Setting expectations for Michigan basketball's top-10 transfer portal class (2024)

The class includes five top-100 transfer portal prospects, via 247Sports, and an intriguing blend of positions, experience and skill levels.

Zach Shaw

The Michigan men's basketball team is hitting the reset button this offseason, in more ways than one. The Wolverines have a new head coach in Dusty May, an entirely new coaching and development staff and a whole host of new players coming into the program after last season's dreadful 8-24 mark.

And with that newness is the Wolverines' six-member transfer portal class, ranked ninth in the country by 247Sports. The class includes five top-100 transfer portal prospects, via 247Sports, and an intriguing blend of positions, experience and skill levels.

Below, wediscuss the class, breaking down our pre-summer expectations for the group, including comments from Michigan coach Dusty May.

Guard Tre Donaldson

ICYMI — New Blue Preview: Getting to know Michigan guard Tre Donaldson

Basics

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 200 pounds

Position: Guard

Experience: Junior

Previous school: Auburn

Hometown: Tallahassee, Fla.

High school: Florida State University School

Expectations

After scouting him in high school as an in-state coach, Dusty May seemed pretty smitten with Donaldson as his point guard for the coming season. From the outside, it's a bit of a swing — again, one game with more than 25 minutes — but it's easy after digging more into Donaldson's game to see why May believes Donaldson's best basketball is still ahead of him.

We project Donaldson to be Michigan's starting point guard, and lead the team in steals and assists. I expect him to focus first on working a two-man game with Vlad Goldin and Danny Wolf, and also to push the pace when the situation calls for it.

Scoring is a little harder to forecast, but 8-11 points per game seems reasonable, and he could be even higher if he continues to perform so well as a shooter.

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If Michigan basketball has a transfer portal addition not getting enough buzz, it's this one. Donaldson looks like a very capable floor general and quarterback on the court, and that he can shoot and generate steals is a bonus.

Quote

Michigan coach Dusty May: "He's from Florida and he played AAU so we had seen him play a lot so we were very familiar with his game. We had a lot of background information so when he went into the portal we didn't have to do a lot of homework. We knew a lot about him already, we had watched him.

"We just thought he fit. He could shoot off ball screens, he could shoot off the catch, he's a willing passer. We felt like the ball came out of his hands at the right time whether it's hitting the roll or spreading out for a three, we just thought he was a guy that had a couple of years. Very strong, capable defender and he came from winning. Auburn has won at a high level. … When we plugged in his numbers in a typical game, meaning a 28 or 29 minute game, he was very efficient and his numbers were very conducive to winning."

Guard Roddy Gayle Jr.

ICYMI —New Blue Preview: Getting to know new Michigan guard Roddy Gayle

Basics

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 210 pounds

Position: Guard

Experience: Junior

Previous school: Ohio State

Hometown: Niagara Falls, N.Y.

High school: Lewiston-Porter

Expectations

Having already played two Big Ten seasons, Gayle's projection is easier than others in this series. Gayle might be the safest bet on Michigan's team to average double-figures next season, and will likely compete with Goldin, Nimari Burnett and others to lead the team in scoring. Michigan likes his physicality, shot-creating, and ability to get downhill, and is hoping that Gayle can lead by example to the tone the Wolverines want to set in games.

Of course, Gayle has higher expectations than just leading a team in scoring at this point. Whether Michigan makes the NCAA Tournament and Gayle gets a look as an all-conference player will largely depend on how much he can clean up his efficiency. Making more 3s, turning the ball over less and showing even more consistency on defense could result in Gayle being among the league's better guards, and Michigan having one of the league's better teams.

That's easier said than done, to be sure, but in Gayle, Dusty May and staff landed a coveted high-floor, higher-ceiling transfer portal player. Now, the work for Gayle to hit the latter begins.

Quote

Michigan coach Dusty May: "I watched him play a few times randomly throughout the season and I liked his game. I think he's got the unique ability to get downhill and draw fouls. … That was the thing that excites me, his ability to get downhill, offensive rebound, he runs in transition. He plays off the pick-and-roll well, he's very efficient playing off the pick-and-roll as a passer, his movements in his game, he doesn't over-dribble.

"Like I said, I believed in his jump shot. I know he didn't shoot a great percentage last year, but I think he's a much better shooter than that. When you watched him in transition, when he had a clean look, he knocked it down a very good percentage of the time. We are excited about him on a number of levels. I could probably go on for another 30 minutes talking about Roddy, I think he's a special guy."

Center Vlad Goldin

ICYMI —New Blue Preview: Getting to know Michigan center Vlad Goldin

Basics

Height: 7-foot-1

Weight: 240 pounds

Position: Center

Experience: Graduate transfer (fifth year)

Previous school: Florida Atlantic

Hometown: Nalchick, Russia

High school: Putnam Science Academy

Expectations

As of now, we expect Goldin to start as Michigan's center, and compete with Roddy Gayle to be the team's leading scorer and face of the team. As of now, he has a strong case as Michigan's best overall player, and plays a high-impact position in the Big Ten.

He'll be a candidate to be voted team captain, and should be a leader both on and off the court regardless. All-Big Ten honors are very much on the table, though the Big Ten has a number of touted big men who transferred in this offseason from a variety of conferences, so it's hard to immediately project the hierarchy.

Given his potential, position and experience with May, a case could be made that he is Michigan's most important player in determining the Wolverines' success in the 2024-25 season.

Quote

Dusty May: "I don't think I've ever been around a guy no matter how it was going for him or the group, even if someone strayed from the group, that he wasn't welcoming them back with open arms and acting with empathy. … If you just watch him every single day, he's caring, he's empathetic, he brings good spirit and an attitude every single day, I could go on and on. His parents did a heckuva job and he's going to be very, very successful with whatever he does next."

Guard Rubin Jones

ICYMI —New Blue Preview: Getting to know Michigan guard Rubin Jones

Basics

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 190 pounds

Position: Guard

Experience: Graduate/fifth-year senior

Previous school: North Texas

Hometown: Houston, Texas

High school: Jack Yates High School

Expectations

Jones is probably one of Michigan's wild-card players entering the season. There's a chance he starts at multiple spots, is a double-digit scorer and is Michigan's best backcourt defender. There's also a chance his game doesn't translate to the Big Ten as well as hoped, and the flaws in his game prove too inconsistent for what Michigan needs this season.

Our guess, somewhere in the middle, is that he winds up being Michigan's first guard off the bench, and is added to lineups and situations that need a 3-and-D spark. I don't know how similar their games are, but I forecast a Chaundee Brown-type role for Jones this season, but with an option to play point guard if needed. His experience and energy should endear him to teammates and fans alike, and Michigan's coaches will be at ease knowing that Jones can be a valuable option off the bench at multiple positions.

There wasn't a lot of buzz about Jones when he was in the transfer portal, but as long as he's hitting 3s, defending multiple positions and playing within the system, Michigan should have plenty of minutes available for him in the coming season.

Quote

Michigan coach Dusty May: "The reason I wanted to bring him in is so I didn't have to play against him anymore. He is a throwback player where he doesn't care about anything other than winning. He's got a great EQ where his self-awareness, his ability to adapt to whatever team he's on and I guess just be a chameleon. Where if you need defense, it's time to guard. If you need shooting, he's an effective three-point shooter.

"We've gotta help him get better at finishing around the rim, that's one area we thought we could help him with. His unselfishness, and these are the things I'm talking about offensively. We all love to watch good offense. Defensively, he played with a torn hamstring the last half this past season. Torn hamstring. We thought he was the best perimeter defender in our league."

Forward Sam Walters

ICYMI —New Blue Preview: Getting to know Michigan forward Sam Walters

Basics

Height: 6-foot-10

Weight: 198 pounds

Position: Forward

Experience: Sophom*ore

Previous school: Alabama

Hometown: The Villages, Florida

High school: Villages Charter School

Expectations

I don't currently expect Walters to start for Michigan next season, but I'm not sure that's even the plan necessarily. May and Michigan's staff added a number of veterans who can help lead the Wolverines now, while Walters, with three years of remaining eligibility, is expected to help lead Michigan's future. He'll play this fall, likely as a top wing or forward option off the bench, but does not need to start to play a meaningful role for a good Michigan team.

That said, Walters controls his own destiny to some degree. Michigan doesn't actually have a proven player on the wing (Burnett and Jones are more tall guards than wings), and as long as Wolf is logging minutes at the '5' behind Goldin, there is playing time available at the '4.' If Walters can add strength, round out his game and hold his own defensively, there's a ripe opportunity for him to enjoy a breakout season.

Quote

Michigan coach Dusty May: "I watched Sam play from eighth or ninth grade. He was a good player in the state of Florida early, I was laughing the first time he went in the portal. … We had a lot of connections. His high school coach is from Michigan so he holds this place in a very high regard. We've been friends for a while, we knew a lot of people around him. His AAU coaches, the travel coaches, his workout guys, we had a lot of connections to Sam coincidentally and it all kind of fell into place.

"It was a quick recruitment. Also, the coaches at Alabama, our guys are close with their staff. Any time a player leaves and he did a nice job and was a good person, the staff usually tries to help them and they said great things about them. I think they helped us because they thought we would be a good fit for him after he decided to go in."

Forward Danny Wolf

ICYMI —New Blue preview: Getting to know Michigan forward Danny Wolf

Basics

Height: 7-foot

Weight: 255 pounds

Position: Forward/center

Experience: Junior

Previous school: Yale

Hometown: Glencoe, Illinois

High school: Northfield Mount Hermon

Expectations

Though I'm not sure I would rate him as Michigan's top transfer this offseason, as 247Sports did in its transfer portal rankings, it's hard not to like what Wolf can bring to the Wolverines' rebuilding effort. He's a stylistic complement to Goldin, adds height and positional shooting to Michigan's frontcourt, and like many of Michigan's transfers, has already shown how much he can improve with an effective offseason.

I expect him to average around 25 minutes per night, with roughly half of that coming at the '5.' I don't predict he'll be Michigan's first or second scoring option on a nightly basis, but I do think he can be a key matchup problem at forward, and will be ready to help the Wolverines' offense flow when he's asked to. Defensively, his rebounding, positioning and ability to defend aggressively without fouling will be assets.

In short, Wolf is the kind of player NCAA Tournament teams need to win consistently in a sport with so many stylistic and matchup variances.

Quote

Michigan coach Dusty May: "Danny, he's a very, very good three-point shooter for a 7-footer. He dribbles the ball well, he handles the ball like a guard. He passes it, they play through him offensively. That's how we used our backup center last year, (Giancarlo) Rosado. We're very well-versed in that style of play. He fit us offensively and the question was does he fit defensively with another 7-footer, 7-foot-1, guy?

"After watching Danny, we felt like he moves his feet well. He's got good mobility for a 7-footer and he embraces contact. We think of a summer of really strong, consistent weight work and speed work with our new strength coach, he'll be ready to go. The Big Ten is a bigger league than we're accustomed to playing to."

Setting expectations for Michigan basketball's top-10 transfer portal class (2024)

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