I Think Franz Wagner Is Ready To Explode

Brandon Brown

Michigan freshman Franz Wagner missed the first four games of the season but has now started five in a row and played his best game yet against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Friday night. Wagner scored 18 points, including nine from the free throw line and was once again a presence on the defensive end of the floor and as a rebounder.

At 6-9, Wagner is a real problem. He can start his drive from the top of the key, dribble twice and finish high above the rim because of his athleticism and length. He's also got legitimate NBA range from three-point land despite shooting just a shade over 26 percent from distance. He still hasn't shot the ball well overall but you can tell the rust if falling away. 

Brown's Breakdown

I absolutely love Wagner's game. I think he's going to be a game changer down the stretch and might end up being the leading scorer pretty regularly. If he can start knocking down outside shots with more consistency and rounds into basketball shape allowing him to driver harder and run the floor with more vigor, watch out.

Wagner already does look more confident with each passing game in terms of taking defenders off the dribble, putting up shots from the outside and getting more in the mix around the rim, both on offense and defense. He says that his wrist is 100 percent and that he doesn't really think about it, but he might. It's hard to miss six weeks of basketball with a fracture on your shooting hand and then just jump right into 30-plus minutes per night. It's natural to hesitate in certain situations but that'll eventually fade. 

All in all, Wagner is special. He has an extremely high IQ, a rare combination of length and skill and is a better athlete than you'd think by looking at his lanky frame. When it all clicks it's going to be a thing of beauty and he seemed closer last week against Iowa than he has all season. 

How good do you think Wagner can be? What will be be doing by the end of the year?