A pair of accomplished transfers provide the University of Michigan with a wealth of experience on an already seasoned roster.
Guards Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown Jr. will debut for the Wolverines against Bowling Green in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Wednesday.
A grad transfer from Columbia, Smith led the Ivy League and ranked sixth nationally last season in scoring at 22.8 points per game. Smith, who also averaged 4.5 assists, is expected to take over point guard duties from Zavier Simpson, who completed his eligibility last season.
Brown, a Wake Forest transfer who started 74 games the past three seasons, averaged 12.1 points and 6.5 rebounds last season.
“He’s only been here a short amount of time and his teammates are already looking forward to playing with him,” coach Juwan Howard said of Brown. “He’s got a chance to be pretty special. He’s played three years in the ACC, a very competitive Power 5 conference. Shooting is one of his strengths but his level of competitiveness, that would be his biggest strength.”
Plenty of other familiar faces dot the roster for Michigan, ranked 25th entering the season after a 19-12 record last season. Forward Isaiah Livers and combo guard Franz Wagner could compete for All-Big Ten honors.
Livers, a senior, missed 10 games last season due to groin and ankle injuries. When healthy, he was productive, tying for the team lead at 12.9 points per game while making 40.2 percent of his 3-pointers.
Wagner made the conference’s All-Freshman Team by averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds.
“He doesn’t play like a typical sophomore,” Howard said. “He’s like a seasoned vet. Franz is a gym rat. He’s always here before practice and after practice, getting up shots.”
Big men Austin Davis and Brandon Johns Jr. were rotation players last season as well. The Wolverines’ backcourt has a returning starter in Eli Brooks, who averaged 10.6 points and ranked second on the team in total assists.
“We have experience on all levels, at all positions,” Howard said.
Bowling Green isn’t lacking for experience, either. The Falcons, who finished 21-10, are led by senior guard Justin Turner. He averaged 19.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists as a junior while being named to the All-Mid-American Conference First Team for the second time.
Turner went through the NBA draft process before returning to Bowling Green prior to last season. He decided in April to come back for his final year.
“It’s been nothing but love since I decided to come back,” he said to the team’s website. “When I decided to come back, there was always one goal in mind — I want to win the championship.”
Swingmen Daeqwon Plowden (12.7 points, 8.2 rebounds) and Trey Diggs (7.3 points) and guard Caleb Fields (6.8 points) are also back after ranking among the team’s top-five scorers last season.
“I’m impressed with how talented we are,” Turner said.
This will be the first meeting between the schools since 2010.
–Field Level Media