Michigan’s Moritz Wagner, D.J. Wilson unsure about NBA

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Oregon forward Jordan Bell (1) guards Michigan forward Moritz Wagner (13) in the first half.

Kansas City, Mo.— Moritz Wagner and D.J. Wilson stood lockers apart, talking in low, somber voices.

Dejected and crushed following Michigan’s season-ending 69-68 loss to Oregon in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night, the two fielded questions about Derrick Walton Jr.’s last-second shot and the final minutes of the game.

And when the topic turned to the future, neither revealed what they had planned.

Wagner, a sophomore center, and Wilson, a redshirt sophomore forward, have shot up NBA Draft board projections over the past month and improved their stock during Michigan’s postseason run. The NCAA allows underclassmen to declare for the NBA Draft, test the waters if invited to the NBA Combine and then retain their eligibility if they decide to return to college, so long as they don’t hire an agent.

“I haven’t really thought about anything right now, I’ve just been focused on us,” Wilson said.

When asked if he had a timeline, Wilson reiterated he hasn’t given “anything much thought.”

Like Wilson, Wagner said he hasn’t considered his next move yet and didn’t see any reason to “have that in the back of my head at all.”

“I haven’t really thought about that. I don’t really see a decision, either,” Wagner said. “All I’m worried about is my seniors, my teammates and all the staff. That’s the beauty of the offseason, it’s far away still. Right now, I’m just going to reflect on this season for a week.”

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Wilson scored in double figures in six of the final seven games, highlighted by his 26-point performance in Michigan’s upset victory over Purdue in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals. He averaged 15.6 points on 53.8-percent shooting, five rebounds and two blocks during the postseason.

“(Wilson’s) growth has been unimaginable a little bit based on here’s a guy for two years has either been injured or was just in the games trying to get in the game and all of a sudden he’s starting for us and then all of a sudden he’s playing the way he did,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “I think this will be such a great catalyst for him going into next year. He’ll take this, he’ll learn so much from how hard work pays off and that he’s got more to work on.”

Oregon forward Jordan Bell (1) chases Michigan forward D.J. Wilson (5) in the second half.

Wagner averaged 10.6 points on 50.9-percent shooting and 3.3 rebounds in the postseason. He starred in Michigan’s second-round win over Louisville with a career-high 26 points.

“He has continued to learn with every part of the game,” Beilein said of Wagner. “He’s so talented but as he continues to learn, there’s certain areas he’s just got to really work on and he will. It’s a work in progress and he’s a tremendous student of the game.

“He’s a great, great canvas and he’s going to be able to paint that canvas with anything he wants to do as he goes forward. He’s really going to be great to work with.”

Underclassmen have until April 23 to enter the NBA Draft. Under new rules implemented last year, players are allowed to enter the draft multiple times and participate in the Combine and one NBA team tryout per year.

Players have until 10 days after the Combine, which will take place May 9-14 in Chicago, to remove their name from draft consideration and maintain their college eligibility.