The last time short shorts were in fashion on the basketball court was when Utah Jazz guard John Stockton wore them in the early 1990s.
Now, short shorts have been brought back to life by Michigan junior forward D.J. Wilson.
“I met with the Maize Rage (Michigan’s student section) the other day, and a young co-ed asked me about D.J.’s (Wilson) short shorts,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said. “It’s a fashion statement.”
DJ Wilson wears short shorts pic.twitter.com/Aud5RSapxZ
— Dustin Johnston (@DJPhotoVideo) November 5, 2016
Wilson’s presence in Michigan’s first two games this season reaches far beyond his fashion statement. The 6-foot-10 junior has 22 rebounds through two games, coming off the bench in both. His rebound total leads the team by a wide margin over centers Mark Donnal and Moe Wagner, who each has nine. It hasn’t been all about rebounds for Wilson. In Michigan’s defensive rebuild this season, he has been the early star. Wilson has six blocks through two games while staying out of foul trouble.
Arguably Wilson’s biggest improvement has stemmed from his leadership.
“D.J. Wilson has become, not just an athletic defender, but he’s talking,” Beilein said. “And he’s pointing guys where to go. He has taken this defense to the next level.”
His play on the boards has been the most noticeable strength because it’s something Michigan basketball hasn’t seen in recent years.
Donnal and Wagner are known for their struggles on defense, and it has remained an issue, especially with rebounds, so far this season.
Wilson’s spark has provided a down-low defensive presence for the first time since center Jordan Morgan in 2013-14.
“So far it’s been a huge leap for D.J. (Wilson),” Michigan senior guard Zak Irvin said. “He’s an X factor for our team. Not only the play, but on the court he’s been talking to guys.”
Wilson averaged 6 minutes last season as a sophomore. His role has expanded and will continue to grow with his strong play thus far.
So what has been the recipe for Wilson’s rising success?
“I just changed my mindset to become more aggressive. I know that’s what we needed to be better than last season,” Wilson said.
Wilson has been the difference maker in Michigan’s first two games. The Wolverines face their stiffest competition yet on Thursday night yet at 9:30 ET in the 2K Classic against Marquette at Madison Square Garden.
Can the X factor shine on the big stage? Tune in to ESPN2 on Thursday to find out.