When Moritz Wagner made the move from Germany to Michigan, he made sure to bring his cherished poster of countryman Dirk Nowitzki.
Now Wagner will be packing it up and taking it with him to Los Angeles after being selected with the No. 25 overall pick by the Lakers in Thursday’s NBA Draft at the Barclays Center.
"It's a lot of hard work, a lot people that help you out to get to this point," Wagner said on the ESPN broadcast after being drafted. "I'm so incredibly grateful to be here. I'm speechless, truly speechless."
Wagner, who was projected to be a fringe first-round pick, became the ninth Wolverine to be selected in the NBA Draft since 2011 under coach John Beilein, joining Darius Morris (2011), Trey Burke (2013), Tim Hardaway Jr. (2013), Nik Stauskas (2014), Mitch McGary (2014), Glenn Robinson III (2014), Caris LeVert (2016) and D.J. Wilson (2017).
He also became the seventh first-round pick since 2013 under Beilein and 27th in program history.
"Coach Beilein helped me out so much. The whole staff, they're all here. They support me so much," said Wagner, who had a block 'M' and a logo of Alba Berlin, his former team in Germany, lining the inside of his suit jacket.
"I'm so grateful to have all these great people around me. Without them, I couldn't do this. It means so much to me."
Wagner, a 6-foot-11 big man, starred during his junior season and left his mark by leading the Wolverines to one of their most successful seasons in program history, highlighted by a single-season program record 33 wins, the Big Ten tournament title and Michigan’s seventh national championship game appearance.
He started 39 games, scored in double figures 31 times, recorded eight double-doubles, and averaged team-highs in scoring (14.6 points), rebounding (7.1) and 3-point shooting (39.4 percent). His 278 total rebounds were the most by a Wolverine in 20 seasons and his 63 made 3-pointers were the most by any player 6-10 or taller in the nation.
Wagner also elevated his game throughout Michigan’s postseason run, where he was named Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten tournament and was selected to the West Region and Final Four All-Tournament teams in the NCAA Tournament.
It put a stamp on his three-year career at Michigan, where he helped the Wolverines to an 82-33 record, three straight NCAA Tournaments and back-to-back conference tournament titles all while serving as an emotional leader who frustrated opposing defenses with his long-range shooting ability.
"He's very skilled. He's a big guy that can step away and shoot. He's among the best shooting big men in the draft," ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said. "I would say Michael Porter Jr. would be No. 1. I would put Omari Spellman of Villanova up there and then I would put Moe Wagner up there, as well."
While there’s no doubt Wagner’s offensive skill set and pick-and-pop prowess will translate to the NBA, there are questions about his defense in an age where today’s big men are able to protect the rim, switch in pick-and-roll situations out on the perimeter and defend in space.
Regardless, Wagner has the attitude and moxie to fit in on a young, hungry Lakers team that has been assembled by general manager Rob Pelinka, who played for Michigan's 1989 national championship team as well as the 1992 and 1993 national runner-up squads.
"He's mobile, crafty, fundamentally sound," Bilas said. "Not a great athlete, but he does a solid job (on the glass). He's not a great rebounder, but he blocks out every time and that sort of goes with the fundamentally sound nature.
"He can stretch you a little bit and make an open 3, he can put the ball on the deck and he's a good passer. He's gotten better year after year after year at Michigan."
And after waiting over two hours to find out his next destination, Wagner will head West with the hopes of continuing his upward trajectory on his well-traveled journey to the NBA.
"I'm just going to give it all, 100 percent every day. That's all that matters," Wagner said. "I love basketball and whatever happens, happens, but I'm going to love it and I'm going to leave it all out there."