Michigan basketball’s Franz Wagner enters the NBA draft

Franz Wagner’s college career appears to be over.

The Michigan basketball star declared for the NBA draft Tuesday after two productive years in Ann Arbor.

The decision does not come as a surprise: Wagner is commonly projected as a first-round draft pick, considered entering the draft last offseason and has always been considered a future NBA player dating back to his youth career in Germany.

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound wing was one of the best all-around players in the Big Ten this season as a sophomore. Wagner started all 28 games, averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and Associated Press.

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Wagner improved in just about every aspect between his freshman and sophomore seasons. On offense, he developed into a playmaker, tripling his assists per game, and also upped his 3-point shooting percentage. Wagner flirted with 40% on the season before a late drought dropped it to 34.3%.

But it is Wagner’s defense that makes him an especially coveted prospect. With his size, length and lateral ability, Wagner was an exceptional on- and off-ball defender who forced 2.3 turnovers per game in 2020-21. He projects as a switchable defender at the next level who can guard multiple positions.

Michigan guard Franz Wagner blocks a shot by UCLA guard Jules Bernard during the first half of the Elite Eight game in the NCAA tournament on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in Indianapolis.

Wagner was the first recruit to officially commit to coach Juwan Howard after a recruitment that featured an unusual twist. In May of 2019, Wagner was scheduled to officially visit Michigan, the school that his older brother, Moritz, played for. As he and his family waited in an airport, they received a call from former coach John Beilein announcing his departure for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Despite the coaching turmoil, Wagner went through with his visit. And Howard and the rest of the staff eventually convinced him to pick the Wolverines— a decision that paid off for both sides.

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Now, Wagner has a chance to be drafted higher than his brother, who was the No. 25 overall selection in the 2018 draft.

In ESPN’s most recent mock draft from Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz, Wagner was projected as the No. 9 overall pick (he was No. 20 in the previous edition). Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie ranked Wagner No. 18 on the latest version of his NBA draft board.

If Wagner were drafted in the first round, he would be Michigan’s first first-round pick since Jordan Poole was taken No. 28 overall in 2019 — and he would also be Howard’s first player to be drafted.

Wagner’s departure, coupled with the addition of Coastal Carolina transfer DeVante’ Jones, puts Michigan at the scholarship limit for the 2021-22 season.

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Michigan Wolverines content.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan basketball’s Franz Wagner enters the NBA draft

Published: 2021-05-04 13:53:06

Tags: #Michigan #basketballs #Franz #Wagner #enters #NBA #draft

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