Let's be honest. The offseason hasn't been all that kind to the Wolverines so far. Since falling to Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament, the program has seen two assistant coaches leave for head coaching positions, three underclassmen transfer, a missed recruitment of Columbia transfer Grant Mullins, drama surrounding the transfer of senior Spike Albrecht, and Spike's eventual transfer to Purdue.
Not kind at all.
For the most part it's been hit after hit, blow after blow, and frustration across the board. Michigan's team actually looks decent heading into next season--Michigan is actually returning five starters--but the departures on the staff and roster have certainly left many fans scracthing their heads.
This confusion and frustration was exacerbated even further this week when rising junior forward Kameron Chatman opted to transfer from the program. The decision seemed to come out of left field after head coach John Beilein had implied that the offseason departures were wrapped up. Nonetheless, Chatman had positive things to say about his experience at Michigan as he headed for the door.
"I honestly don't think I could have had a more quality life experience than I did in Ann Arbor," said Chatman. "I am incredibly grateful for my two years at Michigan. I would like to thank Coach Beilein and his entire staff for taking a chance on a small town kid out of Portland. I know my experience has inspired others as I will take all of my lessons learned to continue my pursuit of becoming the best man and player I can. Go Blue!"
Realistically speaking, Chatman wasn't a major contributor for Michigan. Sure, he played in 60 total games during his career in Ann Arbor, but he only averaged 11.5 minutes, 3.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.6 assists per game. Even this year, his season highs were 22 minutes against Northern Michigan and 10 points against Delaware State. In other words, he was a bench contributor, at best, over his career.
However, Chatman's departure is still a big hit. Not because he was set for some type of All-Big Ten season, but because he was an experienced player who had held his own for durations off the bench. Now, thanks to this onslaught of transfers, the Wolverines suddenly have some unexpected and significant bench gaps, especially at the wing, where Chatman could have played a role next year.
To put this in perspective, simply consider that heading into next season, Michigan's wing group is composed of Zak Irvin, Duncan Robinson, Ibi Watson, DJ Wilson, and several walk-ons. In short, that's a proven player in Irvin, an up and down starter in Robinson, a true freshman, an unproven redshirt sophomore, and walk-ons.
Not exactly reassuring.
The group should be fine as long as Watson and Wilson can be serviceable. After all, Irvin and Robinson both averaged over 28 minutes a game last season, which doesn't put a ton of pressure on the bench to get on the floor. However, that depth is razor thin and is almost entirely dependent on a three-star freshman and a player in Wilson who hasn't even come close to proving himself.
Simply put, one injury and that group is toast.
Michigan still has some options to improve this position group. The team still seems interested in adding a transfer and is reportedly hosting a visit from a late 2016 prospect. However, with the loss of Chatman, there's going to be even more pressure on Beilein and his new assistant coaches to find answers on the wing.
There are still a lot of things to be hopeful about the Wolverines, but it could be a long summer for fans based on how things have gone the last few months.