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Andrew Kahn | | July 27, 2018

Michigan has four freshmen who are ‘way more advanced’

ANN ARBOR -- John Beilein has a type. He likes players who can shoot, dribble, and pass over those who can physically overwhelm their peers. If a kid has skill and strength, great, but Beilein, more so than most other college basketball coaches, is willing to take chances on players who need to spend time in the weight room.

Consider Michigan's freshman class the exception.

"Four out of the five are, physically, really impressive," U-M strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson said. "They're way more advanced than what we typically have had in past freshmen."

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Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III had college-ready bodies as soon as they arrived in Ann Arbor. But far more Beilein recruits look like Tim Hardaway, Jr. or Nik Stauskas and need to add 15 pounds of muscle.

This year's newcomers, ranked No. 12 in the country, already look like they've put in a couple of years at Camp Sanderson.

"Dave DeJulius is a grown man," Sanderson said. "He's a beast." Listed at 6-foot and 190 pounds, the 18-year-old DeJulius reminds Sanderson, physically, of former Michigan point guard Derrick Walton, Jr. as an upperclassman.

Adrien Nunez is 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds. Brandon Johns, Jr., at 6-foot-8, 225, is a "physically advanced, really gifted athlete," according to Sanderson.

Ignas Brazdeikis has very similar measurements -- 6-foot-7, 215 pounds -- to Robinson, an NBA Slam Dunk champion preparing for his fifth season in the league.

Those four freshmen "don't need to gain a bunch of weight to be able to play and contribute," Sanderson said.

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The fifth member of the class, Colin Castleton, is 6-foot-11 and 210 pounds. Although Castleton will try to bulk up, he's a reminder that Beilein is used to that type of project. One former Michigan center weighed 211 pounds his first day on campus three years ago. In June, he was taken in the first round of the NBA draft.

Sanderson can't help compare Castleton to Moritz Wagner. "It's like a clone," he said.

That is not to say Castleton is or will be the same player as Wagner. Just as the fact that the other freshmen are big and strong doesn't mean they're finished physical products. DeJulius is a complete point guard. Nunez is a dead-eye shooter. Brazdeikis and Johns are both top-100 players and Castleton can shoot 3s and block shots. Together, the group is ranked No. 12 in the country, but Sanderson sees weaknesses.

They'll work to improve their mobility and range of motion. Brazdeikis is "tight," according to Sanderson, an issue that could restrict his ability to express his athleticism. Developed muscles alone are nice for the beach. Playing basketball at a high level requires much more -- getting into certain positions quickly, applying force in a particular direction, for example. The Michigan staff evaluates all of this, just like it would chart 3-point shooting.

Sanderson and company will have work to do in the months leading up to the start of the season. It's just not the same kind of work they're used to. 

This article is written by Andrew Kahn from, Walker, Mich. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to


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