The Big House Report has teamed up with former Michigan basketball player Anthony Wright in the past. This time around, we’re talking about Caris LeVert’s decision to stay, leaving early for the draft and one-and-done programs. Check out our Q&A below.
TBHR: We now know that Caris LeVert is staying for his senior year. Did you expect him to jump to the NBA?
Anthony Wright: Personally I thought he was gone, and if he remained healthy throughout the season, I think he would’ve departed. Everyone’s mindset is different when it comes to that decision, and I don’t think he felt right leaving for the NBA projected in a gray area of the draft (late 1st and early 2nd) in addition to losses to NJIT and EMU at home and a season-ending injury at the beginning of league play.
TBHR: How do you convince a guy to stay in school when he knows he could leave, play professionally and make millions, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, right away?
AW: You can’t and shouldn’t convince anyone to stay. If someone’s heart is elsewhere, let them go. If they stay, they wouldn’t be 100% invested. If something goes wrong or they hit their first taste of adversity, the initial thought is, “Why am I even here?” You wouldn’t want someone like that on the team. They’ll tear the team apart from this inside out.
TBHR: You were with John Beilein for a few years. Is he the type of coach who’s going to get heavily involved in the decision, or does he stand off to the side?
AW: He’s a great coach, and he knows what’s up. His teams at West Virginia, Richmond, etc. were led by juniors and seniors who really played hard and really knew how to play together. It has been much different now since he has been a huge victim of his own success. Guys are coming in and playing two years or so, and then leaving. A lot of these players were 3-star and a couple of late-bloomer 4-star recruits. That’s a testament to his basketball product as well, and he wants what’s best for his players he helped get to that level.
I’m sure since I’ve left, he’s had more experience with dealing with the NBA draft (Morris, Hardaway, Burke, Stauskas, Mitch, GRIII). He’s very honest, and I’d say he is very neutral about the process and brutally honest on what the player can expect moving forward, laying out different scenarios. He also encourages players to go through the NBA Advisory Committee evaluation process. He wants players to get as much information as possible before making a life changing decision.
TBHR: Everyone always says they’re making this decision because it’s in the best interest of them and their family. Do you see that to be legitimate, or is it just a formality?
AW: That’s just a formality. Honestly when someone says that, equate that to the postgame “we came together as a team” cliché speech. That’s also a great line to avoid specific questions of their reasoning for leaving. That would gear questions towards what happens next and not why it happened.
TBHR: Do you have a problem with one-and-done programs like Kentucky?
AW: NOT. AT. ALL.
Every coach operates their programs differently. I actually like watching the seasoned older teams against the talented younger teams. Wisconsin was the mature team and knocked off talented Kentucky, and then lost to Duke who have a few one-and-done’s, but the kid Grayson Allen who bailed Duke out is more than likely a three- or four-year player.
The real problem I have an issue with are these early transfers. Freshmen transferring after the fall semester or after their first year is sickening. That’s what the recruiting process is for. Kids are so coddled today and flee at the first hint of adversity. I don’t blame the kids, it’s their family members and the adults they choose to surround themselves with.
TBHR: What would be your No. 1 piece of advice for someone coming to you asking if they should leave early for the NBA?
AW: I wouldn’t give advice. I would ask them how they came to that decision and why they feel they need to go. Too many times a player comes into college with his mind made that he’s leaving to go pro no matter how the year goes after one year. Doesn’t help when their camp/inner circle are in their heads throughout the year.
A couple years ago, Daniel Orton averaged 3 points and 2 rebounds. Do you think he really thought hard about that decision? This year, you have Cliff Alexander who had a pedestrian year for Kansas averaging 7 points and 5 rebounds over 28 games, had some NCAA issues, and is going into the draft. Chris McCullough from Syracuse tore his ACL 16 games into the season, averaging 9 points and under 7 rebounds per game, and has declared for the draft. A lot of kids are rushing their decision and see going pro as their only option.
Kids declare for the NBA every year. More like 30% declare for the NBA, the other 70% declare for Europe.
Tyler Fenwick is the managing editor of The Big House Report. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.