When Aubrey Dawkins enrolled at Michigan he wasn't a highly heralded recruit that gained a lot of national attention. Of course that makes sense as the three star guard barely made it into 247Sports top 100 rankings for shooting guards (79th) and was ranked as the 323rd best recruit in his class. That, mixed with an offer sheet that had Dayton and Rhode Island as the next two biggest schools in contention, and you can see why not many people really noticed Dawkins as he arrived in Ann Arbor.
Thanks to some serious depth issues that hit Michigan hard last season (as well as all of the injuries), Dawkins was thrust into a starting role and saw some serious playing time in his first year with the Wolverines. While the freshman had only played more than 20 minutes once in the first 16 games, he would go on to start 13 of the last 14 games and play in at least 30 minutes in all but three of the games. As the season went on Dawkins became a key player for Michigan, improving from beyond the arc and contributing on the offensive side of the ball. While Dawkins didn't garner much attention early on in the year, his 43.8% three point shooting rate and increasing points per game gave Michigan a player they hoped could play a critical role heading forward.
Dawkins turned his first season into a starting role, but ended up heading back to the bench before mid-December as he didn't start a game after an early season loss to SMU. Even more problematic was the guard's playing time continued to decline as the season went on. While his averages per 40 minutes actually increased a bit, his overall numbers sank and he started to fall out of the rotation. This makes sense to some extent, though, especially with a healthier Derrick Walton and an emerging Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. While the hope was that Dawkins could build off of a strong debut in Ann Arbor, his sophomore season made it appear that his first year was mainly the end result of injuries creating opportunities instead.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Dawkins announced that he won't be returning next season as he heads south to play his final two seasons for Central Florida. While it's obvious Michigan was hoping this wouldn't be the case, the news isn't all bad for the Wolverines as they head into the 2016-17 season. The biggest loss with Dawkins will be his three point shooting, as he managed to hit on over 44% of his attempts this past season. Dawkins would have also provided an experienced option at the guard position, something beneficial with Caris LeVert graduating. On the flip side, though, the departure of Dawkins and Albrecht does free up a scholarship for John Beilein to possibly lure in some new talent and Michigan will return guys like Zak Irvin, Derrick Walton Jr., Duncan Robinson and Kameron Chatman next season as well.
While Michigan has had a decent number of transfers over the last several seasons, one can hardly blame Dawkins here when you consider his reasoning for the move to Central Florida dealt with him wanting to play for his dad, who is now currently the coach for Central Florida.
"This was not an easy decision, however, the chance to play for my father is a special opportunity for me and my family," mentioned Dawkins.
It would probably be easy to spin this news as a way to attack Beilein, especially with Dawkins being the third Michigan player to transfer after this past season. The reality, though, is that Dawkins simply decided he wanted to play with his father and one can hardly blame him for that. While Michigan will lose a valuable three point specialist, they still have Duncan Robinson to carry the load from beyond the arc. And while the loss of Dawkins would have been an easier pill to swallow if the team would be returning LeVert, guys like Zak Irvin, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Kameron Chatman should be able to step up and carry the load. That's before considering incoming four-star recruit Xavier Simpson, a 2016 guard currently committed to Michigan, and Ibi Watson, both of which should provide plenty of fresh talent to help fill the void.
When everything is said and done the Wolverines should ultimately be fine, even if Beilein and fans would have preferred for the guard to stick around for another couple of years.