Coaching, scholarship questions put on hold at Michigan banquet

Zach Shaw

At its annual end-of-season celebration, the Michigan basketball team was supposed to reflect on its season, but much of the focus on Wednesday night was on the future.

With an assistant coaching vacancy, multiple transfers, a scholarship spot to fill and two seniors pursuing basketball options next season while still recovering from surgeries, plenty of question marks surround Michigan’s immediate future.

But based on what Michigan coach John Beilein and senior guards Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht said Wednesday, those questions aren’t likely to be answered soon.

While fans plead for Albrecht — who is eligible for a fifth season of NCAA basketball after four with the Wolverines — to return to Michigan, the senior insists that he will wait until after graduation April 30 to really consider his other options. Albrecht also said that he is only 85-percent healthy, and would want to hear from doctors before seeking out any opportunities for next fall. By his estimate, he will be 100-percent healthy by October.

And though Beilein and Albrecht both confirmed that the guard has yet to speak directly with another school. The two talk every day, and that the conversations have been both transparent and productive.

“I want to play,” Albrecht said when asked what he’s looking for in a fifth-year suitor. “Me and Coach B have been talking, but as everyone knows they’ve got a point guard coming in, and they have other needs they need to fill, so he’s going to have to make some choices, but I wouldn’t expect a decision for a little bit.

“Right now the biggest thing is finishing up with school. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in a couple weeks, and I’m definitely not making a decision before those things.”

With a scholarship spot available, the possibility of Albrecht’s return remains. Beilein, however, is considering all options. With two point guards (Derrick Walton Jr. and Xavier Simpson) already on the team and a sudden shortage at the wing position, Albrecht’s return is no guarantee.

Beilein also noted that he has had late recruits before — Albrecht included — and wouldn’t rule out a fifth 2016 commit. He did note, though, that such a move impacts his 2017 recruiting class, which could make a graduate transfer a more appealing move. Beilein was also not opposed to leaving the scholarship spot unfilled if no good fits emerged.

“I’m looking out for every option, but I don’t have an answer for you yet,” Beilein said. “I’m not ruling out anything … I’m looking out for what’s best for our program. We’re going to give it time and see where it goes.”

One vacancy that will not go unfilled is that of departing assistant coach LaVall Jordan. The longtime assistant of Beilein’s announced last week that he would become the head coach at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Beilein said he has heard interest from “many” coaches seeking the position — we broke down some potential fits earlier this week — but wouldn’t likely make a decision until May, after the two April evaluation periods. Beilein noted that it has been six years since he has hired a new assistant, and that the process should not be rushed.

“I’m trying to remember that process,” he said. “I talked with someone who was in the process with us last time and I said, how did we do that last time.

“I want to make sure we get the right guys for what we need at this time. But I don’t want it to be a quick fix, either. I want it to be a guy that’s coaching here for a long time.”

That’s not to say that there’s no shortage of applicants though.

“I found out one thing: Too many people have my cell phone number.”

For the time being, Director of Player Personnel and former NBA player Chris Hunter will fill in for Jordan on the recruiting trail.

While Michigan looks to fill its scholarship and assistant coaching vacancy, its other departing senior, LeVert, is looking to recover in full after undergoing surgery on his left heel two weeks ago.

Though LeVert — who was in a heavy walking boot Wednesday — expects to fully recover by July, his draft stock is slipping as his health becomes a red flag. To help alleviate concerns, LeVert hopes to work out for teams in limited fashion, and is even considering an appearance at the NBA combine — even if not in full health.

“We’re hoping for a full recovery by the mid summer, but as far as the combine and team workout goes we’re not sure of any of that,” LeVert said. “We’re just going to take it day by day and week by week and see what happens.”

  • JJ3ball

    Kill two birds with one stone. Bring Spike back as a player coach!!!

  • Wayman Britt

    I know a lot of people what to bring Spike back, but maybe he doesn’t want to come back. Spike is a good player, why would he want to come back to UM and play 12 – 18 minutes a game and be a third guard. Spike could transfer to some other Div 1 university and start and play 33 – 35 minutes a game. He could be a major contributor to another program. So if he doesn’t come back to UM, don’t be quick to blame Beilein and UM.

    • Kenny

      don’t agree on this one. 1, Spike knows Beilein’s offense inside and out but may not fit into other offenses. 2, Spike and Walton can play together, and Simpson has a lot to learn. Spike can easily play 25 minutes a game. If he is 100%, he could even beat out Walton.

      • GTFOmycourt

        Completely agree Kenny.

        It is a big assumption to assume that a healthy Spike will be the third point guard. Spike has his weakness but does anybody even believe that anyone else on next year’s team would be better than Spike at running the pick n roll?

        • Chillax

          agreed. Unfortunately the biggest assumption is that he can get healthy and play. According to him and his doctor he was supposed to be fine before the previous season.

          • GTFOmycourt

            I was using the term “healthy” more as a qualifier. I wonder what other people think after listening to Spikes interview above. Here were my takeaways: According to the interview Spike was not aware Dawkins was going to leave. When Dawkins announced he was leaving JB contacted Spike the same day. According to Spike he and JB are going to revisit the possibilities of his return after he is tested by doctor’s. The main thing they will test is recovery time after heavy workouts. It seems that Spike’s return would be contingent on the results of the tests.

          • GTFOmycourt

            With regard to whether or not it would be smart to keep Spike around everyone seems to be assuming he is not and will not be healthy. I will just say this: if he can show that he is healthy JB would be dumb to not keep him around. JB is not dumb.

          • Chillax

            I don’t know if it’s dumb not to keep him around. If you can find a transfer that’s worth it and can give you a couple years that’s a huge boost especially to fill the wing position. Also we don’t know if he can even get back to his shooting form having really not played over the course of a year or so. But on the flipside, if no one is worth it and you don’t want a starup project, you might as well stick with Spike. Either way this offseason has been crazy interesting.

          • GTFOmycourt

            Good points. If somebody really good comes around it might make sense to let Spike go…

  • Mattski

    Wow, Caris still not well.

    • AA7596

      He had surgery 2 1/2 weeks ago

  • Wayman Britt

    The longer University of Detroit takes in hiring a head coach, it seems the longer the odds are against Bacari Alexander getting that job. Not sure why UofD wouldn’t want BA, but sure is taking longer than I thought.

  • bobohle

    Caris may end up having to go the undrafted free agent route after he reaches the anticipated recovery goal of mid summer.

  • gobluemd16

    Think Beilein slipped up at the 4:25 mark in the first video. “… they are bringing me new ideas like Bacari and Vall did.” Bacari may be going to Detroit after all.

  • Chillax

    Maybe I missed it but is this the first we know where the “lower leg” injury is actually in his heel? Can’t believe he just got surgery. I guess they were waiting to see if it would heal on it’s own. If he had bit the bullet and gotten the surgery early in the season and shut it down he might have been healthy for the NBA combine. I hope he doesn’t push himself and re-injure it. I really hope he goes first round but it’s looking less and less likely

    • Champswest

      The doctor who performed the surgery, said that UM was smart to wait. It was exactly what he would have recommended.

      • Chillax

        Doctors Orders!

  • Champswest

    Beilein sounds pretty optimistic about the 2017 class. I hope that he is basing that on solid feedback or actual facts and not just hope.