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Meet all 17 members of Michigan basketball team, how they got here, expected roles for 2020 season

Juwan Howard tips off second season as Michigan’s head coach

Franz Wagner #21 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts after scoring in the second half against the Michigan Wolverines at Welsh-Ryan Arena on February 12, 2020 in Evanston, Illinois.
Franz Wagner #21 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts after scoring in the second half against the Michigan Wolverines at Welsh-Ryan Arena on February 12, 2020 in Evanston, Illinois. (2020 Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The Michigan basketball team is set to tip off the 2020 season Wednesday at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.

Even though the season was pushed back to the end of November, it feels like college basketball snuck up on us this year. Maybe it’s because Big Ten football is still only halfway through its regular season, or just everything that’s going on in the world with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s the full Michigan basketball schedule for the 2020-2021 season.

But Juwan Howard has a team worth paying attention to in his second year as the head coach of the Wolverines.

Here’s a look at the full roster, which includes 17 players.

Isaiah Livers

  • How he got here: Returning starter
  • Last season: 12.9 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.1 APG, 40.2 3P%, 44.7 FG%, 95.7 FT%
  • Role: Guaranteed starter
Isaiah Livers #2 of the Michigan Wolverines looks to the sidelines during the first half of the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Crisler Center on January 25, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Illinois defeated Michigan 64-62. (2020 Leon Halip)

Livers was expected to have a breakout season in 2019-2020 after leading scorers Ignas Brazdeikis, Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews moved on to the NBA. He looked to be on his way early in the season, but injuries eventually derailed a fine junior year.

He averaged 12.9 points per game, but his efficiency from the field and beyond the arc dropped below his sophomore year percentages, and he didn’t take major leaps in rebounding or passing.

Michigan was a much better team with Livers on the court, even vaulting into the top five nationally after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in November. If Livers can stay healthy, he’ll be one of the team’s top two options on offense, and an important presence on defense and the boards.

Franz Wagner

  • How he got here: Returning starter
  • Last season: 11.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1 APG, 31.1 3P%, 45.2 FG%, 83.3 FT%
  • Role: Guaranteed starter

A wrist injury last in the preseason set Wagner back a few weeks, and even when he returned to game action, there was some rust to shake off.

But by the time 2020 rolled around, Wagner was consistently Michigan’s best overall player, contributing inside and out on offense, on the glass and defensively. Wagner has elite length and improving athleticism that allowed him to become a versatile defender in the second half last season.

Despite a slow start, especially from 3-point range, Wagner is a reliable scorer and shooter. He’s probably the preseason favorite to lead Michigan in scoring for 2020-2021, though Livers could also be a candidate.

What you won’t find in the stat sheet is the edge Wagner brings to the Wolverines -- much like his brother did three years ago. He’s a fierce competitor and a winner, and now that he’s sprouted up to 6-foot-9, Wagner could be one of the best players in the Big Ten.

Eli Brooks

  • How he got here: Returning starter
  • Last season: 10.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2 APG, 36.4 3P%, 41 FG%, 72.9 FT%
  • Role: Likely starter

Brooks quietly averaged in double figures as a scorer last season, making nearly two 3-point attempts per game. As a senior who has starting experience on a young team, he’s a lock to begin the season in the starting lineup.

Whether he remains there for the entirety of 2020-2021 depends on his shooting. If Brooks can improve his 41% field goal percentage and be a little more efficient, he’ll be a very solid two-way player.

A lack of elite athleticism and size limit his defense and rebounding, but Brooks has heart and plays hard -- even slowing down Michigan State star Cassius Winston at the Crisler Center last year.

Brooks made a massive leap from 12.9 minutes per game to 32 minutes per game last year, and he hit some very big shots for the Wolverines. Not many people will talk about him heading into the season, but he’s a valuable piece of the rotation.

Austin Davis

  • How he got here: Returning contributor
  • Last season: 4.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.1 APG, 69.3 FG%, 54.2 FT%
  • Role: Likely starter

It didn’t feel like Davis would ever really get his chance at Michigan until about midway through the 2019-2020 season. Suddenly, with Jon Teske struggling, he became Michigan’s most reliable option at center.

Davis isn’t a threat from anywhere but underneath the basket, and he’s vulnerable to foul trouble on defense. But he has a high motor and converts at a high rate when he gets the ball down low. Sometimes that’s enough to make for a useful college player.

Davis will likely be the starter Wednesday, but there’s a true freshman knocking on the door for major minutes, too.

Brandon Johns Jr.

  • How he got here: Returning contributor
  • Last season: 6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 0.4 APG, 49.2 FG%, 34.5 3P%, 64.2 FT%
  • Role: Sixth/seventh man

There’s a good chance Johns will be the first player off the bench most nights for Michigan because he can fill in at multiple positions.

His size, athleticism and versatility is tailor made for today’s college game, but so far, Johns has been more enticing talent than actual production. He has outbursts that flash his tantalizing potential, but his first 58 college games have yielded just 3.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.

Johns is a streaky 3-point shooter who can hit four in a row and then clank the next two off the side of the backboard. On the glass, nobody on Michigan’s roster can get up higher or throw it down harder.

In a best-case scenario, Johns could probably be a star, but it’s unclear if he has that Wagner-esque killer instinct to really go get his shot.

By the end of the season, Johns could be one of Michigan’s leading scorers and rebounders, or he could be completely lost in the shuffle of a deep wing rotation. Nobody on the roster has a wider range of possible outcomes.

Adrien Nunez

  • How he got here: Returning contributor
  • Last season: 2 PPG, 0.1 RPG, 0.1 APG, 25.6 3P%, 30.8 FG%, 50 FT%
  • Role: Likely contributor

Nunez was a late addition to the 2018 recruiting class because of his sharpshooting ability, but so far, Michigan fans haven’t really seen that. He’s making about one in every five attempts so far in his career, though there are times when that elite potential shines through.

Howard called on Nunez to start four games last season, but he only ended up averaging 7.6 minutes in 22 games. He’s got great size at 6-foot-6 and can always get off his shot, but he needs to be up around 40% at least, since he doesn’t contribute in many other ways.

There’ll be time early in the season for Nunez to cement himself in the rotation. If he struggles, the freshmen could pass him.

Mike Smith

  • How he got here: Transfer from Columbia
  • Last season: 22.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 4.5 APG, 33.9 3P%, 43.1 FG%, 81.3 FT%
  • Role: Likely starter
Mike Smith #21 of the Columbia Lions is defended by Rasheem Dunn #3 of the St. John's Red Storm at Carnesecca Arena on November 20, 2019 in New York City. (2019 Getty Images)

Howard brought in Smith from Columbia to help Michigan fill the void left by Xavier Simpson’s graduation.

Smith was a prolific scorer in four seasons at Columbia, averaging 18 points per game in 92 games. He’s a solid passer -- 4.3 career assist average. The question is whether he can be more of an efficient offensive player and less of a volume scorer with better talent around him.

Going from the Ivy League to the Big Ten, Smith will be tested offensively. He’s 5-foot-11, so most defenders will have a size advantage. He’s also learning a new offense and working with an entirely new cast of teammates after four seasons with Columbia.

There’s no denying Smith’s talent as a scorer, and he’ll probably open the season as the starting point guard. How he fits into this roster equation long-term remains to be seen.

Chaundee Brown

  • How he got here: Transfer from Wake Forest
  • Last season: 12.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 32.2 3P%, 45.6 FG%, 83.1 FT%
  • Role: sixth/seventh man
Chaundee Brown #23 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the first half during their game against the Duke Blue Devils at LJVM Coliseum Complex on February 25, 2020 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (2020 Getty Images)

An elite recruit out of high school and day one starter at Wake Forest, Brown was remarkably consistent throughout his three seasons in Winston-Salem.

Brown posted career highs in points, rebounds and assists a year ago while improving his field goal percentage by 4.8%. He’s not elite from beyond the arc, but like many of the players on Michigan’s roster, opponents will have to respect him out there.

There’s a chance Brown thrives on a more talented roster and forces his way into the starting lineup. His size and slashing ability could prove more valuable than Brooks’ superior shot. Brown is also a willing and gifted defensive player.

He won’t get the volume of shots per game as he did at Wake Forest, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brown have his best college season with better players around him and more on the line.

Hunter Dickinson

  • How he got here: 2020 recruiting class
  • Recruiting ranking: Four-star recruit, No. 42 overall, No. 9 center, No. 2 in Maryland
  • Role: Starting/backup center

Anyone who watched a DeMantha Catholic basketball game on national television probably came away thinking Dickinson was the best player on the court.

The 7-foot-1 center is incredibly gifted around the rim and can also knock down a jump shot. He was coveted by basketball blue bloods such as Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Louisville because he has a complete game and is ready to contribute right away.

Dickinson is definitely Michigan’s most talented center. Will he take over the starting job from day one? That remains to be seen. But he’ll get his share of minutes, and if he transitions easily to the college level, his ceiling is stardom.

Zeb Jackson

  • How he got here: 2020 recruiting class
  • Recruiting ranking: Four-star recruit, No. 88 overall, No. 11 shooting guard, No. 9 in Ohio
  • Role: Reserve guard

Jackson has been committed to Michigan since Oct. 23, 2018 -- the John Beilein era. He never wavered in his pledge to the Wolverines, and now fans are excited to see what he can do now that he’s finally at the college level.

Jackson is a safe bet to score points at the college level because he can get to the rim or pull up from deep. His defense and understanding of Howard’s schemes will dictate how much he plays as a true freshman.

Jackson had scholarship offers from Michigan State, Ohio State, Virginia, Wisconsin and others. There’s no question he has the talent to contribute, but it’s anyone’s guess how soon that will be.

Terrance Williams

  • How he got here: 2020 recruiting class
  • Recruiting ranking: Four-star recruit, No. 93 overall, No. 14 power forward, No. 1 in Washington, D.C.
  • Role: Wing contributor

Williams is the opposite of a “raw” player who needs time to develop into a college contributor. His game feels like it could translate quickly, so he should see the court early in his Michigan career.

Williams is a smart player who’s pretty good at everything -- shooting, ball handling, rebounding and defense. At 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, he’ll be similar to Livers and Johns in that he could match up with combo guards or bigger forwards if needed.

After de-committing from Georgetown due to all the uncertainty surrounding that program at the time, Williams chose Michigan over the likes of Virginia, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and UCLA. It will be fascinating to see what kind of role he carves out for himself this season.

Jace Howard

  • How he got here: 2020 recruiting class
  • Recruiting ranking: Three-star recruit, No. 378 overall, No. 69 small forward, No. 30 in Florida
  • Role: Deeper rotation

It’s likely the 11 players above will be ahead of Jace Howard in the rotation this year, so he might be more of a late-in-blowouts or emergency foul trouble sort of option as a true freshman.

Don’t forget about the coach’s son long-term, though. Jace is 6-foot-8 with some shooting touch and scoring ability. As Juwan’s son, he’s been around the game his entire life. With offers from Dayton and San Diego State -- two very strong basketball schools -- it’s not like Jace is only at Michigan because his father leads the program.

Brandon Wade

  • How he got here: Walk-on transfer from Duquesne
  • Last season: 1 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 0.8 APG, 11.5 3P%, 19.5 FG%, 69.2 FT%
  • Role: Deeper rotation

Wade was a star at Ann Arbor Skyline before heading to Duquesne on scholarship for his first college season. After his freshman year, he decided to return home and join Michigan as a preferred walk-on.

Wade didn’t get much playing time as a true freshman, averaging 9.2 minutes in 27 games. That was a big change for him after scoring 23.3 points and averaging 7.2 assist per game as a senior in high school.

He’s not likely to have a major role this season, but Wade plays point guard -- Michigan’s thinnest position -- and was an elite scorer in high school -- definitely enough to keep an eye on.

Jaron Faulds

  • How he got here: Walk-on transfer from Columbia
  • Last season: 0.8 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 50 FG%, 100 FT%
  • Role: Deeper rotation

Faulds actually got into five games for Michigan last season after sitting out 2018-2019 due to transfer rules. He came over from Columbia, where he averaged 4.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1 block per game as a freshman in 2017-2018.

Listed at 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, Faulds has the size to play Big Ten basketball. Michigan isn’t particularly deep behind Davis and Dickinson, but Faulds isn’t really a center, either.

As a former three-star recruit and the No. 322 player in the 2017 class, Faulds is the type of walk-on who could definitely earn some playing time, but that probably isn’t at the top of Howard’s preseason plans.

Rico Ozuna-Harrison

  • How he got here: Walk-on
  • Last season: 2 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound in 8 minutes
  • Role: Bench mob

If history holds true, Ozuna-Harrison will take one shot this season. After missing from beyond the arc in each of his first two years, he connected on his only shot attempt last year, while also dishing out a pair of assists.

Ozuna-Harrison is a pre-med student and drops some elite celebrations on the bench, but in terms of playing time during games, he’s only gotten 14 minutes in three seasons.

CJ Baird

  • How he got here: Walk-on
  • Last season: 8 points, 2 rebounds in 29 minutes
  • Role: Bench mob

C.J. Baird always hits a three. It’s a given. Whether he’s coming into a blowout against a mid-major at Crisler or putting a dagger in the heart of Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament, Baird is usually good for at least one bullseye when he enters the game.

Like Ozuna-Harrison, Baird is a walk-on who probably won’t see the court much -- especially with the shortened non-conference schedule. But it’s always a highlight when he comes in with Michigan up 30 points and makes it 33.

Luke Wilson

  • How he got here: Walk-on
  • Last season: 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist in 11 minutes
  • Role: Bench mob

After going 0-4 from the floor in his first two seasons, Wilson nailed a 3-pointer to get in the stat book last year.

The walk-on guard plays a similar role to Ozuna-Harrison and Baird, though he’s got some ground to make up if he wants to catch the latter in career scoring.

About the Author:

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.