With incumbent point guard Derrick Walton set to see his eligibility expire following the 2016-17 season, Michigan wanted a floor general to come in and learn from him. They got a surprise commitment from Xavier Simpson to fill that role, and here is what Simpson will bring to the table.
When looking at the Michigan roster it is important to note that it is loaded with shooters who have length. Zak Irvin, Duncan Robinson, Aubrey Dawkins, and Moritz Wagner all are 6-foot-6 or taller, and all possess the ability to really shoot the basketball. Also 2016 commitment Ibi Watson is a 6-foot-4 kid who is capable of getting very hot from beyond the three point line.
Knowing the personnel that Michigan has, a pass first point guard who can get into the lane and make plays is important, which is Simpson’s strength. Also one of Simpson’s weaknesses, he is only 5-foot-11, is negated some because of the length that Michigan can surround him with.
While Simpson is by nature more of a set up point guard than scorer, don’t get it confused, he absolutely is capable scoring the ball. That said, some of his ability to score is going to be negated in college since the length around the rim in the college game relative to the high school game is going to bother him more than it would a taller and more athletic player.
Even though Simpson isn’t the tallest or most athletic, one of his strengths is his on the ball defense. There are very few prospects in the class that take as much pride in defending the dribble as Simpson. He uses his strength to guide guys away from the hoop and also he is a tremendous competitor with good lateral quickness. Combine that with him being an intelligent player, and Simpson is an excellent defender.
Along with Simpson’s ability in terms of skill and toughness, it is the intangibles that really separate Simpson as a player. He is a kid who is a winner in every sense of the word. Though he isn’t a great shooter, he wants to take the big shot, and just does every one of the little things that coaches love out of their point guards. He is a great communicator as well, and someone who should help the Wolverines win a lot of games.