Michigan big man Jon Teske pins hopes to NBA career

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Three consecutive trips to the Sweet 16. Two Big Ten tournament titles. A trip to the national title game. A program-record 108 career wins.

Jon Teske checked plenty of accomplishments off the list during his four years at Michigan. And now that his run in Ann Arbor is over, he has his sights set on something bigger.

Jon Teske (15) averaged 11.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks over 31 games this past season.

"My next goal is to make the NBA,” Teske told host Matt Shepard on WBBL radio Friday. “Right now, I'm going through the process of signing an agent and working through that with the help of Coach (Juwan) Howard and my parents.

“I’m working out and we all have to stay healthy. That's first and foremost, and then go from there. I’m not really sure what will happen if the (NBA) season starts back up, but I've just got to take it one day at a time and stay ready.”

Teske’s name hasn’t appeared in recent two-round mock drafts by major outlets. He’s listed as the No. 16 center and No. 88 overall draft prospect in ESPN’s Top 100 NBA Draft rankings.

Teske took on a larger offensive role under Howard and averaged a career-high 11.6 points to go along with 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. He led the team in scoring five times and recorded three double-doubles, with all three coming over the first month of the season.

However, Teske hit a shooting funk and struggled down the stretch. He averaged 7.8 points and made at least half his field-goal attempts just twice in the final 10 games. With the coronavirus pandemic cutting the postseason short, he didn’t get a chance to turn things around and garner some attention on the big stage.

Yet, Teske hopes the different ways he was utilized in former coach John Beilein’s and Howard’s systems will help his case. He played more out on the perimeter — near the elbow and 3-point area — under Beilein and more on the block under Howard.

“I had to get back to being more comfortable with playing with my back to the basket (this season),” Teske said. “I did that a lot in high school and I'm a capable shooter, so just find the right spot to pick-and-pop or set a screen and dive. The first possession would always go through me and if I didn't have anything, I'd kick it back out for a 3 or something like that. It was different at first, but I got more comfortable with that."

Even though Teske’s shooting numbers dipped — he shot 47.8% from the field and 24.6% from 3-point range — he was still one of the most productive roll men in Division I and finished No. 4 in the nation in roll man scoring at 4.1 points per game, per Synergy.

Teske feels he’s a good passer for his 7-foot-1 size and has a high IQ. He has proven to be durable and played in every game since his sophomore season, a feat he attributed to “living right off the court.”

He also thinks he has shown he can “play a little bit of everywhere,” which has been a growing trend for big men in today’s NBA.

"You've got to be able to play both inside and outside, especially now. You've got to be able to shoot the 3 with how the game is changing,” Teske said. “Everything is spreading the floor and getting into the lane and getting layups, dunks or shooting the 3 ball.

"As a big man, you're either stuck in the middle or you're able to shoot the ball outside. I think with my ability to shoot inside and outside will really help me. I think for some players it's just one or the other."

Teske said he has been taking some time off and relaxing before he gets back into the grind of preparing for the draft.

While it’s unclear how limited the pre-draft process will be due to the health crisis, Teske still plans to reach out to former teammates Ignas Brazdeikis, Jordan Poole and Moritz Wagner to get an idea about what to expect.

“If anything comes up or I need advice, they're more than willing to talk to me,” Teske said. “I'm thankful that we have a brotherhood like that where we're able to talk and they're able to help me through times like this.”


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins