Rumors are running rampant over Darius Morris’ status but, for now, everyone should take a deep breath. Tim posted some very rational thoughts on Morris and his future that are worth your time but here’s my take on the situation.
First off, John Beilein clarified the situation by pointing out that Morris has only reached out to the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee and hasn’t officially entered his name in the draft – a major difference from what was reported by the Free Press. Morris has every right to pursue his NBA opportunities, in fact I would encourage him to. He wants to be an NBA player and this is the first step down that road.
Underclassmen begin this journey by soliciting feedback from the NBA Draft Undergraduate Advisory Committee. This committee is designed to provide prospects with candid, honest and useful feedback about their NBA draft standing. If the committee tells Morris that he has the potential to be a first round pick, he should continue along with the process and enter his name in the draft. Go through the workouts and see where he stands. By going through the process with genuine effort, but still making correct and educated decisions, you are able to alleviate any doubts and “what ifs” during the upcoming season. If Morris impresses scouts and is given a first round guarantee, by all means I would encourage him to go. If he’s not going to be drafted in the first round, he should return to school.
For now all we can do is sit back and watch the process unfold. Forget about foolish talk that this will destroy team chemistry or anything like that. E’Twuan Moore, Alex Tyus and Talor Battle are just three players that went through a similar process, entering their names in the draft before withdrawing, that were just fine during this season. Morris won’t be interfering with the rest of the team, most of whom will finish finals and head home for a while, working out on their own. If anything, this process will just make Morris a better player going forward.
The Gazette published a few tidbits about next year’s Big Ten schedule. The takeaways:
- There will be no protected rivalries.
- Every Big Ten team will play seven teams twice and four teams once.
- The single plays will be determined at random with one exception. All schools will play their single plays from the last two seasons twice for the next two years. That means Michigan is guaranteed to play Purdue and Illinois twice during both of the next two seasons.
- There will be only four Big Ten Tournament byes, resulting in one more first round game.
The new scheduling system will likely create some very imbalanced schedules. Michigan will play only one game per season against four the following teams: Indiana, Northwestern, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Nebraska and Minnesota. Draw Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State as single plays and the chances of winning the Big Ten increase exponentially. The in-conference strength of schedule also decreases considerably.
Ideally this will balance out, and it’s nowhere near as bad as the Big East’s 18-team behemoth, but it’s obviously something to pay close attention to going forward. The Big Ten schedule is expected to be released sometime in April after the Final Four.
You look at high school seniors and then look at them freshman year and they are totally different with their bodies. So I think right now they like me playing the four and, depending how I develop, they said I might play a little five as well.
This makes sense because this is one of the more significant holes on Michigan’s roster. After Zack Novak graduates, the position looks to be manned by just Evan Smotrycz and Colton Christian. There are some obvious concerns about Max’s ability to guard some opposing fours but he would seem to be a nice fit offensively – reportedly a good passer with some range on his jumpshot – and on the glass. Bielfledt might not be an instant impact player at the four but Michigan could need his production there for his sophomore year.
Beilein spoke in his roundtable about getting Carlton Brundidge the ball and letting him work off of ball screens and that should be music to CB’s ears. Watching him in high school is endlessly frustrating because his team rarely gets him in a position that best uses his talents. Brundidge has a very specific skill set – attacking the basket – and Michigan should be in a situation to ease him into the rotation naturally. Not forcing him to run the point guard or undertake roles that stretch his limits. Get him coming off of curls, screen and rolls and driving the ball aggressively to the basket.
In and Out
I’m not sure how many times Jared Sullinger has to say it before people believe him: he will be returning to Ohio State next season. He says its true. His dad says its true. Everyone remotely associated with Sullinger is saying it’s true. That means that Ohio State is your consensus preseason favorite to win the Big Ten next year, especially if William Buford follows suit.
Garrick Sherman headlines the early list of Big Ten players that won’t be returning to their respective schools. The Michigan State athletic department announced yesterday that Sherman would be moving on. Peegs.com has a great early look at the incoming, graduating and transferring players in the Big Ten next season.
The real intriguing departure could be Purdue head coach Matt Painter. Rumors have swirled about Painter’s interest in the Missouri head coaching job and he will reportedly meet with Missouri officials today. Is this just a ploy to earn more money from a notoriously cheap athletic department or would Painter actually leave his alma mater for Missouri. We should find out soon enough.