Michigan's Tre Donaldson: 'I feel like I'm the best point guard in the country' (2024)

Michigan Wolverines basketball point guard Tre Donaldson doesn’t lack much confidence. As he shared on an interview on the ‘Defend The Block’ podcast with host Brian Boesch, the Auburn transfer is highly motivated to prove doubters wrong, make the NBA and win for U-M.

New Michigan head coach Dusty May and his staff prioritized landing Donaldson out of the transfer portal and accomplished their goal.

“It felt good,” Donaldson said of being a focal point of the Wolverines’ recruiting efforts this offseason. “I feel like I’m the best point guard in the country, so just being able to have a new platform here at Michigan and a coach that believes in me fully and I get the opportunity to be on the floor a little bit more, it’s exciting. It’s a blessing.”

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While at Florida from 2021-22, Michigan assistant coach Akeem Miskdeen dished Donaldson a scholarship offer, so the two have had a relationship that dates back years. That connection helped his recruitment with the Wolverines, which included “truthful and honest” conversations.

“That’s all you can ask for, honestly,” Donaldson explained. “You want it to be realistic, as well. Some things, you don’t want to hear, but some things, you need to hear —and those were the conversations we had.

“I can respect them for that, and that was what helped me lean to Michigan, because I want someone I can talk to that’s going to be real to me, tell me the tough things that I don’t want to hear but I need to hear sometimes. And that’s what Dusty did, and that was a big thing for me because I asked a lot of questions, I’m trying to get to the next level. So just me asking a lot of questions and him being able to give me the raw answer is what I was looking for.”

Donaldson said he chose Michigan because he felt like the staff and style of play was the “best fit.” He believes he has a chance to play at the next level coming out of U-M, due in part to the up-tempo brand of basketball May’s teams play with.

Here’s how Donaldson described himself as a player: “Exciting. Fast. Exciting. A lot of shot-making. But I’m Tre —I’m bringing the South to Michigan.

“[Bringing the South to Michigan is] a swagger. It’s just a different swagger I have about myself. I can be myself again. Y’all can see I’m very entertaining, very fun, but I’m here to take over Ann Arbor.”

As far as hobbies outside of basketball, much like May, Donaldson says he doesn’t have any. His dedication is to the game.

“It’s all I got,” the Michigan guard stated. “Basketball is all I got. It’s all I want. I have my eyes set on a goal, and it means so much to me. If I’m not here, I’m either asleep or I might be with my friends. But that’s all I got.”

‘Best defender on the floor’

The Tallahassee, Fla., native started 10 of 35 games this past season at Auburn, averaging 6.7 points, 3.2 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per contest. He was in a platoon at point guard for the Tigers but projects to earn much more playing time in Ann Arbor.

One area that Donaldson prides himself on is defense.

“Tre Donaldson is going to be the best defender on the floor,” the player said of himself. “I mean, we got Big Vlad [graduate center Vladislav Goldin] and stuff like that, but I’m going to guard. And I feel like that’s a big jump that I’ve made. I’m trying to win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year as a guard, which is tough. It’s a big man league. I feel like I’ve grown defensively a lot.

“I play with a lot of energy, and I know defense is a big thing that the next level looks at. Just being able to key in on defense. I mean, offensively everybody playing Power Five basketball can do something with the basketball. But the guys that are paying attention to defense are able to stand out. And I’m bringing the South to Ann Arbor, so just bringing that toughness, the speed of the South up here is a big difference.”

Continued Donaldson, of where he’s improved as a college player: “Me just being able to make shots and make the right reads on time and on target, and just continuing to lead and be the winner that I am.”

Donaldson said this offseason he’s focused on improving his consistency and leadership, even “in “when things get tough.

“Leaders tend to get away from what they’re supposed to do,” Donaldson said of those moments. “Just continue to stay being that leader no matter what’s going on in any given moment.”

Michigan team chemistry is building: ‘A lot of them have something to prove’

Donaldson will have the ball in his hands a lot, but May and Co. also like to play multiple players who can handle point-guard duties. In addition, the big men in this system have to make decisions, and Goldin —coming from FAU —is capable. Yale transfer Danny Wolf, another 7-footer, is, as well, and the big men will play a significant role.

“They’re very different,” Donaldson said of Goldin and Wolf. “Vlad is a bruiser, so just me being able to come off screens and get the attention of the defense and him being able to run and me give him an opportunity and him being able to score and get easy buckets and me being able to get the assists that I get through him. Him rebounding and stuff like that, it allows us to play fast.

“Danny being able to handle the ball and do things like that, Dusty likes to play fast, get out, those four guards that are able to play point guard. If Danny gets the rebound, we can run the lane. It allows us faster, quicker guys to get out and run, finish and have fun in transition. That’s where the excitement comes in, in Coach’s system.”

Michigan started summer workouts June 10, with the coaching staff getting eight hours per week on the court with the players. The rest of the time, the Wolverines are training and getting to know each other off the floor. Donaldson believes the group will be a connected one.

“Everybody gets along, so that’s a plus,” the guard said. “The chemistry is going to be there. But it’s a group of guys that all have something to prove. Everybody has a story in this, but at the end of the story, with all the guys that we have, you can tell that a lot of them have something to prove.

“[The summer is] when you get a feel for everybody, for sure. Just like playing pickup, playing one-on-one, workouts, you see what everybody can do, what they like to do, tendencies, things of that nature. You get a better feel for it. And us just being around each other, we’re able to have … being a leader and stuff like that, being able to have that bond and that close relationships with your teammates allows you to have tough conversations with each other that need to be had.”

Michigan's Tre Donaldson: 'I feel like I'm the best point guard in the country' (2024)

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