Michigan basketball is into the offseason coming off of a disappointing 18-16 campaign but hopes that it can reshape its roster after missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.
The Wolverines currently have one scholarship spot open for next season after landing guard Nimari Burnett and the departures of freshman wing Jett Howard (NBA Draft) and sophomore guard Isaiah Barnes (transfer portal), but could look to bring back veteran guard Jaelin Llewellyn and wing Joey Baker for sixth collegiate seasons. There still figures to be some roster churn, whether it be from sophomore guard Kobe Bufkin and/or junior center Hunter Dickinson deciding to move on or other transfers.
Head coach Juwan Howard often operates in silence when running the point during a recruitment, so there could be targets the Wolverines are interested in that have not been revealed publicly. Burnett’s commitment came together quickly and was an example of that.
The Michigan staff has been working on the transfer portal and reaching out to targets. Here is who the Wolverines are still after landing Burnett this week.
SG Nimari Burnett, Alabama, junior (On3’s No. 68 overall transfer)
2022-23 stats: 5.6 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists
Burnett, a former McDonald’s All-American, began his college career at Texas Tech before transferring after his freshman year. He averaged 5.6 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.7 assists this season for the Crimson Tide in less than 20 minutes per game, shooting 36.8 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from three.
He was the No. 29 overall player in the nation from the 2020 cycle, according to the On3 Industry Ranking, a weighted average that utilizes all four major recruiting media companies and recruited by several elite programs.
Burnett and Howard have a Chicago connection that dates back to his recruitment during the 2020 class. Injuries have hampered him early in his career, but he gets another chance at a rebound at Michigan. There will be plenty of minutes available at guard regardless of what Bufkin does.
C John Hugley IV, Pittsburgh, junior (No. 23 overall)
2022-23 stats: 8.0 points, 3.6 rebounds
John Hugley IV played parts of three seasons at Pittsburgh, earning an honorable mention All-ACC nod in 2021-22 (2020-21 did not count against his eligibility). Hugley suffered a knee injury in practice at the beginning of the season, played in eight games — averaging 8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per contest — but decided to shut things down in mid-January to rehab his “mental and physical health.”
This is one of the two players on this list we know Michigan has reached out to currently in the portal, but a fit remains to be seen. With Dickinson and Tarris Reed on the roster, it seems the center spot is set unless one of them leaves. Howard tinkered with a two-big lineup at times over the last two seasons, and Hugley hit 7-of-15 three-pointers in limited action this past season. Could he play the four in a big lineup? It’s possible.
SF Chris Ledlum, Harvard, senior (No. 25 overall)
2022-23 stats: 18.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Chris Ledlum was a unanimous First-Team All-Ivy League selection this season, averaging 18.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks per contest while shooting 47.3% from the field. A concern is that he is a 29.4% three-point shooter, which would not do a ton to space the floor effectively for the Wolverines. But he scored 20 points or more 10 times this season and is a more than adept rebounder, so perhaps he could fit as a potential 4-man in Michigan’s offense. The Wolverines need more offense at forward, and will certainly need it if Howard does go to the NBA. Michigan has reached out and been in contact.
SG Tamar Bates, Indiana, sophomore (No. 44 overall)
2022-23 stats: 6.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists
Tamar Bates was the No. 33 overall prospect and a four-star recruit in the 2021 class and has a connection with the program after playing at IMG Academy with Jett Howard. During his first two seasons at Indiana, Bates averaged 5.1 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.9 assists in about 17 minutes per contest.
Michigan could use more shooting on the wing and Bates took a step forward there this past season, making 37-of-99 attempts from three-point range (37.4%). He shot 39.2% on the year.
SF AJ Storr, St. John’s, freshman (No. 56 overall)
2022-23 stats: 8.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists
Stanley started 17 games this past season for the Red Storm in 33 appearances, and could potentially fill a big void on the wing for the Wolverines. Storr, a 6-foot-6 guard, started the last 17 games this season, finishing the year with an average of 8.8 points while shooting over 40% from beyond the arc.
Schools in contact include Oklahoma State, Memphis, Arizona State, Florida, BYU, Georgia, Cincinnati, Butler, Miami, DePaul, LSU, Indiana, Michigan, UConn, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Auburn, Gonzaga, Creighton, Xavier and others.
Storr is a former four-star recruit and On3 top-100 high school player. He was the No. 106 player in the 2022 On3 Industry Ranking.
PF/C B.J. Mack, Wofford, senior (No. 67 overall)
2022-23 stats: 16.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists
Mack, who entered the transfer portal earlier this month, averaged 16.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists during the 2022-23 season. He shot 49.2% from the field and 33.5% from three-point range this season, splitting time between the power forward and center spots. The Michigan coaching staff met with Mack in-home recently and the next step could be a campus visit. There would be obvious level-of-play concerns coming up from the SoCon and how he might fit in the U-M rotation, but at the very least could be a solid role player.
KEEP AN EYE ON
PG Jameer Nelson Jr., Delaware, senior (No. 3 overall)
2022-23 stats: 20.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.4 steals
Michigan has Dug McDaniel locked in as its starting point guard for now, but the program has shown it is willing to upgrade if there is a fit somewhere. Jameer Nelson Jr. was first-team All-CAA and CAA All-Defense this season and is the son of former NBA guard Jameer Nelson. Given Juwan Howard’s deep ties to the NBA, could there be a fit here? His father also played for Phil Martelli in college. There are enough ties here to put him on the list.
Michigan faces an uncertain future with Bufkin and Jaelin Llewellyn may or may not return for next season. There was talk that U-M could play both McDaniel and Llewellyn at the same time this season before the latter injured his knee, so it is not out of the question the two could co-exist. There has been no publicly reported interest and things have been very quiet here. Things have been tight-lipped in this recruitment, but it is something to monitor.
G DJ Horne, Arizona State, senior (No. 80 overall)
2022-23 stats: 12.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Arizona State guard DJ Horne officially entered the transfer portal on Monday morning and could have some potential interest from Michigan. Horne played the two this year next to former Wolverine point guard Frankie Collins at ASU. He is another player that might fit the mold of someone who could replace Llewellyn in U-M’s guard rotation, but he comes with some major offensive concerns. He shot only 36.9% from the field (35.5% from three), averaging 5.8 attempts per game from beyond the arc.
OFF THE BOARD
• Colorado State SF John Tonje –≥ committed to Missouri (No. 78 overall)
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