Early departures have become a common occurrence at Michigan.
This year will be no different. It’s just a matter of how many Wolverines will be leaving.
Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis and sophomore guard Jordan Poole are among the trio that declared for the NBA draft last week.
But when it comes to who’s going to stay and who’s going to go, it’s still too early to say.
“That's the big question,” Michigan coach John Beilein said when asked the odds Brazdeikis and Poole return on WBBL’s “The Huge Show” on Tuesday. “I think we'll know more as we gain more information. They got their NBA advisory (feedback) back and now they're going to test the waters. We'll find out more here — it could be in the weeks to come, it could be in a month. It's a difficult dance we have to do now.
“These two, we're just going to try to guide them the best we can, help them make an educated decision and then react accordingly. We don't know those odds just yet.”
Redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews also declared for the draft and Beilein reiterated he didn’t anticipate him returning next season.
“We did expect Charles to graduate, so we expected that with him,” Beilein said. “That's why we signed over by one (scholarship for 2019-20). He and I talked about it ahead of time and that was the right thing to do.”
Underclassmen are allowed to participate in workouts and interviews during the pre-draft process, and they have until May 29 to withdraw their name from draft consideration and retain their eligibility.
That deadline comes 10 days after the conclusion of the NBA combine, the invitation-only event that will run May 14-19 in Chicago. Last year, 69 players attended the combine.
“If you're not invited to that, that's a pretty good indication of where you are,” Beilein said. “If you are, then you have to wade through that. It's not easier right now than it's been. The kids have all the way until the end of May and you've got to replace them. Not too many 2019 (recruits) are going to wait until the end of May, so it's very difficult and we've got to do our best to find ways to navigate it."
With Matthews’ expected departure and two incoming freshmen in Jalen Wilson and Cole Bajema, Michigan would be at the maximum of 13 allotted scholarships for next season barring any additional attrition.
Yet, Beilein said he has stayed busy recruiting and has “moveable plans” in place with the possibility that Brazdeikis and Poole could leave.
“You've got to be flexible,” Beilein said. “You handle it the best you can. …The month of April and May is a really interesting time of people trying to keep their programs going in good directions.”
Of course, Beilein has gone through this process plenty of times before. Michigan has sent eight players to the NBA as early entrants since 2011, including each of the last two seasons with Moritz Wagner and D.J. Wilson.
Beilein said he tends to let the NBA information do the talking, citing the written reports the players receive from the NBA's Undergraduate Advisory Committee where they can see the odds of where they’ll be drafted and the salaries for each slot in the two rounds.
But Beilein noted when he does have discussions with players, he’ll bring up former Wolverines like Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas and Wilson. Burke considered leaving after his freshman year but returned to become national player of the year and a top-10 pick. Stauskas wasn’t in the NBA conversation as a freshman and turned into a lottery pick as a sophomore. Wilson went from playing a limited role his first two seasons to becoming a top-20 pick.
“All I know is that every kid who goes to college right now is living a life that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Beilein said. “All the money in the world can't buy what you experience when you're in college, whether it's one, two, three or four years. That's one very important element and everybody can't forget about it.
“But at the same time, you don't know the economic needs or desires and you do not want a guy back that all he cares about is, ‘Get me to the league.’ Those coaches are getting fired like crazy. Those programs are not making the NCAA Tournament. You can see a lot of dysfunction even in pro teams about culture. You can't let anything get in the way of your culture."
Michigan is in the running to land one of the most sought-after grad transfers on the market in William & Mary forward Justin Pierce.
Pierce will reportedly take an official visit to Ann Arbor this weekend and has Michigan listed in his final three along with Notre Dame and North Carolina.
“The thing I like about Michigan is their track record with guys like me,” Pierce told 247Sports. “They’ve put a lot of guys in the NBA and overseas with guys with my skill set. Guys like me seem to thrive there.”
Pierce (6-foot-7, 215 pounds) earned All-Colonial Athletic Association third team honors for the second straight year after averaging 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists and shooting 46.4 percent from the field (32.4 percent on 3-pointers) in 28 games this past season.
… IMG Academy four-star guard Lester Quinones tweeted he’ll take an official visit to Michigan on April 29-30 and is reportedly down to five schools: Indiana, LSU, Maryland, Memphis and Michigan.
Quinones (6-5, 180) is ranked the No. 65 prospect in the nation and is rated the eighth-best uncommitted recruit in the class of 2019, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.