Michigan's Ignas Brazdeikis says he's staying in NBA Draft

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

When Ignas Brazdeikis first jumped in the draft waters last month, he planned to stay in a while.

Now he has no intentions of getting out.

Michigan forward Ignas Brazdeikis (13) is keeping his name in the NBA Draft.

Brazdeikis announced Tuesday on Twitter that he will keep his name in the NBA Draft and forgo his final three seasons of eligibility.

“I would like to begin by thanking the best fans in the world, the Maize Rage and everyone in the University of Michigan community,” Brazdeikis tweeted. “There is nothing better than playing in the Crisler Center and it will forever be close to my heart. From the money signs to the dunks and the unforgettable wins, I will forever cherish those moments.

“To Coach Beilein and the rest of the coaching staff who brought me in and gave me the opportunity to play for the best university in the world, I will always be in debt to them. They taught me so many skills on and off the court that I will have for the rest of my life.

“I am ready for the next level, and I’m excited to begin this new journey in my life. I would love for everyone who has followed me thus far to continue to support me throughout my career.”

Brazdeikis earned Big Ten freshman of the year and all-conference second team honors this past season after averaging a team-high 14.8 points and starting all 37 games. He also shot 39.2 percent from 3-point range and scored at least 20 points 10 times.

Brazdeikis was the first freshman to lead the Wolverines in scoring since Trey Burke in 2011-12 and is the first one-and-done player during former coach John Beilein’s 12-year tenure.

"The coaches have done a great job. They've had so many draft picks in the past 10 years, it's incredible,” Brazdeikis said last week at the NBA Draft Combine. “I think with the system they have with the fundamentals they teach combined with the readiness I had already coming in, a combination of everything I felt like this I was ready for this step.”

Brazdeikis is listed as the No. 46 draft prospect in ESPN’s top 100 rankings and is projected to be a mid-second-round pick (No. 40 overall) in ESPN’s most recent two-round mock draft. He’s also predicted to be late second-round pick by NBADraft.net (No. 49) and Sports Illustrated (No. 54).

ESPN draft expert Mike Schmitz said Brazdeikis is likely to be a mid-second-round selection but has to the potential to move up into the 30s.

Brazdeikis said he seems himself playing the three in the NBA, but believes he’s quick and versatile enough to also play the two and four spots at the next level.

"I think I bring my confident self everywhere I go. I'm not going to shy away from any moment,” he said. “I think I'm the best player on the court everywhere I step on and that won't change. I think I could be an impact player, but I feel like I adapt very well. I'm an adaptive person so whatever the team needs me to do I will do 100 percent."

Brazdeikis joins Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole as former Wolverines who will hope to hear their names called in the June 20 draft. He added Beilein's departure to become head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers factored into his decision.

“It's been my dream to play in the NBA and I think put myself in a great position to do that,” Brazdeikis said. “Now seeing Coach Beilein leaving to the NBA, it's kind of me, Charles, Jordan, Coach Beilein — it feels like we took that step together. It's a good family feeling in a way.”

Brazdeikis’ exit means Michigan will lose its top three leading scorers and will have at least two available scholarships for the 2019-20 season. That number will increase to three if former signee Jalen Wilson ends up going elsewhere.


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins