Dienhart: How will Michigan look next year?

Dienhart: How will Michigan look next year?

Mitch McGary turning pro puts another big chink in Michigan’s hopes for next season. The Wolverines already have seen Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III turn pro, two of their top players from last season’s Big Ten championship squad that advanced to the Elite Eight. The team also saw Jordan Morgan graduate and Jon Horford opt to transfer out for his last season.

John Beilein’s 2014-15 team will be built around the trio of Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton, Jr., and Zak Irvin. Spike Albrecht also will play a key role. It will be vital for Mark Donnal to take the next step in his development after showing some flashes while redshirting last season.

LeVert could be a star, as he blossomed last season as a sophomore by averaging 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Walton got better and better manning the offense from the point, while Irvin needs to develop more of an all-around game after arriving much ballyhooed as Indiana’s Mr. Basketball.

Michigan also will welcome a four-man recruiting class headed by small forward Kameron Chatman, a dynamic 6-7 athlete who will have to hit the ground running. Fellow forward D.J. Wilson also is a touted prospect who will need to provide some production. The class is rounded out by guard Austin Hatch and forward Ricky Doyle.

Where does Michigan likely project to finish next season? Wisconsin will be the Big Ten’s clear favorite. After that, the conference race is filled with intrigue. The Wolverines still likely will be an upper-division finisher with a good shot at making the NCAA tourney. But, no doubt, expectations will be ratcheted down in Ann Arbor next season as Michigan adapts to the biggest talent loss of any team in the Big Ten.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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