THE RINGMASTER. There are more prominent Wolverines in this year's NBA Summer League but if you think I'm not starting with Defensive Stopper Duncan Robinson then, well, you probably thought there was breaking news on Jordan Poole or something. This is for my %#*&ing city.
The shooting is obviously his calling card but its plays like this that will likely catch eyes for Duncan Robinson. pic.twitter.com/lGYFz3MKl0
Robinson has averaged double-digit points on nearly 60% shooting while playing alongside his former point guard, Derrick Walton. In what has to be considered a remarkable testament to Robinson, John Beilein, and Luke Yaklich alike, those on the Heat beat are openly wondering if a two-way contract—the same way Walton got onto Miami's roster last year—will be enough to prevent other NBA teams from poaching The Ringmaster:
Remember, Earl Barron once stood as the all-time scoring leader of the Orlando Pro Summer League. But considering how much shooting range means in today's NBA, even if Robinson is the second coming of Steve Novak, that still could be enough to get him a contract somewhere, if not here. At this point, I'm not sure that a two-way contract is enough to keep him. It may instead take a standard deal, with a potential six-figure guarantee.
Who will play minutes in a real NBA game first: Former Division III Player Duncan Robinson or Former Kentucky Transfer Charles Matthews? That is a real question with a very uncertain answer at the moment. The "john beilein says there's gold in them thar hills" tag has been deployed.
[Hit THE JUMP for DJ Carton's final three, Laker Moe, freshman numbers, and more.]
Fresh off a Title Game run, Michigan and John Beilein have plenty of re-tooling to do. Losing several rotation members, the team’s likely starting lineup of Zavier Simpson, Jordan Poole, Charles Matthews, Isaiah Livers, and Jon Teske played only 29 possessions together (15 on offense, 14 on defense) last season per Hoop Lens. That particular lineup struggled mightily, but given the sample size, there’s little real conclusions that can be drawn from those minutes.
We can, however, look at each player and their successes in 2017-18 for clues as to how next season’s starting lineup might operate.
Here, we start with the returning floor general.
Simpson made significant strides in his sophomore season, especially on the offensive end of the floor. The Ohio native doubled his two-point field goal attempts per 100 possessions while improving his shooting on those attempts from 45.8 percent in his freshman year to 56.2 percent last season.
The point guard’s increased efficiency resulted largely from his masterful work in the pick-and-roll. Simpson’s operation on high screens was important due to the less reliable outside shooting around him – Michigan’s three-point shooting dropped from 38.5 percent in 2016-17 to 35.7 percent a year ago. Losing Duncan Robinson, Moe Wagner, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Michigan will rely on Simpson off the dribble even more in the fall.
Simpson’s most valuable asset is his first step and general quickness. His quickness is particularly advantageous when there are fewer defenders that can potentially impede his route to the basket. That primarily comes in two forms – in space and along the short side of the court. The latter is perhaps less intuitive because it results in less space to operate. But defenses generally commit less manpower to those areas.
[Hit THE JUMP for Simpson torching MSU, his growing rapport with Jon Teske, and much more.]
Carton's previously said he intends to take trips to all of his six finalists before deciding in late summer, so this is not a commit watch situation. Still, given his stated decision criteria...
“The most significant factors in the choice are just… getting me to my future,” he said. “Who can develop me the most (to) become NBA ready, winning, and just the relationships. I want a team that I can call my brothers and stuff like that… that I can go back in like 60 years from now and still know those guys and still talk to them. So, I want my team to feel family-like, and get me to my dream.”
...and Michigan's unmatched ability to put recruits ranked significantly lower than Carton into the NBA, Beilein and company have to feel pretty good here. Also of note: Carton credits Yaklich for initiating his relationship with him while he was at Illinois State; Yaklich is also Jalen Wilson's primary recruiter. Pay that man his money.
ESPN has scouts that avoided the axe. At least in basketball. ESPN's released a new 2019 top 100 featuring Carton at #28; their accompanying article mentions him and a couple other targets. Carton is one of the "fastest risers":
Carton didn't make the final cut of USA Basketball U-18 national team, but he nonetheless opened eyes over the first four days of trials. That, followed by a solid showing at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, helped him go from unranked to top 30.
The southpaw lead guard plays at multiple speeds and navigates well in ball screens by creating separation between defenders. He is a high assist maker both in the open floor with the advance pass or in tight spaces as he reads the defense.
Potential 2020 one-and-done RJ Hampton, Jalen Wilson's best bro, is super super highly touted:
R.J. Hampton, No. 3 in 2020
PG, 6-4, 180, Little Elm (Texas)
Hampton is a big point guard with speed and scoring ability. He is more comfortable putting points on the board at this stage in his development, but he continues to show the vision and the ability to read the game.
The NBA covets big point guards and Hampton checks a ton of boxes. Strength and a consistent jump shot are what he needs most.
Camp Sanderson and John Beilein SEEM LIKE A GOOD IDEA SIR. FWIW, Michigan is in on #3 Cole Anthony (sort of) and #4 Jaden McDaniels, though those guys are in a stratosphere Michigan's recruiting rarely touches. Jalen Wilson is #68.
Also I have just discovered that Fran McCaffrey's kid Patrick is #50. Naturally, he is a 6'9" guy.
HOEG. Richard Hoeg does small business law. Need to incorporate? Need some contracts? Need to talk about Star Control? Richard will do all three, and only charge you for the first two.
Anyway, Star Control. Star Control was a mindblowing video game because stuff happened in it and if you took too long you could lose the game as your allies fell to the great galactic menace. Losing is fun.
Having a bad contract and either getting sued or having to settle on unfavorable terms is not fun, and Richard Hoeg can help craft contracts for you that will avoid this eventuality. Police horses!
Tiller-era in more ways than one. This twitter bomb(!) from one of Purdue's recruiting yokels is frankly baffling:
Why pick a fight with a program that held you to 15 yards in the second half last year? Why get mad about Michigan getting recruits? You're at Purdue! With limited exceptions for legacies and locals the number of bonafide recruiting battles you're winning against Michigan—against, hell, most of the Big Ten, is zero. Also Purdue's leading receiver averaged 3.6 catches a game.
I feel like this guy bought a Big Dogs shirt for the first time and was overwhelmed by it while near his phone, and he'll return to a mild-mannered citizen tomorrow when he puts his Ron Jon back on. It happens. It's good, really. It's fun when Purdue has a bunch of ornery passing maniacs who talk shit and bend rules.
[After THE JUMP: a bunch of stuff! And porpoises!]
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When you close your eyes and think of Moe Wagner what moments come to mind? Can have multiple answers.
Ace: Trying to narrow it to one…
But if we had to, it would start here:
Seth: Other than Gary...
Ace: But that moment also shows why this starts to get really hard. That was the final blow in a two-year-long battle with Nick Ward that was an absolute joy to watch. Wagner had a few of those. The Painter-Beilein Wars spring to mind.
Ace: One of the first things that comes to mind for me when I think of Moe Wagner is a Matt Painter postgame press conference.
I still have the quotes saved from when he asks the assembled media if they really want to hear this (I’m nodding furiously) and then goes full scheme-geek on how Wagner absolutely blows up everything you want to do on defense.
Seth: The one for me—other than "ankle breaker"—is late in the Final Four, drenched in more sweat than the guy whose job he usurped, dribbles into the lane then right back out to the corner like he just suddenly had an idea to shoot from out there instead, and swoosh.
Brian: Wagner was so sweaty against Loyola
BiSB: Carrying a team for 30 minutes is sweaty work.
Brian: The sweat a culmination of all the work he put in to become an outstanding defensive rebounder. The brow of the working man. The common 6'11" three point shooting man. The man who could no longer be called soft.
Ace: Seriously, though, those NBA Combine numbers!
Brian: He played 30 MPG at center for a top 5 defense.
Ace: Fair point. I was still surprised.
[After THE JUMP: see what we remembered before you comment what we forgot]
Seth: Geoff Schwartz, an NFL lineman who tweets about drawing weakside ISOs on his daughter's magnetic doodle board, was in awe of Wagner's effort that day. Schwartz has never complimented anybody within 50 pounds of Moe.
Ace: Here’s a glorious sweat putback:
Brian: The moment towards the tail end of the first half against Loyola where he looked like Ricky Doyle in a sauna was a moment for these reasons.
But even though I wrote a whole dang column about Nick Ward's ankles…
…I think my absolute favorite Moe moment was the year before:
Brian: Michigan entered that game a seven seed against two-seed Louisville and their criminal sex vampire coach; Louisville had four different seven-footers and Wagner ate all of their lunches. That upfake that gets a center to commit outside the three point line and guard-like drive to the hoop is Wagner's career in five seconds to me.
Ace: Wagner’s crowd theater stands out to me as much as almost any specific in-game moment. I have so many gifs of him that could be captioned “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”
Brian: Yes, the laughing on the bench gif
He was a walking meme.
Ace: Every foul call.
Brian: I LOOKED EXACTLY THE SAME TBH
He was often justified!
Seth: So there's another one that wasn't his great basketball but it's embedded in my head under its gfycat name: Enchanted Lame Antelope Ground Squirrel. After Poole makes his shot he starts running and then realizes he's being chased by a 7-foot mad German and you can see the moment when his brain clicks off "I WON THE GAME" and goes to full fight or flight.
Ace: Yes, thank you. I couldn’t have been happier that the player nearest to Poole ended up being Moe.
Brian: It feels off brand for the blog to mention that Wagner stopped and consoled one of Houston's many Davii immediately after that GIF.
Like Peter King should say it instead of us.
But that was nice!
Brian: We here at MGoBlog treasure sportsmanship.
Seth: Firm handshakes for everybody.
Brian: That means we're kicking them off the team.
(After they graduated!)
Seth: This is what comes of making light of #sportsmanship for a decade, sir.
Ace: And at the same time I absolutely understand why players (and opposing fans) hated him.
Brian: Oh god yes! The tongue alone.
Ace: Just imagine spending 30 minutes being dragged by a German dude who hits threes, doesn’t play defense, and calls you “bitch” every other possession.
…Nick Ward doesn’t need to imagine except for the 30 minutes bit.
Ace: STILL GOT IT.
Seth: It's one thing to get trash talked all recess. It's another when it's the foreign exchange student. Also you guys: lips.
Ace: While we’re tied up in Wagner’s emotions, the interplay between him and Beilein also made for amazing theatre.
Brian: I wonder if Moe actually hooked Beilein up with his German hip-hop
Ace: This picture is unfairly taken out of context but it absolutely kills me every time:
Also did NOT have to scroll far for one of these:
But in the end:
That’s another one for me: John Beilein talking about Moe Wagner while trying to keep a straight face.
Brian: They would have been perfect in a buddy cop movie. Also I have many ideas about good buddy cop movies involving Michigan persons, 98% of which star Don Brown as the curmudgeon about to retire.
Seth: "Pitch a Don Brown Buddy Cop Movie" is a future TWO.
So my first memory of Moe is his first game (not counting the scrimmage I didn’t go to) against Elon. It sticks because Marc-Gregor was so excited he got the shot and because Demorest and I are two of the fuzzy things behind it:
Ace: Moe really grew an insane amount in two years. Seeing Baby Moe bleed is kinda jarring.
Brian: That's a wing.
Ace: Two years later, he dropped 24-15 in a national semifinal.
Brian: Another excellent on-court thing was that one specific game vs Purdue at Crisler where Matt Painter kicked off his desperation switching defense. As Ace mentioned, Wagner and Purdue made for really fun basketball games.
Ace: Also: learned English.
Just in time.
Ace: I’ll show my NBA habit and make a comparison for Moe that’ll seem odd initially: Steph Curry. There’s been a lot of talk this week based on this bit of brutal and 100% correct insight:
KD went for 37 and 38 the first 2 games and Warriors twitter was like "eh...I guess". Steph had an 18 point quarter and Warriors twitter lost their shit. KD thought he was Kobe. Chasing that farewell tour. They don't love you like that.
— Beyonce has an uncle named Larry Beyince. Bruh.... (@DragonflyJonez) May 21, 2018
Nobody since Stauskas had Crisler under their spell like Moe when he had it rolling and man that Purdue game was one of those times.
Ace: This post would’ve been incomplete without the German three signal.
Seth: Oh what about that Wisconsin game last year (Feb 2017).
Ace: A lot of it runs together for me. There are absolutely peaks that stand out but it’s more faces and threes and murder offense and foul trouble and touching Player’s Tribune articles.
Which is another thing: it was genuinely remarkable to watch a kid from Berlin grow to love and understand Michigan in ways that he expressed quite beautifully by the end of his career.
Seth: Also: mad dunks.
Ace: Yes, MAAR’s face. Also: the future of Wisconsin basketball.
Seth: MAAR vs the camera lens is undefeated.
BiSB: It's hard to believe he was only 20 when he played his last game. The guy was mature and contemplative beyond his years. But only after he played the game like a 16-year-old hopped up on Pixy Stix and Surge.
Ace: Really personable, too. He found a way to connect with people. This will sound a little fanboy-ish but whatever. I’m not one who asks a lot of questions in pressers. After a game this year I was the last person lingering behind the player scrum for Wagner, who I really doubt knows me from Adam (so to speak, hi Adam), and I slipped in an off-kilter question that I don’t completely remember but am 97% sure was about Jordan Poole. A lot of guys would quite understandably fire off something quick and run back to the locker room. He paused for a moment, said something legitimately funny and insightful, and winked before heading for the exit.
Seth: Also: ran over Tom Crean.
Brian: You're going to be asking a lot of questions about mulch next year
Ace: I’ve already taken notes on pitchforks vs. shovels.
BiSB: Jars three. Runs over Tom Crean. Appears to feel bad about running over Tom Crean. The Moe Wagner Story.
Brian: God if that was Izzo instead of Crean he'd have a statue already
Ace: We can give him partial credit for this:
Brian: I think this is where i say YAAAAAAS QUEEEN?
Ace: Good couple years for angry opposing coach gifs, and again, Wagner is largely responsible. Also some very short opposing coach postgame press conferences, hello Tom Crean.
Brian: Pretty much the direct cause of Twenty Minutes Of Izzo Eating His Liver At Breslin
BiSB: Unlike Izzo, at least Wagner put Nick Ward on the floor once in a while.
Ace: I feel like I’m taking the lid off my still-only-outlined Moe retrospective post early but, yeah, that man’s legacy is being pure uncaged emotion and sucking everything around him into that vortex. I’ll, uh, work on the metaphor.
Ace: Are we missing anything glaringly obvious?
But that's what commenters are for.
Ace: One last shoutout to his signature, awkward, devastating behind-the-back move, which in addition to murderating Nick Ward’s ankles also produced the most hilariously evil basket in the Texas A&M game, which was 40 minutes of hilariously evil baskets:
So, uh, recovery hasn't been as smooth as expected—those following me on Twitter have probably picked up on that—and as such I'm pushing out posts when I can. I've been hoping to get to the Moe Wagner retrospective but have held off because I've hit a block there; in the process of preparing that post and working through the block, I did at least get through the Loyola Chicago game in GIFs. (Most of it, at least. This copy cut out all good replays of Wagner crashing into Raftery/Hill, which is an argh experience.) Did I do Florida State yet? Uh, working on it. Time is a construct.
Anyway, remember that time Moe Wagner put up a Final Four stat line matched only by Akeem Olajuwon and Larry Bird?
That was enjoyable.
[The rest of the Loyola game in GIFs, featuring a LOT of Moe, after THE JUMP.]
Mulch Madness at the Beilein Residence today 15 yards of Mulch delivered In just over 2 hrs the huge pile was gone and put in the beds Thx to Austin , Isaiah , Jon , Jordan , Drew, Zach and Nolan Loved working side by side with these guys again #GoBluepic.twitter.com/XalInNCGo6
I HAVE QUESTIONS. When did Beilein think up "Mulch Madness" and how excited was he to send that tweet?Why does John Beilein need 15 cubic yards of mulch? I need 15 cubic yards of mulch because my entire yard is mulched. Does John Beilein also have a no-grass yard? Did he clear this with compliance? (A: Yes, obviously.) Did that mean the players couldn't have snacks?
Where did he get his mulch? How much did it cost? Is it cheaper than the mulch I buy? What's with the pitchforks, doesn't the mulch fall through? Is it stupid to use a snow-shovel instead of these pitchfork things? That's what I do. Will I force Ace to ask all these questions at a press conference? (A: Yes, obviously.)
He said Saturday he feels the game hasn’t been emphasized enough by Michigan.
“To be quite honest I really feel like over the years, in recent years, there hasn’t been the emphasis that I’m used to being put on that game,” Woodson said.
“Every game has been out on the same level of that game and that’s not the way we were brought up, that’s not the way we were raised around here. And we had no shame in saying it.”
Michigan lost by a literal inch in 2016 and last year had a brilliant gameplan undone by a third string quarterback playing like an eighth string one. Also they went and grabbed a defensive coordinator who runs a 4-2-5 as a base and has a 3-3-5 changeup in an attempt to tackle OSU's spread offense. There have been cracks in the Harbaugh façade—cough cough Drevno—but "doesn't prepare enough for Ohio State" is not one of them.
Sources told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg that Northwestern and Purdue are two possible destinations for Johnson. His brother Cole played in few games as a reserve for Northwestern a few years ago.
This is against the natural way of things where failed Purdue quarterbacks inexplicably go start for major programs in the south, but I suspect Boiler fans will accept this violation of tradition if in fact they do land Johnson. If the Boilers can hold onto Jeff Brohm, who was a candidate during Tennessee's crazy search, they could be in for some Tiller-era seasons. Large ifs, but with Nebraska finally hiring someone who is a good idea the West could be substantially less sad in the near future.
Or Johnson could be so definitively behind Trevor Lawrence he transfers after one spring session because he's not actually that good. Peters's team blew his out, after all.
Camp Sanderson now has data behind it. Moe Wagner came back to Michigan in part because he wasn't an NBA-ready athlete. The bits of this that can be fixed seem to have been fixed, emphatically:
But other assertions are more interesting and less directly contradicted by data. Both guys think Colin Castleton has a chance to be elite:
Bossi’s take: “Castleton is a guy that we gave a pretty big bump to after his senior year because he has always been able to move really well for a kid his size … but what really stood out to me is how quickly his skills emerged. He's become reliable as a 10- to 12-foot jump shooter. He's got a little jump hook, and the production on offense that wasn't really there last spring and summer has started to come on during the high school year. I think he's got confidence now.”
Snow’s take: “Colin is a kid who can really run the court, has good hands and good shooting touch. He's physically not strong yet but he does compete. I think he has a chance to really improve as the years go along. He's going to have to get stronger and spend a lot of time in the weight room, but he's a good athlete, he can block shots, he can score inside, from the mid-range and even step out to 3. He might not be ready for big minutes right away, but I think this is a kid who down the line has a chance to be a special player.”
Brandon Johns is also proposed as a potential 4/5 combo, which would be another way for Michigan to get some stretch 5 minutes even after Wagner's departure.
But at least he made logical hires! So this guy still had a job?
Kansas football went 12-72 during Zenger’s stint as AD. They’ve lost 60 of their last 63 Big 12 games. https://t.co/eekObJ3OnF
The Nets don't have much in the way of shooting in the frontcourt and aren't really committed to any 4s or 5s long term besides promising rookie Jarrett Allen and the dead-weight contract of Timofey Mozgov.
Wagner brings floor spacing and a high-energy style of play. He was one of the breakout players of March, leading Michigan to a Big Ten title and a surprise run to the NCAA championship game.
The Raptors have traded that pick to the Nets, so that would mean Caris Levert, Nik Stauskas, and Wagner were all… uh… Nets. Since mock drafts are deadly accurate, NY-based Michigan grads should buy their season tickets now.
This is not a layup-focused point guard. IA PG DJ Carton's latest highlight video is mostly nasty contested dunks.
I preferred our previous ignorance about Crisler's scorer, because back in those innocent days I could point out that Michigan's defensive renassaince was in no small part because they were elite at forcing non-rim twos. Now I can only suspect that. Now I know that some part of that is a home scorer who thinks only uncontested dunks or layups are "at the rim."
One of the more telling sequences from Amazon’s behind-the-scenes look at Michigan’s 2017 season came during the Wolverines’ 42–13 loss at Penn State. After another failed drive, Michigan quarterback John O’Korn came to the sideline. “No blocking,” O’Korn told Harbaugh. “There’s no blocking.”
Andy Staples inserts that into a piece about Shea Patterson's attempt to save Michigan's offense. I do have an issue with Staples citing raw yards per carry numbers from Michigan's less successful outings on the ground:
Last season, they averaged 2.6 yards a carry against Michigan State, 2.5 yards a carry against Penn State, 1.5 yards a carry against Wisconsin, 2.8 yards a carry against Ohio State and 2.2 yards a carry against South Carolina. That places even more pressure on the quarterback, figuratively (because he’s expected to do it all) and literally (because blocking poorly leads to large humans in the quarterback’s face and the lack of a run game means defenses can dedicate more bodies to covering potential targets).
Once you move sacks to the correct bin, Michigan averaged 3.9, 4.3, 2.2, 4.6, and 2.9 YPC in those games, which is not good but is a considerably more accurate evaluation than sack-included numbers for the #117 pass pro team in the country.
Another thing to note on this one is the safety who eventually tackled Evans: he is rotated back by the motion and spends a second or two reading the play out before barreling downfield. That makes for a good gain instead of good blocks and three yards. The difference between that nine yard gain and this three yard one is evident:
PSU safety to top of screen
PSU also got a DT out there on a stunt, but that's just a thing that happened. It's not a trend. The trend is the safeties firing at Michigan's ground game with impunity. PSU's safety froze on the first one because he didn't know what he was looking at. Once he saw the play once he was able to fire because nobody cares about Michigan's passing game. That's a version of what happened to early Rodriguez offenses where the new stuff would work for a bit and then when the defense had seen it they curled up and died, because they could only do one thing.
Michigan's lack of a passing game stifled their run game, not vice versa. Patterson's worst case scenario is a thousand times better than what Michigan got from the spot a year ago. It'll all go to hell if Michigan can't pass protect better, but Patterson really does solve a swath of Michigan's issues just by being a proven P5 quarteback.
Speaking of. If you can stomach it, James Light highlighted a couple of Michigan's many, many missed opportnities against Ohio State:
Patterson certainly would have won that game, for one.
Can anyone catch up? A Jalen Wilson post-visit interview($) is mostly unrevealing, but he does omit UCLA as a contender and say he's going to commit before his school year starts. Wilson's visit generated a big Michigan run on the crystal ball, with both Steve Lorenz and Josh Henschke joining various others.
Wilson has as-of-yet unscheduled visits he wants to take to Baylor, Marquette, Oklahoma State, and Kansas. Hopefully those remain vague.
Pitino flips! In the media! The Washington Post has an extensive story on new IU recruit Romeo Langford's college decision featuring one Rick Pitino:
In January 2017, Pitino said, two Adidas officials met with him to discuss their efforts to keep Nike and Under Armour from landing Langford, whom Pitino was recruiting. Pitino’s account was supported by text messages he shared with The Washington Post for a previous story.
“The way they phrased it, it was [whichever shoe company] was going to pay the dad’s AAU program the most money, gets it,” Pitino said in a recent phone interview. A few days later, Adidas’s league added a new team: Twenty Two Vision, featuring Romeo Langford on the court and Tim Langford as team director. Shoe company sponsorships can reach $100,000 to $150,000, and team directors who limit expenses can pay themselves salaries from those amounts.
“That’s the way that world works,” Pitino said. “Which is completely legal, by the way.”
This space is in full heighten the contradictions mode about college basketball and welcomes any and all revelations about how ineffectual the NCAA's attempts to prevent money from flowing to folks with marketable skills are. A pissed-off Rick Pitino napalming everyone he can in the Washington Post is a boon for everyone.
I think I've waited long enough that I can post this now.
It's taken me a while to get around to tournament GIFs for a number of reasons, some NCAA-related and some not, but I finally made it through the Houston and Texas A&M games. (As per blog policy, there was no Montana game. It's just a figment of your imagination.) It'll take me a bit longer to get around to Florida State and Loyola Chicago, but I'll get to those too.
One thing I apparently won't get to: a supercut of three-pointers against Texas A&M, as this is what happened when I attempted to put that together with my normally unfailing GIF software:
In the words of the Texas twitter account: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
[Hit THE JUMP for every conceivable angle of the Poole Party, CJ Baird Tha Gawd, and much more.]
Moe Wagner has made his decision. In an article he penned for The Players' Tribune, Wagner announced he'll enter the NBA Draft and sign with an agent, foregoing his senior season at Michigan. Wagner's lengthy, heartfelt farewell (titled "Thank You, Michigan") makes it clear this wasn't an easy choice, but he has some familiar footsteps to follow:
Alle träume klingen verrückt. Bis sie wahr werden.
This is what it says on the poster that I have on my wall. I’m looking at it now, in my apartment in Ann Arbor, as I’m telling you this story. It’s German, which you probably guessed, and it means: All dreams are crazy. Until they come true. (Good saying, right?) And then beside these words is a picture of Dirk Nowitzki — who is basically my idol.
Wagner is projected as a late first- or early second-round pick, an improvement over his stock last year, when his rebounding and defensive limitations had him projected closer to the bottom of the draft. Wagner improved both this year, especially rebounding, and while his defense is still a big question mark, his offensive skill set at his size will get him a contract and a roster spot.
This is the end of Wagner's remarkable collegiate journey. He came to Ann Arbor from Germany as a lanky wing, outgrew the position almost immediately, spent his freshman year struggling to earn playing time behind Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal, and then became the key piece of John Beilein's five-out offense as a sophomore and junior. That doesn't mean we won't be seeing him around town, however.
Ann Arbor will always be the first American city that I ever really knew. In my opinion, it’s the perfect place to live — not too big, not too small. You get all four seasons, great sports, and some of the nicest and most genuine people I have met. I’ll miss Ann Arbor a ton and come back as much as I can.
Wagner's exit has significant ramifications for next year's team, of course, and we'll dig into those in greater detail this week. Jon Teske is now your surefire starting center next year, which will make Michigan a more defensive-focused team (with a greater defensive ceiling) but he'll be an offensive downgrade barring a breakout on that end—while he improved greatly at the pick-and-roll, he doesn't provide the same pick-and-pop, spead-the-defense threat. Austin Davis is most likely to settle into the backup role while talented freshman Colin Castleton—a Wagner-like player with plus rim protection—gets used to the system and adds some needed bulk.