Michigan’s Emerging MVP: Ricky Doyle

Posted on Posted in Michigan Basketball

We all thought it would be Caris LeVert who would be the big impact player this season. It looks like we were all wrong.

Ricky Doyle was just a three-star recruit, but then again, so was Trey Burke, and look at what he was able to accomplish. That’s why recruiting stars often indicate little to nothing.

With Jon Horford, Mark Donnal and Max Bielfeldt in the front court, Doyle was merely an afterthought. That changed quickly. Once Horford transferred to Florida, there was suddenly a lack of depth at the five spot. For the first time in a while, there was serious competition for the starting role.

The two competing were Donnal and Doyle. During the offseason, Doyle injured his ankle and that limited him from practices for much of that time. That meant Donnal would get his chance to start.

The problem is that Donnal didn’t show us much. He’s come along very slowly, especially for a player who was red-shirted. He’s shown that he’s a good shooter, but that’s about it. He is slow on the court and looks lackadaisical at times. He fouls at inopportune times and his defense leaves a lot to be desired.

After starting for the first ten games, he lost his job to Doyle. Doyle is completely different on the court. He plays with energy and often gives his team the spark that it needs. He is very active on both sides of the court. His play style is very reminiscent of Mitch McGary in his freshman year. Like McGary, Doyle also makes a noticeable impact once he gets on the floor. The proof is in his numbers. Over the last five games his +/- looks like this:

CSU 56 VS MICH 72                            +13
ILLINI 65 VS MICH 73 (OT)                 +10
MICH 51 VS PUR 64                            -13
MICH 73 VS PSU 64                           +14
MINN 57 VS MICH 62                         +25

It’s a small sample size, but it’s evident that when Doyle is on the floor, that gives Michigan a better chance at winning the game. His numbers are solid. Doyle is averaging 7.9 PPG through 16 games. His field goal percentage is at 70.6%. He’s also averaging 3.2 rebounds per game. Some of Doyle’s other important stats look like this thus far:

Ricky Doyle

Floor Percentage


True Shooting Percentage


Free Throw Percentage


Effective FG Percentage


Offensive Rebounds


Defensive Rebounds


Doyle has increased his numbers across the board this past month. No one expected the 6-foot-9, 245-pound freshman to be the breakout player this season. It’s come as shock to most of us. Who knows if this will keep up, but for now it’s fun to watch and no one is complaining.

The best part is that his ceiling is high and his play will only get better along with his teammates’. Strong big man play will be needed if Michigan has hopes of repeating as Big Ten Champions. In this league, you won’t succeed without an impactful big man. It looks like the Wolverines have found theirs and because of that they’re playing much better.

Fatima Harajli