In the past two seasons, Michigan has seen Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III all depart for the NBA Draft with eligibility remaining.
While that’s good for the public perception of the program, it’s not necessarily a good thing for the program itself. It’s really hard for a team to win when the stars of three recruiting classes are playing in the NBA, not in the Big Ten.
Enter Caris LeVert. A little-known recruit coming out of high school, LeVert was one of the best players on the Wolverines this past season, morphing into a guy who will find his name on preseason all-america teams and who will be the centerpiece for a Michigan team that is now expected to compete for Big Ten titles every year.
Back in May, LeVert underwent surgery on his ankle, and while he’s made his way back to the court in preparation for the team’s trip to Italy, LeVert is not yet at 100%.
“Caris started playing last week, but he’s not himself yet,” head coach John Beilein said in a Wednesday press conference. “As you can imagine, he was pretty much dormant for 16 weeks and so you’ll see some of those flashes today. It’s just a matter of him getting back in game shape.”
As a sophomore, LeVert averaged 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting 40.8% from three. There were times last season where he was Michigan’s best player, and while he’s not quite the playmaker that Stauskas and Burke were, he is a 6-foot-6 guard that can handle the ball in the pick-and-roll while taking games over.
He’ll share the back court with returnees Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin as well as Kameron Chatman, who headlines Beilein’s six-man recruiting class. That is an impressive group, but with holes along their front line, Michigan will be counting LeVert to be a star this season.
The season kicks off in three months, as Michigan hosts Bucknell on Nov. 17th.