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Posted on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 10:22 a.m.

How the departure of Evan Smotrycz, Carlton Brundidge and Colton Christian alters the Michigan basketball team

By Nick Baumgardner

The Michigan basketball program's offseason is underway.

And it got off to a rather loud start.

Michigan coach John Beilein announced the departures of three players, Evan Smotrycz, Carlton Brundidge and Colton Christian, Wednesday, a trio of moves that could have quite a ripple effect with regard to the program's future.

Here's a look at how:


Evan Smotrycz, left, was Michigan's leading 3-point shooter last season at 43.5 percent.

Associated Press

Evan Smotrycz

Of the three players exiting, Smotrycz's departure isn't just the most surprising, but also comes with the highest impact.

The 6-foot-9 forward started 69 games in two years at Michigan, and was a key cog in Beilein's offense, especially when his 3-point shot was falling.

A starter for portions of both his freshman and sophomore year, Smotrycz will leave Michigan with 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds to make up for next season. But more than that, he'll significantly decrease the Wolverines' ability to put five shooters on the floor while staying relatively big in the process.

Smotrycz led all Michigan regulars last season in 3-point shooting at 43.5 percent, and had the ability to hit deep shots and mid-range shots, and could also put the ball on the floor at times if need be.

Had he returned for his junior season, he likely would have been to player to beat at power forward.

He wasn't without his faults, though, as Smotrycz struggled to remain consistent against Big Ten competition in both of his seasons in Ann Arbor

His departure unclogs a bit of the jam in Michigan's front-court, as the Wolverines will now have Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford, Max Bielfeldt and Blake McLimans to rotate up front.

Of all those players, only Smotrycz was a consistent threat to knock down deep jump shots.

And, for that, he'll big leave pretty big void.


Carlton Brundidge drives drives against Alabama A&M guard Demarquelle Tabb. It was one of 15 games Brundidge appeared in this season.

Angela J. Cesere |

Carlton Brundidge

Brundidge entered Michigan will plenty of acclaim. In fact, he was a more highly-touted prospect than classmate Trey Burke. Brundidge was a four-star player, per, while Burke gained just three stars.

It didn't pan out during his first season, though, as he barely saw any time on the floor.

Brundidge played in just 15 games this season, almost exclusively in mop-up time. He sporadically saw time as a backup point guard, but only logged 44 minutes the entire year, and scored just six points.

Production-wise, Michigan doesn't take much of a hit here. Long-term, though, seems to be a different story.

Should Burke remain in school, the Wolverines still very much need an established backup point guard. If Burke opts to depart early for the NBA draft, then the Wolverines obviously need all the help they can get in the backcourt.

It would have been interesting to see how another full summer of college conditioning and familiarity with Beilein's system would have benefited Brundidge.

But now, we'll never know.


Colton Christian, left, defends Michigan State guard Keith Appling.

Associated Press

Colton Christian

Christian was a role player, at best, during his time in Ann Arbor.

He did come in handy a few times late this past season, when Beilein opted to use him and his 6-foot-6 frame to play the center position during moments when Smotrycz and Morgan were in foul trouble.

It didn't necessarily show on the stat sheet, but Christian more than held his own against Northwestern and Illinois in that situation -- moving his way up the rotation.

In total, Christian appeared in 19 games, logging 51 minutes and seven points. And he was on scholarship, so more than anything moving forward, his departure will create room in future classes.

Numbers game

While no one generally likes to see attrition within their program, the departure of Smotrycz, Brundidge and Christian does free up some space for Beilein and his staff to work with on the recruiting trail.

Prior to the trio's exit, Michigan did not have an available scholarship for the 2012-13 season.

It does now.

Adding to the number importance is Burke's situation. Should the co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year opt for the NBA, then Michigan will have to go all in for a point guard during the spring signing period.

Presently, Michigan is reportedly involved in the recruitment of Findlay Prep (Nev.) point guard Amedeo Della Valle, an Italian-born prospect who is listed at 6-foot-3 by rates Della Valle as a three-star prospect. reports Della Valle's schools of interest as Michigan, Arizona, Texas A&M, Gonzaga and Ohio State.

Additionally, reports surfaced earlier in the week about the situation regarding former Central Michigan guard Trey Zeigler, a former four-star prospect and Michigan recruit out of Mount Pleasant High School.

Zeigler is set to transfer from CMU after the school fired its head coach, Zeigler's father, Ernie, earlier this month.

Zeigler tweeted Tuesday that he had plans on taking a visit to Duke this weekend. And Wednesday, reported that Zeigler had not been contacted by Michigan yet, but would be interested in the school if contact was made.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

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Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 1:28 a.m.

To PeteM, Nobody said fire him at all.Just keep him in prespective.It takes a certain kind of player to play for him,and there are not to many kids that like to play that kind of Basketball anymore.He's teaches a different kind of basketball.Like 25 years ago Basketball.But he's not who you think he is,i will tell you that,but who is.

Don Brake

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 10:37 p.m.

Would be sweet if we could lure BOTH Delle Valle AND Ziegler, but let's hope we get one of them!

Albee Macaw

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:27 a.m.

They are dumping the program like rats jumping ship. Enjoy that co championship banner. Be ANOTHER 2 or 3 decades before you even get a sniff. Oh I see the Buckeyes are headed to the elite 8. Syracuse should be nothing more then a speed bump to the final 4. I forgot how many schools from that tundra where your school is located are still in the tournament?


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

As a Michigan fan, I say best of luck to Ohio State! This must be an exciting time for you! I hope you're wrong on your prediction that Michigan won't win another B1G championship for 20 or 30 years! But who knows! Go Blue! Have a great day!


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:18 a.m.

Maybe we should try the Juco approach. After all, at most you expect them to stay around for two years.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 2:37 a.m.

Michigan basketball has made great improvements under Coach Beilein. We're not great yet, but we are improving and UM is reaping benefits from his efforts. Coach Beilein gets good production from players at varying skill levels. If players want to move on, that's okay - let's sincerely wish them well. It not a mutiny - Coach Beilein's system just might not be well suit to some players.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:42 a.m.

God you are the only person here that makes any sense! People love to forget what kind of program JB took over and if u forgot it was an underachieving 10 yrs. It should say something about the program when we have kids going pro,that it's a good one. There are so many people in these kids hears that the coaches have little to do with their decision. Think about being 20 yrs old and some agent tells you that your a 1st rd pick and your families saying take the money your gona do it. Why Evans leaving who knows it really hurts but every bodies different and maybe Michigan just wasn't right for him. Everybody needs to chill and be thankful for what JB has brought to Michigan 3 NCAA tourneys and a BIG10 championship! GO BLUE


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 2:27 a.m.

To cutty240. Interesting commentary. Could you provide background about your assertions or are we reading your opinions?


Sun, Mar 25, 2012 : 1:17 a.m.

He Coached at WVU,and i watched him do almost the same things.I liked him alot,but he is not who you think he is.Very Good Person,but also very Strange.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:27 a.m.

I keep telling you Michiagn people that Beilein is More of a Control freak than Rich was.He is hard to play for.He will tell players what to eat,in the off season.He's a good Coach,NOT A GREAT COACH.He will never get you in trouble.But he's taken your program as far as its going to go.Plus he's do to move and take another Job.He's never stayed more than five years anywhere,except Michigan what is this His 6th year.He likes You.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

So are you suggesting that Beilein be fired? That would be nuts, and I promise that if we fired a coach who had been to 3 tournaments in 5 years and had just won a Big Ten title we would get no one with a decent resume.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:17 a.m.

I don't think Beilein is "do" (sic) to do anything. After so many stops in so many places, at his age he is due to stick around. Let's hope he is successful.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 1:32 a.m.

You are correct.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:18 a.m.

I guess being a "Michigan Man" isn't all that it's cracked up to be


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

"And, for that, he'll big leave pretty big void." I agree. Big leave pretty.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

the only loss here is smotrcyz, if burke will leave then we will be a 6 or 7 seed next year in the tourney if he stays a 3 2 or possibly a 1 he makes a huge difference with his ability to create off the dribble. Nik staukas is good but he wont be playing the point even if trey leaves. the italian will sign with us, christian and brundidge mean nothing christan wouldnt hav played this year and brundidge is not a good player for our system

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

I readily confess to knowing virtually nothing about University of Michigan basketball. But in my opinion when a 6'9" forward shooting 3's is a key cog in your offensive scheme hopefully it means you have a couple solid 6' 10"- 7' 0" guys banging the boards underneath. its hard to win a lot overly dependent on 3's

jeff blue

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

ALL, At this point, we do not know if anything is wrong with Michigan. If we can get some great recruits, then this all makes perfect sense and it can be good for the program. I admit that if Burke leaves, it is a really bad sign. We lost Manny and Darius before we should have. We should not lose Burke! But, I seem to remember that MSU lost Marcus Taylor long before he should have left college. Sometimes these early NBA departures are due to the parents; they want to get some cash, more than they want their child to earn a great college degree. If Burke is a first round pick, then you can't blame him. It almost seems 50%/50%. JEFF


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

You go to college to get an education and to later find employment. Why is it so wrong for an athlete to leave college for employment that will pay crazy amounts of money? Your tone says it as if it is a negative.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

Jeff- good catch on Marcus Taylor- but remember, the year after Taylor left, MSU made the elite eight before falling to Texas. If Burke leaves, can UM make it to the elite eight?


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

The loss of Christian is a flesh wound. The loss of Brundidge is a deep flesh wound due to the lack of depth in the backcourt. The loss of Smotrycz is a very deep flesh wound, as he was an important cog in the team this year. The loss of Burke is a mortal blow for success next year. I don't understand why Smotz is leaving, he is poised for a big year. Something is wrong with the program.

Nic schweigert

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

Dude. Two words. Proof read


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

"Proofread" is one word.