After a month of waiting, Michigan guard Caris LeVert has decided to stick with the Wolverines for his senior season, forgoing the NBA Draft.
“Over the past few months, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my future,” LeVert said in a released statement. “My family and I, along with the coaching staff gathered as much information as possible. After considering my options, I am excited to announce I will return for my senior year. Coming back allows me to keep working towards my Michigan degree and take the next steps in my development as a player, teammate and a leader of our program. Michigan is a very special place and the college experience only comes once. The future is bright and I am blessed to be part of it.”
Michigan doesn’t become an automatic contender with this decision, but getting back to what the program had only two seasons ago doesn’t seem like that far of a stretch anymore.
The only player Michigan loses from last season is Max Bielfeldt. The Wolverines struggled mightily at times after LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. were lost for the season in January, but there were signs of tremendous things to come from the younger roster.
True freshmen Aubrey Dawkins, Ricky Doyle, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Kameron Chatman combined for 21.2 points per game, each playing better than 15 minutes a game.
It was a lost season in the sense that the Wolverines didn’t make the NCAA Tournament and finished 16-16, but it was a season of significance when considering the amount of invaluable experience young players were forced to pick up along the way.
LeVert’s return to Michigan means the Wolverines are going to field a four- or five-headed monster every game, depending on how you view a few players.
Zak Irvin as a sophomore was forced to add a different dimension to his game without LeVert and Walton by his side. He learned to drive (sort of) and use the shot fake (sort of). He’s an impact player who could make the next jump and become a star. He ate up 1,160 minutes last season, 169 more than the next best, Spike Albrecht, who played 991 minutes in one less game. Irvin was the horse of the team last season—he had to be—and that’s going to pay off for him.
Walton has been able to creep behind the large shadow of LeVert for the most part, but after missing about half of last season, don’t forget what he brings to the table. He and Albrecht are a dynamic one-two punch at point guard. Both are creative for themselves and others, and being able to always have a fresh pair of legs to run the show isn’t a luxury most teams have.
Your everyday starting lineup could look something like this:
• G — Derrick Walton Jr.
• G — Caris LeVert
• G — Zak Irvin
• G — Aubrey Dawkins
• F — Ricky Doyle
Sure, it’s small. But hey, this is a John Beilein team after all.
And that’s not even considering recruiting. Who does that leave on the bench? Spike Albrecht, MAAR, Kameron Chatman, D.J. Wilson. Even Mark Donnal is a guy who could draw a lot of attention next season.
Reinstating Caris LeVert back into this Michigan lineup makes this a very dangerous team, a team that looks like it could do some special things.
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of The Big House Report. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.