NCAA Final Four Michigan Louisville Basketball

Tim Hardaway Jr. says Caris LeVert is Michigan’s X-factor

Leave a comment

Tim Hardaway Jr. along with National Player of the Year Trey Burke are leaving the national champion finalist for the NBA. Though Hardaway is already making predictions for next season in Ann Arbor. In a podcast with ESPN’s Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg, the former Wolverine shooting guard believes that one of Michigan’s freshmen from this past season will be the team’s X-factor.

It’s not Mitch McGary after his emergence in the NCAA tournament, nor is it two of Michigan’s returning starters — Glenn Robinson III or Nik Stauskas. It also isn’t the national title game’s first half hero Spike Albrecht.

It’s Caris LeVert.

“The guy people are sleeping on is Caris LeVert,” Hardaway told Katz and Greenberg.

“He’s going to be an athletic, defensive guy who can grab rebounds, push it on the break and hit that wide-open three, Hardaway added. “He’s going to be the X-factor for the Wolverines next year.”

Hardaway mentioned that LeVert is now standing at around 6-foot-7 and could reach 6-foot-8 when it’s all said and done. LeVert entered Ann Arbor standing at 6-foot-5, weighing 165 pounds. He has add 20 pounds to go along with the two inches.

Hardaway might be making too much of a bold prediction here. LeVert was expected to redshirt this season, but after six games had finally worked his way onto the floor in a win over Bradley. He’s proven to be a gym rat, given his commitment to the weight room and his late-night shooting sessions.

LeVert also had some big-time contributions off the bench in important games this season for John Beilein. He played 30 minutes, scoring eight points and recorded two steals in a one-point win over Michigan State.

Then in the Final Four win against Syracuse, LeVert had eight points in 21 minutes of action. He buried two 3-points in the first half while Burke and Stauskas combined for 1-for-8 from behind the arc in the national semifinal.

LeVert averaged 2.3 points and 1.1 rebounds per game in his first year. LeVert joins his fellow four freshmen next season along with , Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford. Beilein adds a three-person incoming freshman class of point guard Derrick Walton as well as forwards Zak Irvin and Mark Donnal.

“When I left, I was like ‘hey, it’s your time now, young fella,’ ” Hardaway told LeVert.

[h/t MLive.com]

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
Leave a comment

Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Leave a comment

Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: