Italy Rewind: Mark Donnal

Dylan Burkhardt

Welcome to “Italy Rewind,” our player-by-player recap and video feature from Michigan’s four-game tour of Italy. Previously: Zak IrvinCaris LeVert, Derrick Walton, Aubrey DawkinsRicky DoyleKameron Chatman & Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Today: Mark Donnal.

Mark Donnal spent last season battling against Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary and Jon Horford in practice as he sat out during his redshirt season. The rest of his time last season was spent in the weight room – he’s now up to 240 pounds – as he prepared for his number 34 to be called this season.

Now Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Hoford are gone and Donnal finally has his opportunity.

Michigan’s trip to Italy was his first chance to show off his improvements since his senior season at Anthony Wayne High School. The 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman started all four games for the Wolverines and averaged 10 points and seven rebounds per game in an impressive first step overseas.

By the numbers

Mark Donnal 10.3 6.5 1.3 80.0% 0.0% 69.6% 13.0% 81.8% 47.8%

Donnal was very solid statistically, making 80% of his two-point field goals and getting to the line fairly often. He had several nice pick-and-roll finishes and got fouled on a handful of others. His double-digit scoring average is a bit deceiving because he scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Petrarca Padova while his other three scoring totals were nine, six and six.

What stood out about his performance on film was his ability to run the floor and get open for transition passes. That’s easier to do against Division 5 Italian competition, but it’s an important skillset that will be useful in game situations. Jordan Morgan made a living out of scoring the majority of his points by beating his man down the floor or finishing off the pick and roll.

Donnal showed a good feel for the ball screen and finished comfortably around the basket. He’s not nearly as comfortable catching the ball in the post and playing with his back to the basket. While he has some skills, he tends to play a bit too upright on the low block and can also be a bit too methodical.

The 6-foot-9 big man has been praised for his jumpshot in the past, but he missed three 3-point field goal attempts in the first two games and didn’t attempt another. He has jump shooting ability, but the consistency in game situations appears to be a work in progress.

While Donnal started all four games, Ricky Doyle generally started the second half – a sign that the duo are neck-and-neck. The question isn’t as much as whether Mark Donnal or Ricky Doyle will be Michigan’s starter at the five position, it’s whether the pair of them can shoulder the burden and be productive at the five position.

“We continue to show Mark (Donnal) and Ricky (Doyle) film so that they can get better,” John Beilein said in Italy. “I really don’t care what each one does; I care what they do collectively. Tonight was 29 points and almost 20 rebounds between the two of them. It would be too much to think about getting 20 and 20 from them, but if we needed to get double-figures, that’s a heck of a big man.”

Last year, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford combined to average 10.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game combined at the five position. Michigan would gladly take that production from Donnal and Doyle, but will be also be concerned with how the duo can defend and rebound against tougher competition. Italy was a great first step for both players, but there’s work to do before the season starts in November.

  • Sunny 42

    I’m really pulling for this kid, I think he has great upside

  • John

    I think both of them will improve as the season goes on. What is great about Doynnal (note: combined) is that its a long season in the Big Ten and each can minimize the physical wear and tear. Both of these guys are young and not a hardened battle veteran like JMo.

    • Mattski

      Was trying to wrap ye old brain around a combined name and couldn’t come up with much. I guess Doynnal is about as good as Anodyne, which was my unhelpful contribution.

      • zeroskie


        • DavZ

          Micky Donnle

      • Chezaroo

        DD ( Double Ds)!!

        • John

          I thought of that (I like it) but the media would never go for such a politically incorrect sexist term..unfortunately.
          RicDon or RickyD’s?

      • mirepoix


  • 93Grad

    Donnal looked better in those clips than I was expecting he would from the reports. He has decent ball skills, moves well and seemed to be in the right position a lot. That said, what will be key with him and Doyle is defense and rebounding against quality Bigs. I don’t think we will know they will handle that until we are deep into the conference regular season.

  • Chris De Sana

    What I like about both our young bigs is that they seem to have good hands and seem at the ready when they roll to the basket after setting the high post pick. Both critical going forward as it is a huge part of the M offense.

  • GregGoBlue

    So great to have a big like either Donnal or Doyle to come off the bench and not have a huge dropoff. If Donnal could make a living in transition, finishing around the basket and as a great passer, I’d be absolutely thrilled. I think that fits his skillset nicely. Rebounding, shooting ability not essential in the Beilein offense for a 5 haha.

    • Northern Blue

      Would be really nice if he could give you a 3 a game too. Just think if they could play through him at top of key to beyond 3 point line, if his shooting could pull the center away from basket, he could do a great job hitting cutters and spacing the floor with the middle of the floor open and let the perimeter guys attack.

  • Mattski

    Is a Doyle vid coming? Hope so.