2010-11 Player Profile: Blake McLimans

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He could be Michigan’s starting center, yet most haven’t seen him play but a few minutes of an exhibition game. Who is Blake McLimans and what will he bring to the table? At this point, all we can do is try to piece together a guess.

Despite his freshman eligibility, Blake is actually older than junior Zack Novak and the third oldest player on the roster (behind Bartelstein and Douglass). Thanks to a 5th year of prep school and a redshirt, Blake is a rare 20 year old freshman. Obviously age doesn’t necessarily translate into production but it certainly makes Blake unique.

When trying to figure out Blake McLimans’ game, the first thing that stands out is his size. He’s easily the tallest player on Michigan’s roster at every bit of his listed 6-foot-10. He was tall before but now he’s put on the muscle, having gained 30 pounds since he arrived on campus – he’s not Jared Sullinger but he looks the part of a guy that can survive as a division 1 big man.

Reasons to be Excited

  • Three point shooting: McLimans can shoot the three ball and that will help spread the floor offensively. It will go a long way if Blake can hit threes consistently enough to keep defenses honest.
  • Length: McLimans will give Michigan length in the middle of the defense. This is an upgrade from last year’s defense which was anchored by DeShawn Sims, at just 6-foot-8. McLimans length defensively should also pay dividends in the middle of the 1-3-1 zone.
  • Shot blocking: In the limited prep footage of McLimans that we saw he appeared to be a great shot-blocker. Defensively, blocked shots are probably the #1 contribution that McLimans will make early on.

Reasons to Worry

  • Consistency: Despite being touted as a shooter, Blake didn’t shoot the ball well in Europe – just 27% on twos and 29% on threes.
  • Rebounding: When comparing Michigan’s three potential centers, at this point, Blake appears to be the weakest rebounder of the bunch. He’s the tallest player on the team but needs to develop a mean streak on the glass.
  • Back to the basket game: At this point, McLimans back to the basket game is a work in progress. He’ll show flashes but I assume a majority of his points are going to come off threes and assists down low.

Outlook

At this point it appears that Michigan’s “three headed center” is largely going to be based on the flavor of the day. McLimans, Morgan, and Horford all bring something unique to the table but are all so young that they will have their individual ups and downs. Ideally, Beilein will be able to use them in small enough doses to mask their weaknesses and maximize the benefits they bring to the table. You have three players for the five position which means all three will average a maximum of around 20 minutes per contest (depending on whether Horford ends up redshirting).  I think Blake may start, mostly because he has the best chance of winning the jump ball, but the true test will be who closes games.

At the end of the day, Blake’s success will come down to his shooting – most importantly his three point shooting. He’ll probably fire up over 60 or 70 threes this year and if he can connect on 35% of those shots, he’ll be in good shape. Having a five man that can hit the three stretches the defense and allows Beilein’s offense to run more efficiently.

  • gordie bell

    Is Horford likely to redshirt? I hope Blake, Christian and Morgan can contribute enough so Horford can redshirt if need be.

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan Burkhardt

    Judging by Beilein’s last presser, it didn’t sound like Horford was going to redshirt. That doesn’t mean he won’t but it appears he’s in the mix.

    Christian is likely to play the four along with Smotrycz.

    While Morgan, Horford, and McLimans battle at the five.

  • Sam

    Personally, I would say that I would be very surprised if Jon Horford did not redshirt. While Beilein has been saying that he is right in the mix, I think he is saying this just to show that he is developing well and will eventually be a solid player. At this point though, I don’t see any way he has bulked up enough to play the post in the Big Ten. Judging from the high school ball I watched him play, he is simply not aggressive or big enough yet to compete. I think we will see about a 65/35 split of Blake McLimans/Jordan Morgan.

    I also think he will fire up closer to 90-100 threes this season rather than 50-60.

  • CraigP

    Sounds like Blake is almost a clone of Gibson. Potential outside shot, not the best rebounder and limited game with back to the basket.

    Should we expect production from Blake similar to what we got from Gibby? More? Less?

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan Burkhardt

    CraigP: I almost put the Gibson reference in the post. If he was a Gibson that actually made his threes, that would be intriguing I think.

    Also, I agree in reference to the number of threes, I originally had 80 in there and tuned it down a bit.

  • Bigfoot

    Woah, let’s give the guy some room to breathe before we start comparing him to legends, Craig.

  • immascorer187

    Well I like chances with 3 centers with size and bringing something unique to the table imo . I like the fact that Morgan and Horford can slide over to the four if needed . Blake can as well .

    CC and ES can also play small forward as well . We are extremly versitile at all spot imo . I like his profile as well . I’m glad to see fans finally giving kids a chance to play before judging .

    When CC signed people went bananas . Now he making people eat crow so far . Just like think all the Horford doubters will as well .

    Sorry for me excited and optimistic about this team but I just have a good feeling . I won’t get overally excited cause I don’t want to get banned or have my post deleted .

    But I just have faith good things will happen this year imo . I havea very good feeling that Blake will surprise some . We got Depth , Size , Skill and Versilitilty ( spellcheck ) .

    I love our chances .

  • BlueRev

    The amount if threes depend on PT…
    60-70 in 20mpg grows to 90-100 in 27 mpg.

    I like someone’s idea on another site that we pair McLimans w/Colton and Morgan w/Smot–each pair has an inside guy w/an outside guy and RS “veteran” w/true frosh. In that scenario we have four 20 minute guys… Smotz is the highest scorer of them all whether off bench or starting, Colton and Morgan provide contact and McLimans takes some threes and blocks some shots. Horford subs in when foul trouble/off-nights.

    To start games I like McL/CC and to end games I like Mo/Smot.

  • Adam VO

    I haven’t seen this on here yet. Iowa has lost Matt Gatens for an indefinite amount of time. It’ll be interesting to see if he reshirts or not. They didn’t have much besides him to start with.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=5733544

  • Kenny

    A lot of unknowns, can’t wait to see all these freshman in action.

  • detroitbry

    ???

    This guy is the tallest player on the squad and put on 30 pounds of muscle yet we should be excited because he can shoot a three but is a weak rebounder for a big man and had a lane game that is a work in progress?I’m speechless, I really am. I just dont understand this. Hopefully Brundidge and Burke with a side order of Baby Hardaway return us to playing ball the right way. Attacking the tin, rebounding, playing tough defense, I hope Blake concentrates on blocking shots and less three balls.

  • Sid

    I, um, sort of agree with detroitbry. Center, get thee to basket o’ Saturday and all…

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan Burkhardt

    To that point I would say that it’s a role. There’s a reason he’s not a 30 minute per game guy and he’s only a redshirt freshman. If he can be a presence blocking shots and hit a reasonable number of threes, that’s a beneficial role to this team.

  • JB

    is the gibson comparison mainly based on his style of play? i guess i’m wondering how does his athleticism/footwork/foot speed compare to Gibson?

  • Bluebufoon

    Did something just happen on the recruiting trail ? Coach Bacari Alexander tweeted earlier this afternoon, “… and BOOM!” What would merit “… and Boom!” ? Amir Williams ? Sheron Dorsey-Walker ?

    Probably just wish-full thinking on my part.

  • Polisci

    It seems to me that one of Coach’s favorite plays is the center setting a pick for the point up top and then rolling to the three point line for an open shot. Thus, McLimans sounds perfect to me.

  • AG2

    Well, he’d be perfect *as long as he can actually hit the shot.* We can’t have sub-30% “shooters” playing meaningful minutes and be successful.

  • MarcO

    Legend. That’s funny

  • amherstal

    Bry, I think you’re taking “Reasons to be excited” to literally. I take is simply as “strengths”. “Reasons to worry” is simply “weaknesses”.

    I don’t think the rest of the article is selling anything as a reason to be excited. It’s mostly just lists perceived strengths and weeknesses.

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan Burkhardt

    Yeah… I’m using them instead of strengths and weaknesses for new guys because they are less concrete without any production to back them.

  • JB

    how’s blake’s athleticism/foot speed compare to gibson?

  • AG2

    Evan Turner was the #2 overall pick for Philly and he’s not starting. Isn’t there something wrong with that?

  • aMaized
  • TheYooper

    Cavs beat the Celtics! Too bad Manny didn’t suit up.

  • cametowin

    What did I say wrong to get blacklisted ?

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan Burkhardt

    Manny did suit up, just didn’t play.

    Also, we are having issues with the spam filter. If something you post doesn’t go through then shoot me an email (umhoops@gmail.com) and I can check it out. It isn’t “blacklisting” it’s just a filter catching your post for some reason.

  • TheYooper

    Ah I didn’t see him on the Box Score. http://espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?id=301027005
    I’m not much of a pro follower, do they suit up 12-15 but can only play 10?

  • http://www.umhoops.com Dylan Burkhardt

    15 on the roster. 12 dress. You can play as many of those 12 as you want. Mo Williams didn’t dress today because of a groin injury.

  • kevin

    “It seems to me that one of Coach’s favorite plays is the center setting a pick for the point up top and then rolling to the three point line for an open shot.”

    state ran that play a lot with suton and it worked well. based on the info and build he would seem to be a reasonable comparison.

  • Champswest

    I have a hunch that by mid season Morgan will be getting half or more of the #5 minutes. Not that it matters all that much, because I think that the strength of this team (and especially the #5 position) is the depth. This gives us the ability to roll one guy in after another.
    Gibson didn’t see much playing time last year because he had to be available to relieve Sims. Our height presence was usually only 6’7″ and 6’5″ (sometimes 6’10” and 6’5″. This year we will be able to be 6’10”, 6’9″ 6’5″ (or even taller). I can’t wait to see it.

  • detroitbry

    I will never get excited about a big fella that stands around the arc pushing up threes. Laimbeer could hit a three but he also did the dirty work. The reason why I’m excited about Evan Smotrycz is because he showed a midrange game. Evan can hit a three but I love that he handles, goes to the lane and shows a nice midrange game. A 6’9 guy that has a diverse game is deadly, nothing wrong with McClimans being able to pop out and hit a three but I think he would help the team more by being inside.

  • AG2

    Well, if McLimans shot doesn’t develop, or if his rebounding or defense is a liability, Beilein might decide he needs more defense from that position and go with the more physical Morgan.

    At the very least, we’ve got 15 fouls at the 5 spot!

  • AC1997

    I think McLimans minutes may actually depend on how Smotrycz develops. If they’re getting a decent inside-outside offensive game from Smotrycz I think you’ll see Morgan play a lot more to provide the “dirty work” that detroitbry mentions.

    If Smotrycz is just a guy out there and sharing minutes with Colton and Novak then I think you’ll see them try and get McLimans to provide some offensive diversity. But he and Smotrycz are a little redundant on the court it seems, so I won’t be shocked if Morgan is the starter and McLimans is the spark off the bench.

    I don’t feel as strongly as detroitbry does about planting the center in the lane and leaving him there. But I will say that it was very frustrating to me that so many Michigan players either tried for a layup or a three. If McLimans is a good shooter, have him focus on a 15-foot jumper. It would increase his shooting percentage, it still forces the defense to guard him away from the hoop, and it doesn’t thwart his rebounding since he won’t be as far from the basket.

  • JBlair52

    Bry I dont see anyone here MAKING you be excited.

    I dont have a link but I think earlier this year in the spring there was an interview with either McLimans or with Beilein (about McLimans).

    I think it was mentioned about him adding so much weight and said the thought is that he can’t just be an outside shooter. He has to get inside and use his body. So there you have it. Making the effort toward that end.

  • Kenny

    Agree with Bry, for McLimans to play major minutes, he needs to play physical inside both offensively and defensively.

  • georgeesq.

    I think that what we see in November will not be what we see in January. There will be a lot of tinkering and evaluation. Some of the young kids will progress faster than others. I don’t expect McLimans to be a force inside at the outset with his back to the basket. I do expect him to give us some interior defense because of his height and mobility. I expect him to do most of his scoring on mid-range shots.

    I think passing will be a factor in terms of which big will get the most PT. Beilein likes his post players to be good passers and that’s an important part of the offense.

    One positive in having three bigs is that they have size to practice against.

  • Trevor

    @AG2:

    Turner didn’t start, but he played 31 minutes, scored a team-high 16, and filled up the rest of the stat sheet in various ways, while playing for a team with a number of established wings.

    I don’t think his not starting is an indictment of the draft system (if I’m correctly reading said indictment as the thrust of your post).

  • Bluebufoon

    What will be interesting to see is where McLimans goes with his strength and conditioning in the next few years ? Blake, if memory serves, came to U-M at 217 and he is now 238 pounds, will he continue to add weight and if he does how big will he get ?

    PS Horford is not redshirting. Coach Beilein addressed that at U-M’s media day.

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