How Zavier Simpson and New-Look Michigan Basketball Improved this Offseason

zavier simpson michigan point guard

How Zavier Simpson and New-Look Michigan Basketball Improved this Offseason

Basketball

How Zavier Simpson and New-Look Michigan Basketball Improved this Offseason

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan basketball starts in earnest on Tuesday with the first official practice of the 2018-19 season taking place at Crisler Center.

And it’s a different vibe here in Ann Arbor, as the Wolverines are coming off a national championship appearance, a loss to Villanova. But, there have been several key departures, thus those left from last year’s core group will bear that much more of a burden as leaders.

One such player is third-year point guard Zavier Simpson, whose stout defense and ability to dribble drive into the lane electrified fans as the 2017-18 season wore on.

We already know about Simpson’s defensive prowess, but how much more has he worked on becoming that much more of a threat on the offensive side?

This offseason, it was one of his primary focuses.

“I worked a lot on the offensive side,” Simpson said. “(Built) confidence. I feel like I improved and I feel like that will be a good tool that I can add to our team.

“I’ve improved in almost all areas.”

But, while his own game is something he has made sure he took a big step forward this offseason, the bigger focus for Simpson was becoming that much more of a leader.

The Wolverines welcome in five new first-year players, many of whom will be expected to contribute this year. Simpson has taken the onus upon himself to help them acclimate as quickly as possible.

There’s no hazing, no the-freshman-must-wait-their-turn, rigamarole. As far as Simpson sees it, the quicker he can help this group get up to speed, the better for the team as a whole.

“I’m able to coach more and just help out the young guys, because I’ve been in that position,” Simpson said. “So I’m just able to be a teacher — I’m a player-teacher — and just being able to be there for them. Just making sure they can learn every single day without getting frustrated.”

Behind Simpson, of course, is second-year point guard Eli Brooks. But eyes will definitely be on enigmatic Detroit (MI) East English Village Prep four-star point guard David DeJulius, who continued throughout his senior season to put up points in an impressive way.

Simpson says that DeJulius is wise beyond his years, and is looking forward to seeing how he and the other freshmen progress as the team eyes the start of the season on Nov. 6.

“David — he’s extremely tough,” Simpson said. “He’s not coming in as a freshman, thinking, ‘I have a point guard in front of me.’ He’s extremely tough and he has a good IQ. He’s going to be competing every single day.

“As with all of the freshmen on the team. I feel like that’s going to get us better — that’s how we’re going to learn.”

While the Wolverines went to the brink last season, there isn’t necessarily a foreboding feeling of starting anew towards what ended up being last season’s goal.

Of course, that’s where this team would like to end up, but Simpson says that what’s more on his mind is taking things one step at a time, moving forward in a slow progression.

If they take things day-by-day, they can get where they want to be, but it will take a modicum of patience, learning and working towards that ultimate goal systematically.

“We just have to learn every single day,” Simpson said. “Our mind isn’t on the national championship or things like that. We just want to get better among the core group we have and just get better every single day.

“We still have a long time until the season. As long as we get better every single day, I feel like we’re in a good position to do anything.”

Contact/Follow @WolverinesWire@isaiahhole

Latest

More WolverinesWire
Home