and No. 50 in 3-point field-goal percentage (39.9 percent). He also made at least four deep balls 15 times, including a 4-for-6 output against Michigan State.
“I’m just consistent with my jump shots, consistent with my work ethic and I'm always in the gym,” Cumberland said. “I mean, I feel like I can do it all.”
For Cumberland, there's also a familiar face already on Michigan's coaching staff. Assistant Saddi Washington was on Oakland's staff during Cumberland's freshman year, although former assistant Brandon Weems was the one who recruited Cumberland to the Golden Grizzlies from Wilmington, Ohio.
Michigan has gone the grad transfer route just once during Beilein’s tenure when it brought in point guard Jaaron Simmons from Ohio University two seasons ago. While Simmons didn’t play a leading role like many had anticipated, Beilein said that experience wouldn't deter him from taking that path again.
The Wolverines were recently in the running for one of the top grad transfers on the market in wing Justin Pierce, but missed out after he picked North Carolina over Michigan and Notre Dame last week.
Like Pierce, Cumberland has his share of suitors and has visited Purdue and Oregon in addition to Michigan. Cumberland said he won’t be taking any other visits and plans to make a decision “probably here soon.”
"They've been to the NCAA Tournament almost every year since Beilein has been there, so their (system) obviously works," Cumberland said.
“I’m just talking with my family and trying to figure everything out.”
As it stands, Michigan has one available scholarship for 2019-20 and could have two open roster spots if Brazdeikis opts to stay in the NBA Draft.