In recent days I can’t help but wonder which, if any, of Michigan Basketball‘s seniors will take up head coach Juwan Howard’s invitation to return to the program for one last kick at the can. Don’t forget this past season was deemed a ‘free year’ due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Any senior is eligible to return if they so wish, and Howard clearly made it known all are welcome despite the Wolverines having the highest-rated class of freshmen in the country set to join the program.
The five seniors who have the option are Isaiah Livers, Eli Brooks, Mike Smith, Austin Davis, and Chaundee Brown.
Livers is expected to enter the NBA Draft and will likely be a late first-round or early second-round choice. Recently the forward underwent foot surgery and is expected to be sidelined for up to six months.
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In Bleacher Report’s latest mock draft, they have Livers going 49th overall to the Detroit Pistons via the Hornets.
Michigan Basketball’s talented forward was forced to miss the entire NCAA tournament due to a foot injury. The Wolverines missed their second-leading scoring in their defeat to UCLA. Michigan missed their final eight shots and eventually lost by a bucket.
If Livers had been able to help the Wolverines to a Final Four appearance, he might have had the opportunity to launch himself back into the first round of the NBA Draft. Livers shot nearly 86% from the charity stripe throughout his career and 46.5% from the field.
Michigan Basketball’s Franz Wagner is still predicted to be an early first-round draft pick despite recent struggles.
It goes without saying, Franz Wagner struggled mightily in Michigan’s loss to UCLA. Wagner would conclude the game by shooting just 1/10 from the field and missing what would be the game-winning shot to send the Wolverines into the Final Four.
Wagner finished Michigan’s Elite Eight contest against UCLA with just four points. Everyone has bad days; Wagner just chose the wrong time to have an off day. Those types of games are best served in December or January, not April.
The talented yet inconsistent wing is expected to enter the NBA Draft. The same mock that had Livers landing with the Pistons in the second round has the one-time lottery pick sophomore Wagner going 11th overall to the Indiana Pacers.
Wagner, at 6-foot-9, is an above-average defender that can guard multiple positions and would benefit from returning for his junior season with the Wolverines to round out his offensive game. This is very unlikely considering where he is being mocked, just outside the top ten.
In 28 games this season, Wagner averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 boards, and three assists while shooting 47.7% from the field and 34.3% from beyond the arc.
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For the record, UCLA pushed undefeated Gonzaga to the brink during their Final Four appearance. The Bulldogs needed overtime and a hail mary final shot from Jalen Suggs to punch their ticket to Monday’s final. I can’t help but wonder how the Wolverines would have matched up against the Bulldogs, but unfortunately, we will never know.