Michigan announced on Wednesday morning that rising junior forward Moritz Wagner will be foregoing the 2017 NBA Draft and returning to the Michigan Wolverines. This is huge news for a Michigan program that is already seeing a few key departures.
As a recruit, Wagner arrived in Ann Arbor with a considerable amount of hype. He was rated as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and the No. 118 player in the national composite. Most figured that he would either redshirt or operate in a bench role as a freshman and develop into a starter down the road.
However, Wagner saw himself become a key bench option late in his freshman season and into a legitimate starter as a sophomore. During last season, he averaged 12.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per game while playing 23.9 minutes per game.
Perhaps the highlight of Wagner’s season came in a comeback victory over Louisville in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. He scored 26 points on an impressive 11-for-14 from the field and almost single-handedly carried the Wolverines to victory and the program’s third Sweet Sixteen appearance in the last five years.
Simply put, Wagner’s return is a significant one. Not only is he a great player, but he should lockdown a spot that had been an issue during the two seasons prior to Wagner’s emergence. In fact, if Wagner had remained in the NBA Draft, Michigan could very well have needed two players (Austin Davis and Jon Teske) with virtually no experience to step into major minutes.
The attention will now be on DJ Wilson, who has not yet announced his NBA Draft decision. Most figured that Wilson would be more likely of the two to leave the Wolverines, but his return would almost certainly guarantee Michigan a spot among the preseason top 25 teams.
Nonetheless, even if Wilson does remain in the Draft, Michigan knows it has at least one top-tier player returning upfront with Wagner.