In the months leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the 'BTPowerhouse 25,' which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Today's edition will take a brief look at Zak Irvin of Michigan, who came in at No. 11 in the rankings. The Wolverines will need the senior wing to lead their scoring attack and display senior leadership should Michigan look to make an NCAA Tournament run.
'BTPowerhouse 25' - #11 Zak Irvin:
- Eligibility: Senior
- Career Totals: 104 games, 2875 minutes, 1115 points, 359 rebounds, 169 assists
- 2015-’16 Averages: 32.8 min, 11.8 pts, 4.5 rebs, 3.1 asts, 0.0 blks, 0.8 stls
- Positional Role: Guard/Forward
Zak Irvin has had a great impact on the Wolverines for the past three seasons. After a developmental freshman season, Irvin has been a volume scorer of the Wolverines. He offensive abilities have never come into question, however there has always been a feeling that Irvin has not quite lived up to the hype.
Irvin is considered one of the best three point shooters in the Big Ten. As a freshman, his role of the bench was almost exclusively to spark the offensive by attempting a volume of three’s off of a pass. Since then, Irvin has grown as a player and has developed into less of a one dimensional option.
His ball handling has developed, allowing him to create his own shots. His statistics suggest a down shooting season last year, but the personnel Michigan ran out suggests a lessened load offensively. Irvin was not asked to shoot as much as he was in past season due to Duncan Robinson’s presence on the roster. The increased shooting loads of Aubrey Dawkins, Derrick Walton Jr and Duncan Robinson allowed Irvin to boost his assist totals and not carry the scoring attack alone.
Areas of Improvement
Irvin has increased his turnovers per game in each of his last three seasons. In 2015-16, Irvin coughed the ball up 1.9 times per game. The charity stripe has also not been kind to Irvin during his tenure with the Wolverines. A career low 66 percent free throw percentage was the by product of a shaky shooting season for Irvin.
Luckily for Irvin, he is not shooting free throws in the same volume as he is threes. What that does mean is he is not efficient enough down low. Irvin is a wing player who has been used as a floor spacing power forward at times. Head coach John Beilein’s offense utilizes players athleticism and creates a lot space. Unfortunately that means Irvin has been asked to go inside at times, a task he has struggled with.
Nagging injuries have not helped Irvin over his career. Missing the majority of the off-season is likely the reason for Irvin’s down numbers. The large roster turnover of the Wolverines should help Irvin’s back problem as the dead weight has been trimmed and he will no longer need to carry the offense.
In all seriousness Irvin, like Walton Jr, is now a veteran in Michigan’s rotation. After a season filled with transfers, Irvin’s senior season will be a fresh start for the program. Irvin will be called upon to progress the development of the incoming freshman as well as start on the wing and be a play maker.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings:
- #26-31 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #24 - Josh Langford (Michigan State)
- #24 - Kam Williams (Ohio State)
- #23 - Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (Michigan)
- #22 - Jalen Coleman-Lands (Illinois)
- #21 - Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State)
- #20 - Jae’Sean Tate (Ohio State)
- #19 - James Blackmon (Indiana)
- #18 - Eron Harris (Michigan State)
- #17 - Corey Sanders (Rutgers)
- #16 - Derrick Walton, Jr. (Michigan)
- #15 - Isaac Haas (Purdue)
- #14 - JaQuan Lyle (Ohio State)
- #13 - Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern)
- #12 - Miles Bridges (Michigan State)
- #11 - Zak Irvin (Michigan)
- #10 - to be continued ...