Michigan's Caris LeVert out for season because of ailing leg

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) After two months of uncertainty over Caris LeVert's status, Michigan made it official: The senior standout will miss the rest of the season.

LeVert has been ruled out because of a lower left leg injury. The 6-foot-7 guard played only once over the past two months, and the Wolverines will have to compete for an NCAA Tournament spot without him.

''After some prayer and talking it over with my family, Coach (John) Beilein and the medical staff, we all feel it is best for me to concentrate on getting fully healthy,'' LeVert said in a statement Tuesday. ''There is still some discomfort that does not allow me to help this team the way I want.''

Michigan sits on the NCAA bubble. The Wolverines (20-10, 10-7 Big Ten) host No. 16 Iowa on Saturday in their regular-season finale.

Michigan came into this season with high hopes, in part because there wasn't as much roster turnover as in years past, when the Wolverines routinely lost key players to the NBA. LeVert and Spike Albrecht were supposed to lead the team as seniors, but Albrecht played only eight games following hip surgery, and he announced in December his season was over.

LeVert has been sidelined since the start of January, with the exception of one 11-minute appearance against Purdue on Feb. 13, when he went scoreless.

''This has been a tough two months for Caris,'' Beilein said. ''He has worked so hard to get back to this point, and Caris' long-term health is what is most important.''

LeVert and Albrecht will both be honored before the Iowa game. This is a disappointing finish to LeVert's college career, which began when he was part of Michigan's Final Four team in 2013. He made huge strides as a sophomore in 2013-14, but he was limited to 18 games last season because of a left foot injury.

He averaged 16.5 points this season, but the Wolverines have had to play without him for almost the entire Big Ten schedule. Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin and Duncan Robinson have had their moments, but Michigan was ranked 58th in the RPI as of Tuesday - far from a lock to make the NCAA field.

Injuries to LeVert and Walton helped keep Michigan out of the NCAA Tournament last year, and the Wolverines are in danger of missing out again. LeVert's challenge now is to get healthy again so he can pursue a pro career. After playing in 37 games as a sophomore, he's played only 33 over the past two seasons.

''Caris has been a pleasure to coach; he is a wonderful young man with a brilliant future. I am confident he will have a very successful professional career because his talent, attitude, quickness and versatility make every team better,'' Beilein said. ''He has always carried himself and handled these situations with such class and a level of maturity that is unmatched.

''This is not how he wanted to finish his career here; however, we know he can hold his head high for how he has represented this great university and our basketball program.''

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Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

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