Darius Morris– His toughness may be his greatest asset and that is saying a lot. Morris landed face first after being undercut early in his club's Saturday afternoon contest, but he came back after the intermission to run with the team and picked up right where he left off. Unfortunately he rolled his ankle in the latter stages of the game and was shelved for the rest of the day… and according to his teammates… for the rest of the weekend. That said, in the two games we watched him during the team camp (on Friday and Saturday), he proved that he is the best player in attendance. He has an excellent handle, uncanny court vision, and a great sense where his teammates need the ball in order to be successful. His willingness to drive in amongst the trees and give up his body, his defensive tenacity, and his leadership… his intangible qualities could make him far more valuable to this team than his recruiting ranking suggests. Saturday he ran the break like a general and distributed like a delivery man… right on time. This kid can play with the best of them and he knows it. Beilein will help him improve his jumper and strength coach Jon Sanderson will help him further build his body. Everything else is in place. He should be a big addition to the team this year and is a perfect candidate to take the leadership reins.
Matt Vogrich – Vogrich is a great shooter just like advertised. He has a quick trigger and heats up in a heartbeat. Knocked down three straight in his first game Saturday. His doesn't have an exceptional handle, but it is better than many give him credit for. He is a better ball-handler than Stu Douglass, for instance, so it stands to reason that he'll have more success at putting the ball on the floor a bit when unsuspecting opponents begin to realize that he is capable of becoming unconscious from deep. He also won't be the liability against the press that some of the guards were last year.
Tim Hardaway Jr. – It's clear that this young man would fit perfectly into Beilein's system. In the three days he has been here he has shown that he can shoot off of screens, off the dribble, and spotting up. He was bombing away with great success against Clarkston and then later against DeLaSalle Saturday. On the defensive end his length and in-your shorts mentality bothered opponents all day. On the flip side, he has only a decent handle so he uses a big first step as opposed to a killer-crossover like his dad had to get by guys. And in terms of athleticism… he is not on par with Trey Zeigler and Casey Prather. Simply put, he isn't by any stretch of the imagination a run/jump guy. That shouldn't be taken to mean he is a poor athlete… he's a decent athlete that can finish… just not always above the rim. Throw it all into a hat and you have a player that may fit in better in Ann Arbor than any other place on his list. At this point no one could criticize Beilein for extending a scholarship offer. Hardaway can shoot it, he has the length that is particularly disruptive in the 1-3-1, the incoming freshmen Wolverines like him, and he is a heady player. Plus by the sounds of it, he wants to be a Wolverine. Like we said yesterday… it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.
Blake McLimans – There's a little to be desired body-wise, but not as much as first thought. He looks like he has added a few pounds based on the descriptions that we were given of him during basketball season. Building his body further can easily be taken care of. He has a great frame and looks like he will carry more weight easily. Even without that improvement, he already looks like another good looking piece to the puzzle. He is every bit of 6-10 (if not taller), has good feet, and has that trait that Beilein covets…he can flat-out shoot it. His shooting motion is more elongated than you'd like, but that's more a product of lack of strength than bad form. He brings the ball down a bit to get the appropriate power behind it. (The deadly shooting youngster Austin Angel that we talked about on day one has the same problem. He too has to gather himself to get the appropriate propulsion.) With more muscle he'll get his shot off much quicker, which would make leaving on the perimeter him to go help a more dangerous proposition. If Saturday was any indication, he is also a pretty good defender. He totally stymied Clarkston's Matt Kamieniecki thanks to quick feet and a number of blocked shots.
Carlton Brundidge – How many times do we need to say that "CB" has that dog mentality that's needed in a star? He wants to punish everyone defending him and does exactly that. He was really decisive on the break Saturday. It's obvious how smart he is. The only thing that matters to him on the break is scoring… it doesn't matter if it's him or a teammate. He showed the ability to set up teammates and passes extremely well. The problem for him seems to be too many players on his team think they're him. Numerous times down the court Brundidge didn't even touch the ball during the entire offensive possession, let alone shoot it. Give him credit for maintaining his composure and not getting down on teammates, who quite frankly, should have been gotten down on for some of the wild ill-advised shots they threw up. That made for tough sledding against a Jackson (OH) team featuring athletic MAC bound forwards Josh Eggner (a 6-7, 190lb. inside/out athlete headed to Akron) and Mark Henniger (a 6-8 200lb.athletic postman headed to Kent State). Jackson rolled comfortably to victory and Brundidge spent the last five-plus minutes on bench after the game got out of hand.
Brundidge drives between Eggner (left) and Henniger (right)
Eso Akunne – He'll be one of the best walk-ons Michigan has had in years. He has a nose for scoring and can do it from all over. His strength carried him past his opponents to the rim all day long. He also is a pretty good shooter and has a pretty good handle that offsets what he lacks in quickness. He'll still create match-up problems on the college level in certain situations. He will be able to overpower many of the guards he faces. One clear improvement he'll need to make, though, is to become a better distributor off the bounce. Once Eso is into his move, book it…the shot is going up. That's not surprising for a young man that had to be everything for his high school team. If he is to see time at the point (which is one of the roles he could have at Michigan), he'll have do more than be a good stand-still passer (which he is)… he'll have also do as good of a job finding them when he puts it on the floor. Outstanding kid and outstanding player to pick up as a walk-on.