Mag Excerpt: Healthy Wilson Adds Versatility

The next issue of GoBlueWolverine the Magazine is our 2014/2015 Basketball Preview. In this excerpt we highlight the talent and potential impact of freshman D.J. Wilson. The skilled 6-9 forward has packed on significant muscle and is fully healed from the broken finger he suffered in the offseason.

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Sam Webb:  How is D.J. Wilson health wise and where does he fit in the mix with his length and versatility? 

Jeff Meyer:  “His versatility is huge.  He has a 7+ wingspan.  He can play in the middle of the court, which he has had plenty of reps doing that of late with coach BA and Coach Beilein, but he can also play on the wings.  So we have an opportunity to see and work with his skill development as a wing player for us.  The thing I would say about DJ is and he didn’t have an opportunity to play in Italy.  He has recovered and he is in full practice mode, but he was a great teammate.  He was fully engaged as a young man who wasn’t able to play, but was able to travel with the team and he was fully engaged as a teammate.  That was encouraging to us because that’s our culture.  Coming back, he’s been a sponge.  Again for lack of a better term, he has taken information on the run, been able to absorb and apply it immediately.  We’re real encouraged with that.”

Bacari Alexander:  “Quickly to piggyback on D.J. Wilson, Coach Beilein and the entire staff have really enjoyed working with him.  We sort of see him as a Swiss Army Knife.  Here is a guy that can do a multitude of things like Jeff alluded too, but he is a young man since the time he committed to the University of Michigan has gained 35 pounds.  That’s very, very impressive, because now he’s at least in a position to be game ready.  For a kid to make that kind of change over time, invest that type of time.  I think it is important to note, as we were playing games in Italy, here is a guy that was conditioning really hard before the game, during halftime at games.  It was almost to the point where we told Coach Sanderson, hey he needs to sit in the locker room and listen to coaching points.  That’s the type of desire that he’s displayed and his early evidence is starting to show to us that he will have the ability to shoot the basketball a little bit, make plays for others, use his great length inside.  We’re challenging him right now to learn multiple positions in what would describe as a very complex offensive scheme.  That’s a tribute to his preparation, his high school coaches, his background and his willingness to learn because that is something that has been a challenge with players before him, but that learning curve has shown us through the willingness to listen, spend time, invest in individual skill development, you can learn how to play those multiple positions.  Similar to what Zack and Glenn Robinson like that before him has done.”

Sam Webb:  One more on him before we jump off and talk about your other players, projection wise, I’m not asking you to predict what he’s going to average and what’s he going to be, but where do you see him fitting in on the court this year?

lavall jordan:  “He is a multidimensional player as Jeff and BA has said.  He’s skilled.  He’s 6’9-3/4” with a 7’2” wingspan.  That’ll provide great length around the rim, so he can play out as a forward, on the wing with the ball, play on the perimeter and be able to pass it and make some shots.  He rebounds it and he can affect shots at the rim.  So I think he’ll play in the middle of the floor as well and give us another option a little bit different than Mark, Ricky and Max because he’s got a little more length and athleticism to be around the rim and maybe deflect some balls and challenge some shots.  He could be out there in a number of different ways and it’s always good to have versatile guys, similarly to what we’ve had on the wing with Zack and Glenn being able to move around or with Nik being able to play on the wing, go to the backcourt and Tim Hardaway when he was here.  It’s something that we look for in the recruiting process, guys that can maybe be multi-positional players, offensive and multi-positional on defenders.  DJ Wilson moves his feet so it allows you to potentially switch some guard screens.  It means he can keep guards in front of him and do different things and have some versatility defensively as well.”

To view this feature in its entirety, our Big Ten opponent previews, in-depth features on freshman impact, Austin Hatch's miraculous story, and much much more, check out the next issue of GoBlueWolverine The Magazine.

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