UM’s Wilson, Wagner enter NBA draft, don’t hire agents

James Hawkins, The Detroit News

Michigan big men D.J. Wilson and Moritz Wagner are going to test the NBA draft waters.

Wilson, a 6-foot-10 forward, and Wagner, a 6-foot-11 center, announced Monday they are entering their names in the draft but neither will hire an agent, which gives them the option to withdraw and return to Michigan for their junior seasons.

The duo broke the news on Twitter just minutes apart.

“I give glory to God each and everyday for allowing me to be a part of the University of Michigan and our basketball program,” Wilson wrote. “With that being said, after discussing it with my family and coaches, I will be entering my name into the NBA draft without hiring an agent. Thank you all for your continued support & Go Blue!”

“I appreciate all of the support I continue to receive at the University of Michigan,” Wagner wrote. “After talking with the coaches and my family, I have decided to enter my name to the NBA draft without hiring an agent. Dankeschon for all! Go Blue!”

It’s not a surprising move given the new NCAA rules that were implemented last season allow underclassmen to enter the draft multiple times and participate in the NBA Combine and one NBA team tryout per year.

Experts: Michigan's Wagner, Wilson not ready for NBA

Wilson and Wagner drew plenty of NBA buzz during Michigan’s postseason run and could garner an invitation to the Combine, which will be held May 9-14 in Chicago. They will have until May 24 to remove their name from draft consideration and maintain their amateur status, if they choose to do so.

This past season, Wilson and Wagner each took a major step in their first year as full-time starters at Michigan. Wagner started all 38 games and averaged 12.1 points on 56 percent shooting, 4.2 rebounds and one steal in 23.9 minutes per game, while Wilson made 36 starts and averaged 11 points on 53.8 percent shooting, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 30.4 minutes.

Most notable of Wilson and Wagner’s skill set is their ability to stretch the floor. Wagner shot 39.5 percent (45-for-114) from 3-point range and Wilson shot 37.3 percent (41-for-110).

The frontcourt tandem had several big moments during the postseason. Wilson had a 26-point outburst against Purdue in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals, a 19-point performance against Louisville in the second round and clutch free throws in the final seconds to secure both of Michigan’s NCAA Tournament wins. Wagner scored 14 first-half points against Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament semifinals and poured in a career-high 26 points against Louisville.

While Wilson and Wagner are both intriguing prospects, they will have to answer questions about their inconsistency, rebounding and defense.

ESPN’s Chad Ford lists Wagner as the No. 25 overall pick in June’s draft and No. 24 in his top 100 draft prospects. 

“Wagner had his coming-out party against Louisville in the NCAA Tournament,” Ford wrote. “He had an up-and-down sophomore year, but he ticks a lot of boxes for NBA scouts. He's a fluid athlete who can really shoot the ball. He also has playmaking abilities and shows toughness in the paint. Plus, he's still only 19 years old. He'll likely go somewhere between Nos. 18-25 if he stays in the draft.”

Ford didn’t have Wilson listed in his most recent mock draft but ranked him No. 30 in his top 100 prospect list.

“Wilson has the tools NBA teams look for in a modern NBA four. He's long, bouncy and an above-average rim protector,” Ford wrote. “He can also shoot the 3. His lack of toughness and his so-so rebounding numbers are the major issues holding his draft stock down at the moment. He should be drafted somewhere between No. 20 and No. 35.”

However, projections have varied on both prospects. DraftExpress.com doesn’t have neither player projected to be selected in the 2017 draft, but it ranks Wilson as the No. 34 prospect and No. 16 pick in the 2018 draft.

ESPN basketball analyst and former NBA player Tim McCormick told The News last week he wasn’t surprised how Wilson’s and Wagner’s stock soared in March but said both players are unfinished products who aren’t ready for the next level yet.

“They (Wagner and Wilson) have really good talent. I would not think it's a bad idea to go put your name in and go to the draft combine and test yourself out,” McCormick said. “That's just good information, that's a great experience. That'll make them better and if they find out they're going to be top-20 picks, then go for it. But I don't see it at this point.”

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

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