Michigan’s 2011-12 prospects just took a hit.
Sophomore point guard Darius Morris will stay in the NBA draft, according to a report from Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com. (He’s in Las Vegas right now, preparing for individual workouts.)
UPDATE: Michigan made it official on Tuesday. Here’s the release.
“There have been long discussions with my family, friends and my Michigan coaches,” Morris said in a statement. “After gathering all the information possible, I have decided to stay in the NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball.
“This was a difficult decision; however, in the end I decided to go with my heart. Playing professional basketball has always been a dream for me. I feel this is the right time for me to pursue that goal. It will be hard to leave the University of Michigan; however, I truly believe the basketball program is moving in a very positive direction.
“First of all I want to thank everyone at the University of Michigan and all its great fans. I would not be in the position I am today without the guidance of Coach (John) Beilein and his staff. I appreciate all the support I have received from all my teammates and everyone involved with the program. I will forever be a Michigan Wolverine. Lastly, and most importantly, I must thank God for blessing me with this opportunity.”
He’s a potential first-round pick, according to DraftExpress’ latest mock.
That decision takes the Wolverines from a potential top 10 team to a solid Top 25 spot that’ll have the occasional hiccup without their floor leader.
Morris was the critical player to the Wolverines’ 21-14 season that included an NCAA tournament win and a near-victory against Duke. He’s got the size (6-4) and court vision (a 44.2 aRate) that’ll impress NBA teams, as well as the ability to create his own shot.
Michigan could still win the Big Ten, too. Center Jordan Morgan and shooting Tim Hardaway Jr. are NBA-caliber talents, which incoming recruits Carlton Brundidge and Trey Burke should provide John Beilein options at guard. Burke could end up starting.
But the odds of either ensuring the Wolverines don’t miss a beat is slim.
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