Juwan Howard Discusses Futures Of Isaiah Livers And Franz Wagner
Juwan Howard spoke to the media earlier today and the futures of junior Isaiah Livers and freshman Franz Wagner was the main topic of discussion. Both players have NBA potential, but Livers' junior season was littered with injuries and Wagner's rookie campaign got off to a slow start and was obviously cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic just as he was really starting to heat up.
Both developments might keep them in Ann Arbor for another year, but both players are definitely thinking about what's best for themselves and their respective situations.
Wagner is all potential right now. At 6-9 with guard skills and a legitimate outside stroke, he's very appealing. However, he is thin and gets loose with the ball in traffic at times, which happens on nearly every possession in the NBA. Luckily for Wagner, he has a head coach in Howard who is as comfortable talking about the league as anyone in the college game.
"Franz and I have had a brief conversation about testing the NBA waters," Howard said. "We haven't had an in-depth discussion at all yet but his name has been mentioned as a guy who could possibly test the NBA waters.
"Right now, he's spending time with his brother as well as his parents. I assume they will have those discussions at the right time. I know he's going to make the best decision for himself and his family."
Livers isn't devoid of potential but he's older, closer to his ceiling and coming off several injuries that caused him to miss 10 games this past season. Throw in the fact that he finished in a bit of a slump and he's probably not screaming up draft boards. Still, it's smart for him to get feedback and see where he stands as he prepares for a decision.
"Isaiah is evaluating his future," Howard said. "He's taking time to sit down with his parents, as well as to evaluate the opportunity to hire an agent, to see what the best decision is moving forward for next year. I trust that Isaiah will confide in me, as well as his parents, to help him evaluate what the best decision is for his future. I will do whatever I can to give him my honest opinion. Right now, we haven't had a true discussion yet.
"The kids will communicate with their parents and family members to make the best decision where they feel they are headed for the future."
I personally think both players should return. I don't see either of them being drafted in the first round, which should be the cutoff for players who make the jump, in my humble opinion. That's not me selfishly wanting them back at Michigan next year, although that would be a best-case scenario for Howard and the Wolverines, but I do think it's in both of their best interests.
Wagner missed the first month of the season with a broken wrist and took some time to knock the rust off. He got hot down the stretch of the regular season, but was then robbed of the chance to shine on the biggest stages, which is a huge bummer for him. Big time performances in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments could've pushed the freshman into more draft discussions, but that didn't happen.
Livers, on the other hand, missed 10 games with groin and ankle issues and played relatively poorly upon his return. His first game back against Purdue was phenomenal, but he really struggled in the four games after that going just 14-of-47 (29.8%) to close out the season. He was forcing shots and looked out of sorts on defense at times even, which is uncharacteristic for him.
Both players would've really benefited from strong performances in the tourneys, but they were robbed of that chance. Of course, everyone else was too, but Wagner and Livers especially would've loved the opportunity to prove that they were ready for the next level. In my opinion, they are not.