John Beilein Assesses His Freshman Class

david dejulius michigan

John Beilein Assesses His Freshman Class

Basketball

John Beilein Assesses His Freshman Class

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan basketball might be coming off a national championship game appearance, but make no mistake, this will be a new-look team in 2018-19.

There are a lot of key pieces returning this season, but the Wolverines lost Moe Wagner to the Los Angeles Lakers, while others like Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Duncan Robinson and Jaaron Simmons — all key players in the maize and blue’s Final Four run — also graduated.

Thus, those who will be taking the court this season are mostly younger players. Sure, Zavier Simpson and Charles Matthews — both starters a year ago — return. Jon Teske — who played behind Wagner returns. Isaiah Livers was a nominal starter — though Robinson and he platooned at that forward position — and fellow 2017-18 freshman Jordan Poole both now have pivotal game experience, especially in the spotlight. Same can be said of Eli Brooks.

But, given the numbers, Michigan will be relying heavily on the contributions of five players who weren’t on campus a year ago.

True freshmen Ignas Brazdeikis, David DeJulius, Brandon Johns, Adrian Nunez and Colin Castleton are just getting acclimated to life in Ann Arbor, and will practice in earnest for the first time at Crisler Center on Tuesday. They now have some experience under their belts now, because Michigan took the trip to Spain last month, but this will be the first time they experience the true six month grind.

While head coach John Beilein didn’t make the trip to Spain, due to undergoing a double-bypass surgery, he did observe how his team performed from afar. Now, he’s back in the saddle — though admittedly not 100% — and ready to lead his team, and is excited to work with his first-year players.

He shared on Tuesday what makes each of his true freshmen special, and how much he thinks each could possibly contribute this year, singling out two who are all but assured to make early appearances.

“Ignas was the one that’s was stand out to everybody just now, because he led us in scoring and rebounding,” Beilein said. “He’s really got some great instincts about the game itself and we’ve got to find a place for him out there, right? We’re going to try and make him very versatile so he can wear a lot of hats.

“Brandon Johns is a guy that I think has shown some great growth in this time. He’s got a chance to play right away. He’s got the body that’s ready to do that.

“David DeJulius has got that body that’s ready, as well. Now, he’s the quarterback. He’s the guy that’s got to figure this out. He’s (Dylan McCaffrey) last year. It will be tougher to throw him in and have the success he’s having right now. So he’s learning all these things, but he could end up getting out there.

“And with Adrian, there’s all a whole bunch of things — he’s more than being a shooter. And he’s going to be a good shooter, but he’s making great progress.

“With Colin, now we double that — he hurt his hand and he was turning 18 the day he came to summer school, or in that month. Young kid, he’s getting better.”

Michigan still has a month-plus before the season kicks off with an exhibition at Crisler Center against Northwood on Nov. 2.

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