Michigan's Brazdeikis, Poole still in wait-and-see mode for NBA draft

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Ignas Brazdeikis

Ann Arbor — Redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews has already shut the door on the possibility of him returning to Michigan next season.

But freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis and sophomore guard Jordan Poole? They’re not ready to do that just yet.

Before the team’s awards banquet at Crisler Center on Wednesday, Brazdeikis and Poole both said they haven’t made up their minds on whether they’ll head to the NBA and will weigh all their options as the pre-draft process unfolds over the next month.

“There's definitely a process behind this. There's still a lot of time,” Brazdeikis said. “We've got the (NBA) combine still to go and there's a lot of different variables that will play into it.

“I'm excited for this process. This is big time. This is what everyone dreams about, to play in the NBA. That's been my goal for a very long time, but I have not come to any conclusions yet."

Under new rules, underclassmen are allowed to sign with certified agents and Brazdeikis has already signed with YouFirst Sports.

College players will have until May 29 to sever ties with any representation and return to school with their eligibility intact. Brazdeikis said he doesn’t expect to announce his final decision until sometime after the NBA combine, which will run May 14-19 in Chicago.

"I felt like I had a good season and the opportunity to (declare) this year with the rules, I felt like I should take full opportunity of that,” Brazdeikis said. “I feel like just getting in that mix and seeing what I can do will only benefit me.”

Brazdeikis, who led Michigan in scoring (14.8 points) and ranked second on the team in 3-point shooting (39.2 percent), is projected to be a mid-second-round pick by ESPN (No. 40 overall) and a late second-rounder by Sports Illustrated (No. 54 overall).

Brazdeikis said he’s already received some feedback from the NBA  “It was good,” he noted  and added he’ll have to prove in workouts he has the decision-making and maturity to play at the next level.

However, Brazdeikis isn’t sure what he’ll do if no NBA team views him as a first-round pick.

“Definitely I want to be as high as I can in the draft. I want to be in the best position I can be,” Brazdeikis said. “I'm going to make the best decision for myself and I don't feel like I'm in no rush to do anything right now. I'm just going to make the right decision and we'll see how it goes."

Poole, on the other hand, isn’t as far along as Brazdeikis in the pre-draft process and has yet to hire an agent.

However, Poole said he knew once the season ended he was going to test the draft waters and believes he’s a pro right now.

"That's just me personally,” Poole said. “I feel like my confidence is already through the roof. You could've asked me freshman year if I think I'm a pro and I would've said the same thing."

Poole also thinks he has shown it. He pointed to a 10-game stretch from late November into early January when he averaged 17.2 points and shot 54.4 percent from 3-point range. The stretch featured an 18-point outing against North Carolina, a 21-point performance against Purdue and a 26-point outburst against South Carolina.

“I definitely feel like I would like to be more in a situation where I was able just to come off more ball screens, have the ball in my hand more,” Poole said. “But that 10-game stretch that I had. … I think I really showed a lot, all aspects of my game. I feel like that is what put me on the map and I was able to show everything within those 10 games.

“Obviously things change, scouting reports change and you change the offense, but through those 10 games I feel like I showed enough to show that I'm a pro.”

For the season, Poole averaged 12.8 points, three rebounds and 2.2 assists in 33.1 minutes over 37 games in his first year as a full-time starter. He also shot 36.9 percent from 3-point range  42.2 percent in nonconference games and 32.7 percent in Big Ten contests  and made a team-high 75 3-pointers.

Like Brazdeikis, Poole is projected as a late second-round pick by Sports Illustrated (No. 51 overall) and doesn't plan to rush things as he gathers NBA feedback.

"I'm just trying to get my body right and just working at getting back to my individual game,” Poole said. “I'll pan out everything down the road.”

2019 Michigan Basketball Awards

►Bill Buntin Most Valuable Player: Zavier Simpson

►Wayman Britt Outstanding Defensive Player: Charles Matthews

►Travis Conlan Sportsmanship Award: Isaiah Livers

►Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player: Jon Teske

►Sixth Man Award: Isaiah Livers

►Steve Grote Hustle Award: Zavier Simpson

►Thad Garner Leadership Award: Charles Matthews

►Iron Man Award: Ignas Brazdeikis

►Award for Outstanding Free Throw Shooting: Jordan Poole

►Morgan/Bodnar Brothers Award for Academic Achievement: Austin Davis & Rico Ozuna-Harrison

►Gary Grant Award for Most Assists: Zavier Simpson

►Loy Vaught Rebounding Award: Jon Teske


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins