For Michigan basketball fans, the NCAA Tournament loss stunk. There’s no getting around that. But the hope for the future was legitimate and tangible, given a strong recruiting class and a returning core group of successful players. Freshman sensation Trey Burke (now wavering?) and sophomore wing Tim Hardaway, Jr., have said they will return to Ann Arbor next year, and while seniors Zach Novak and Stu Douglass will be sorely missed, John Beilein’s rotation was supposed to expand, not shrink, with the addition of three highly-touted freshman and sophomore center Jon Horford returning from a broken foot. However, with yesterday’s announcement that Evan Smotrycz, Colton Christian, and Carlton Brundidge are all leaving the program, the excitement for the 2012-13 era of Michigan basketball has certainly been dampened.
Now, I am not saying that these departures are earth-shattering, or that Michigan can’t recover from losing these three players. To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t unexpected to see a guy like Christian leave, because he was not going to play in the regular rotation. Brundidge has denied transfer rumors as recently as a couple weeks ago, and many had hoped he would develop into Burke’s backup at the point guard spot next year. That obviously isn’t going to happen now, and it’s disconcerting for fans to see a highly-touted Detroit-area player (Southfield High School) wash out so quickly from the program.