Vincent Carchletta, USA TODAY

Webblog: The D.J. Wilson metamorphosis

Sam Webb's thoughts on the metamorphosis of Michigan forward D.J. Wilson.

I'm not ready to anoint him a surefire pro yet like they did on ESPN tonight, but the change we've seen in him so far has been one of biggest switch flips I've seen. We can't equate it with Mitch's explosion from regular season to tournament because Mitch did that against the best competition during the most pressure packed time of year.  But you'd have to be blind or a hater to not see that Wilson has elevated his game.  The question is can he sustain it? Time will tell.  What's so surprising is the aspect of his game that has improved the most is his mentality. Rebounding and defense is as much about mentality as they are about physicality. DJ Wilson was big and athletic LAST year. He hasn't changed a ton physically from last year to this year. (Lets not veer off track into a conversation about why he and Mo didn't play more last year. Water under the bridge). The point is now is the kid is just playing with more of an edge so far. He is definitely playing with more energy. As I said in another post... start with crediting Beilien. Last year DJ was a five and played the four sparingly (when he played).  Beilein promised him this summer that he'd be a four, and from the very first practice that's what DJ has been.  Maybe that's what it took to get this level of play out of him? Beilein did challenge DJ to play more his size and not fall in love with shooting Js. The kid has done that. So I guess they both bent a bit.

Watching DJ's sudden metamorphosis reminded of the story of another 6-10 240/250-pounder that runs the floor, blocks shots, is an athletic finisher and has perimeter skills.  Remember for a second that DJ in his sophomore year was about 6-5.  When he got to U-M two years later he was 6-10. Guys not named Anthony Davis don't shed their smaller identities overnight. Davis grew from 6-2 to 6-10 in one year and became an elite pro prospect that could do everything up to and including playing with his back to the basket. To be clear... I'm not saying DJ is even a poor man's Anthony Davis.  I called him a homeless man's Davis on my show this morning. Lol.  I did that because of the parallels in growth spurt, size, and athleticism. DJ obviously isn't nearly as skilled, especially in the post. The kid will never be as good as Davis, and he doesn't have to to be.  If DJ can be to this team was he has been over the first four games... wow!

I don't know all the reasons for his sudden improvement.  I just know that so far he has been a revelation.  Here's to hoping he can keep it up. If he can, and the other bigs can too, the finish line for this team moves tangibly.

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