Wagner cagey about future at UM hoops banquet
Ann Arbor — Junior center Moritz Wagner isn’t ready to tip his hand just yet.
Prior to Michigan’s awards banquet Wednesday at Crisler Center, Wagner said he’s still weighing his options about his future and whether he’ll forgo his senior year for the NBA.
“I know this is a big question,” Wagner said. “I took some time off from basketball to gather myself. It’s a long season that’s behind us.
“This is something I’m not trying to talk about too much ... This is something between me and Coach (John Beilein). We have this relationship that I really embrace. It’s not about my future right now. We will all know soon enough.”
Wagner said he hasn’t given himself a timetable to make an announcement. As an underclassman, he will have until April 22 to declare for the NBA Draft without an agent. If invited, he could participate in the NBA Combine in Chicago from May 16-20 and will have until May 30 to withdraw his name from draft consideration and maintain his final season of college eligibility.
Beilein confirmed the two have talked about what’s next, and added he has a gut feeling on which way Wagner is leaning but declined to share it. Wagner, on the other hand, remained tightlipped and didn’t want to take away from the end-of-season celebration.
“I will tell you if I knew. I would tell you if I wanted to,” Wagner said. “I got to be that honest, though, because this night is not about my future. This night is about three incredible seniors, an incredible team and a memory that we will share forever.”
Michigan set a program record with 33 wins this season, won its second straight Big Ten tournament championship and reached the national title game for just the seventh time in program history.
While Wagner was a major reason for the team’s success as the leading scorer (14.6 points) and rebounder (7.1), his draft stock hasn’t changed much from a season ago. Last year he was projected as an early second-round pick, at best, by most projections. This year, he’s projected by most analysts in the same area as an early-to-mid second-round selection.
By going through the evaluation process last season, Wagner said he learned he had to be a little more selfish, take the time he needed and not rush anything. He added he’s not as concerned about the risk level this time around.
“I know what I can do and can’t. I’m old enough now to measure that, to be confident in my ability,” Wagner said. “It’s more about a very special place (Michigan) and that’s something that was very important to me last year that I wasn’t ready to do the next step of my life.
“I love this place and I’ve always said this regardless of what’s going to happen is this place will forever be in my heart. It’s weird because it’s kind of my home. I know everyone says that the university is my home but for me it technically is because this is always where I go back. If I don’t have a room here, I don’t have a room anywhere in the (United) States. This is where I kind of grew up. I really see this as my hometown.”
In addition to Wagner, redshirt sophomore wing Charles Matthews has also had conversations with Beilein about his future.
Matthews ranked second on the team in scoring (13 points) and rebounding (5.5) behind Wagner. And while he hasn’t appeared in any draft projections, he still has the option to declare without an agent and test the draft waters.
“I think we’re just gaining the final information from the different sources and just the thing is make an educated decision then don’t turn back,” Beilein said. “We’re all in that same boat with those two (Matthews and Wagner) because they both obviously have great pro potential, but timing is everything and being ready is everything. They’re trying to measure whether that’s the next step for them.”
While Beilein wants to give both Matthews and Wagner as much information as possible, he said there could be a potential downside to Matthews going through the draft process.
“There’s reasons both ways. There’s reasons when our kids have been seen 41 games. People have seen them,” Beilein said. “People have come to our practices. Sometimes testing could show weaknesses you’re still developing on. On the other hand, testing could show, ‘OK, I’m the real deal.’ That’s what we’re all trying to sort out with everybody.”
Regardless, Beilein said he’s supportive of whatever move Matthews and Wagner make.
″(Wagner) has made really good decisions over the past,” Beilein said. “We’ve got a lot of data for him to look at and whatever decision he makes is going to be a good one.”
Bill Buntin Most Valuable Player: Moritz Wagner and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman
Wayman Britt Outstanding Defensive Player: Zavier Simpson
Travis Conlan Sportsmanship Award: Duncan Robinson
Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player: Zavier Simpson
Sixth Man Award: Duncan Robinson
Steve Grote Hustle Award: Zavier Simpson
Thad Garner Leadership Award: Duncan Robinson
Iron Man Award: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman
Award for Outstanding Free Throw Shooting: Duncan Robinson
Morgan/Bodnar Brothers Award for Academic Achievement: Moritz Wagner
Gary Grant Award for Most Assists: Zavier Simpson
Loy Vaught Rebounding Award: Moritz Wagner