In the months leading up to the 2020-’21 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 Isaiah Livers of the Michigan Wolverines, who ended up tied at No. 7 in our preseason player rankings. The Wolverines enter Juwan Howard’s second season hoping to make progress on last year’s solid start. Livers was one of the team’s best players, despite being injured for much of the season. Fans are hoping a healthy Livers can elevate the team even further this season.
'BTPowerhouse 25' - No. 7 Isaiah Livers:
- Eligibility: Senior
- Career Totals: 96 games, 2,058 minutes, 686 points, 315 rebounds, 64 assists
- 2019-’20 Averages: 31.5 min, 12.9 pts, 4.0 rebs, 1.1 asts, 0.7 blks, 0.4 stls
- Positional Role: Small Forward
Nobody was quite sure what to expect in Howard’s first season in Ann Arbor. However, the early results were encouraging. Michigan finished the season 19-12 overall and ranked 16th nationally on KenPom. The Wolverines were relevant nationally and were in position to do some damage in March before the world was flipped upside down. Afterward, Livers decided to return to campus and forego his professional options. Fans are hoping he can take the next step this season.
If there’s one part of Livers’ game that stands out, it’s his impressive three-point shooting. He his 40.2 percent of his looks from deep last season, including an impressive 39.6 percent against “Tier A” opponents. More simply stated, Livers showed up in Michigan’s biggest games.
But Livers’ shooting didn’t stop there. He was efficient across the board, finishing with a 117.7 offensive rating in league play (7th in the Big Ten) and was perfect from the free throw line during conference play. Livers also avoided turnovers, finishing with the lowest turnover rate during league play.
-Areas for Improvement
Despite an impressive and diverse skill set, Livers does have a few issues. To start, he’s really not that great with the ball in his hands. He’s fantastic off the ball and on the perimeter, but he’s not a player who’s going to consistently create shots and drive the lane. He’s often depended on teammates like Zavier Simpson to create opportunities for him. And with Simpson now gone, he’s going to have to improve in this area if he and Michigan are going to achieve their lofty goals.
Additionally, Livers could also improve his rebounding numbers. And while Michigan isn’t necessarily a team who likes to crash the boards, some modest improvement here would be nice. He has the size and strength to be a lot better on the glass. The same can be said for his passing. Finally, Livers has also struggled with some injuries over the last few years. Fans will hope he can avoid those this season.
It’s hyperbolic to claim one player will determine a team’s season, but it feels that way with Livers and Michigan. If the Wolverines are going to be relevant nationally, the team’s almost certainly going to need Livers to be a force offensively. The team has other play makers, but nobody with a skill set like this. He needs to stretch defenses and find ways to create more off the bounce this season. If not, Michigan’s going to have limited options.
Fortunately, Livers looks primed for a big season. Expect him to remain one of the best shooters in the conference and be in contention for All-Big Ten first team status if things go well.
'BTPowerhouse 25' Rankings:
- #27-28 - Players That Just Missed The Cut
- #25 - Adam Miller (Illinois)
- #25 - Miller Kopp (Northwestern)
- #22 - Ron Harper (Rutgers)
- #22 - Eric Hunter (Purdue)
- #22 - CJ Fredrick (Iowa)
- #21 - Rob Phinisee (Indiana)
- #20 - Khristian Lander (Indiana)
- #19 - Seth Towns (Ohio State)
- #17 - Nate Reuvers (Wisconsin)
- #17 - Mark “Rocket” Watts (Michigan State)
- #16 - Micah Potter (Wisconsin)
- #15 - Marcus Carr (Minnesota)
- #14 - Joey Hauser (Michigan State)
- #13 - Jordan Bohannon (Iowa)
- #12 - Geo Baker (Rutgers)
- #11 - D’Mitrik Trice (Wisconsin)
- #10 - Aaron Wiggins (Maryland)
- #9 - Aaron Henry (Michigan State)
- #7 - Trevion Williams (Purdue)
- #7 - Isaiah Livers (Michigan)
- #6 - To be continued . . .