Over the weekend, Michigan extended a pair of offers to two prospects: Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman (now a commitment) and Aubrey Dawkins. Neither prospect is ranked on the 247Composite and neither received major attention, but still, both received offers from Michigan. There's little doubt that both are replacement options for Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas, who have both opted to enter the 2014 NBA Draft. With John Beilein's recent success with late additions and the growing interest around both prospects, both have a great deal of potential to offer Michigan.
Despite this, there are some unsettled thoughts for a variety of reasons on both of these offers. Some felt that these weren't the best two prospects available. Others felt that there were better transfer options available to add to the roster. Finally, there is a group that believes Michigan should not have been targeting two wing players at all and instead, offered a wing and a big man.
It's important to note that any late addition with unimpressive ratings almost always gets mixed reactions from the fanbase. Typically, if they're available late in the process, there is a reason. They could simply have not been noticed by coaching staffs, they could have developed late, or they could be considered a project. It all depends on that specific prospect. Along with this, it's important to note Michigan's scholarship situation. Before this weekend, Michigan was 2 under the scholarship count. With the commitment of Abdur-Rahkman, Michigan is now just 1 scholarship under the limit. With 2 openings, there was some flexibility, especially with the question marks of Hatch and McGary still there.
This flexibility is one of the main things that should reject any notion that these are not the best prospects out there. This coaching staff has more than proven itself. Just 2 years ago, Beilein decided to take Spike Albrecht in the 2012 class and many thought it made no sense because Michigan could still get Amedeo Della Valle. Today, it's hard to argue with Beilein. Della Valle had very mixed results in Columbus and has already left the program. Spike has been a quality backup and whether people agree or not, you can make a good case that he was the best backup point guard in the Big Ten last year. Beilein has shown that he can evaluate and develop talent. If the coaches offer a prospect, it's because he is good enough to play and be productive at Michigan.
Some also feel that Michigan should have targeted transfer players. Transfers are an interesting animal because they have a lot of potential. A player walks in, maybe sits out a year, and then turns into a star player. Terran Petteway at Nebraska is an example of this. The problem is that, more often than not, the player comes in and does very little. Evan Smotrycz at Maryland seemed like a slam dunk for the Terps at the time, but hasn't really produced as many Maryland fans hoped.
A transfer may appear like more of a "known" quantity than a recruit, but that's not always necessarily true. There were certainly some good options available this year, such as Eron Harris from West Virginia, but a coaching staff has to take into account that a guy like Harris probably will not play next year. This means you aren't getting 2014-15 Harris, but you're getting 2015-16 Harris. This is important because you are no loner comparing a transfer to a recruit, but you're comparing a transfer to what a recruit would be as a sophomore. Most players make their biggest strides between leaving high school and their sophomore year. Look at Caris LeVert. As a recruit, many thought he would just be depth for the team. As a sophomore, you could make a good case he was Michigan's second biggest contributor and looks to be Michigan's star player as a junior. It's hard to see a transfer matching that. Transfer can certainly work, but they aren't always as great as they may seem on their face.
The final issue that many see is with Michigan failing to target a big. With Jon Horford's transfer and Mitch McGary potentially jumping to the NBA, it seems like the frontcourt is a red flag. However, this argument is flawed for a few reasons. First, Mitch McGary has not left yet. If he does declare for the NBA Draft, his scholarship will then be available and Michigan can then go for a big man.
Along with McGary's unknown NBA status, if Michigan was going after a big man with McGary on the roster, it's hard to see the scholarship being used in a very productive way over the future and especially in the next two years. Think about it this way, if Michigan added a 2014 big man with McGary still on the roster, here is how the depth chart would likely look upfront next year: McGary, Donnal, Bielfeldt, Doyle, 2014 Recruit. Along with that, Michigan has Kameron Chatman and Zak Irvin who could both play at the 4 for intervals. If Michigan uses a big lineup, maybe that depth matters, but odds are that at least 1-2 big men are going to be receiving next to no minutes, especially next season. Depth is fine, but having guys on the roster to just be there isn't the best strategy.
What makes the depth a negative for Michigan is that a big man addition would likely have a pretty low rating. Yes, both of Michigan's weekend offers had lower ratings, but the drop-off for big men is much steeper than it is for guards. A 3* guard turning into a quality player isn't really that rare, but a 3* big man turning into a quality player usually takes more time and is less common Essentially, you're looking to add a big man that has a lower ceiling and will sit on the bench instead of a wing player that has a higher ceiling at a position where guys have been rotating out the last few years.
Overall, fans are going to have mixed feelings about these offers, at least until next fall. However, it's important to remember the scholarship scenario, the prospect of recruits, and some of the negatives related to other scenarios. These two offers are not going to set the world on fire, but over time, they should provide Michigan with valuable depth and the potential for good talent into the future.