The Michigan Wolverines Men’s Basketball Scouting Class of 2021 is one of the most talented in school history, headlining prospects with NBA potential like Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate.
Thanks to the depth of Michigan’s roster, several of the 2021 class players are flying under the radar with all the media attention surrounding Houstan and Diabate. Within this class, one of the players who used to not get the attention they deserve is Isaiah Barnes, as he was an unranked rookie two years ago.
Let’s break down Barnes’ high school game and project what fans can expect from him in the 2021-22 season and beyond.
The story so far
Hailing from the legendary Simeon High School in Chicago, Barnes is no stranger to big games and big crowds. He’s a great two-way player who has proven he can create his own shot while keeping one of the other team’s best players in high school. He shows very active hands in defense and uses his fast feet to create turnovers before coming out in transition.
Barnes also has a fluid jumper and uses clever dribbling to freeze defenders and create space for his shot.
I like his tenacity with the ball, as he always seems to be in attack mode, rushing towards the basket and finishing in contact. When Barnes can’t reach the rim, he uses his pivot foot and can find his teammates nearby on the wing and around the corner competently.
Barnes will play more than a few highlights in Michigan thanks to his dunking abilities. It’s usually a two-handed dunker on one foot that has posterized dozens of high school students. There is a serious case to be made, he is the best dunker in the class.
Barnes has the potential to become a 3-and-D scoring wing with the Wolverines. Over the next few years, I project that he will play a role similar to that of Muhammad Ali Abdur Rahkman; he might not be the # 1 scoring option, but he can be counted on to hit big shots and play solid defense.
The Chicago native has higher potential than Abdur Rahkman and many other Michigan wings, so fans shouldn’t be shocked if he gets NBA buzz in a few years.
While Barnes is clearly a talented player, there may not be many minutes available for him this season. With the way the roster is shaking for this season, the position with the least depth may be at 3 (small forward), with Houstan likely to take the start.
Terrance Williams said on media day that he trained in 3, but Barnes appears to be a better shooter who could take those minutes in the second unit.
Barnes and Will Tschetter seem the most likely candidates to be in a red shirt this season. While they’re both super talented, there might not be a lot of minutes available for them with all the depth of the backyard.
Much like Williams last season, if he’s not in a red shirt, I could see Barnes playing in 3-4 minute bursts to get his feet wet. He will likely play less than 10 minutes per game this season, but if he can reliably take down all three and defend well, those minutes will increase.
In the long run, Barnes could be a staple in Michigan’s rotation for years to come. If Houstan leaves for the NBA Draft after this season, Barnes could theoretically slide to the 3-point and double-digit average sooner rather than later.
The fact that Barnes might not have minutes on this year’s squad doesn’t hit him at all, but a combination of players back in front of him and the loaded class of 2021 puts him in a tough spot for this season.
Michigan fans might not see him much this season, but the fact remains that Barnes is a talented two-way wing who may be a staple in Michigan basketball in a few years.