Jon Horford to transfer for final season of eligibility

Dylan Burkhardt

Kentucky 75, Michigan 72-29Jon Horford will transfer from Michigan after graduating this May. Here’s the University of Michigan release. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)

University of Michigan men’s basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Thursday, April 10) senior forward Jon Horford(Grand Ledge, Mich./Grand Ledge HS) will not return to the Wolverine program in 2014-15, planning to transfer for his final season of eligibility.

“Jon has been an integral part of our many accomplishments over the last four years,” said Beilein. “He brought great enthusiasm, leadership and work ethic to our program. Jon is a wonderful young man, who has a very bright future ahead of him. With his graduation this May, he will have the opportunity to play immediately at another Division I program. We will be rooting for him every step of the way.”

“My time at Michigan has been the most beneficial period of my life in terms of athletic development and overall enlightenment,” said Horford. “The bonds created over the last four years are everlasting, and the memories made are truly priceless. As on all journeys, new paths must be taken and intuition must be trusted. I leave Michigan with nothing but love in my heart.”

Horford, a tri-captain this season, played in 107 career games during his four seasons in Ann Arbor. After playing in 29 games as a freshman, a foot injury limited him to just nine games as a sophomore and he redshirted the remainder of the season. Over the last two seasons, he played in 69 games with 11 starts. The team had an 87-33 record for games in which he played.

He helped the Wolverines to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances including a trip to the national title game in 2013 and the Elite Eight in 2014. During his tenure, the Wolverines won their first Big Ten regular season title in 26 years in 2012 and its first outright title in 2014.

Horford is scheduled to finish his undergrad degree this May.

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  • :(

  • brooklyn_guy

    Wow, this was unexpected… If there is a Mitch McGary-shaped bat signal out there I’d flip the “on” switch in a hurry.

    • ChathaM

      Speaking of signals, I see this as a strong one that McGary will be returning.

      • BlueHawaii

        I see no correlation at all; suspect Jon’s headed to grad school elsewhere and will play there.

        • guestavo

          This coupled with McGary’s dad supposedly telling fans he was returning makes me optimistic.

        • JVS

          Jon’s one of the most cerebral players I can recall, and I agree that its more likely education driven than anything of merit w/regard to Mitch/others.

        • ChathaM

          I’m not familiar with UM’s grad programs, so maybe someone can help me out. Couldn’t Jon get his preferred grad degree at UM just as easily as anywhere else? If not, then it makes sense that this would be an education driven decision. But, if he could have stayed at UM, how could this decision be anything but basketball related?

          • rlcBlue

            We’ll need to wait and see where he winds up. UM has broad offerings, some excellent, some not. Some grad students choose their destination based on the desire to study with particular professors; getting the “same degree” from a different school isn’t the same thing at all.

            If Jon’s interested in studying Eastern philosophy, well, I’m sure Tommy Amaker could find a place for him. Johnny Dawkins probably could, too…

      • Mattski

        Could be, but does it put the kibosh on Glenn at the 3 once more (and send HIM packing?), or is Donnal in that spot? Give us the potential skinny, all you wise hoopheads.

      • Mattski

        Could be, but does it put the kibosh on Glenn at the 3 once more (and send HIM packing?), or is Donnal in that spot? Give us the potential skinny, all you wise hoopheads.

  • MichiganNYC

    Dylan- Do you think this has anything to do with Mitch McGary’s upcoming decision? Something must be going on with McGary because Horford would have been the starter had McGary not come back.

    • Jack Martorana

      Not only that, but he knows better than we do just how good guys like Donnal could be next year. He is probably worried that he could jump him in the rotation with or without Mitch. Ricky Doyle will also be here next year.

  • John

    Go to Alabama please

  • mistersuits

    Well there goes senior night next year.

  • guestavo

    WTF! Jon was a solid rotation big and will be missed. Doomsday scenario equals 4 open scholarships. Absurd.

  • IndianaWolverine

    Nothing but the best to Jon. I hope this is a sign that Mitch is back though.

  • mistersuits

    So if the big three depart as expected then you’re looking at a 7-man rotation of Caris, Derrick, Zak, Max, Mark, Spike and Kam. Ricky and DJ competing for playing time as well depending on what kind of condition they come in.

    • hailtoyourvictor

      Bubble team.

      • guestavo

        We’d have 4 scholarships open. With Elijah Stewart, Ryan Taylor, the player from Cornell, Eron Harris, Cole Huff, Sviatoslav Mikhailiuk and others on the market, we would add tons of bodies and talent.

        • MichiganNYC

          But none of those guys are eligible to play this year

          • guestavo

            Elijah Stewart, Taylor, Sviatoslav (if we pursued and got him, there would be NO worries) are eligible. Chris Mack is rumored to be going to California so some of Xavier’s recruits may be up for grabs. Desperate? I know.

          • JVS

            Blueitt back in the fold? A lot of moving parts here

          • JimmyZ5

            Are any of these guys considering U of M? I know that nobody can make contact with Harris until the semester is over, but I haven’t heard much any of these other guys. With a quick search, none of them are over 6″6 – so they wouldn’t provide the “shot blocker” that Beilein covets, or 1-for-1 replacement for Horford

          • guestavo

            Huff is 6’8”.There is an article linking UM to the Cornell guy a few down from this one. Ryan Taylor via the forums. Sviatoslav is an all-world talent and if a spot is open, I doubt size is considered. Stewart just got his release so he is waiting for coaches to contact him.

          • JimmyZ5

            Cool. Just went to the forum and saw your detailed post about 2014 targets. Great work, and thanks.

  • Alex

    Gives me the feeling that Mitch is coming back. God, I hope I’m not being too optimistic.

  • Nate

    Even if this mean McGary is coming back, this hurts us in a big way (no pun intended). Hard to imagine why, but good luck to the kid.

  • hailtoyourvictor

    I think this might also be an indication of how well Donnal has looked in practice. Horford has to know isn’t going to start anywhere else, so why would he leave if to backup somewhere else? Maybe he’s worried about being the 3rd option (behind McGary and Donnal).

    • Indiana_Matt

      Why wouldn’t he start somewhere else? I bet most mid-major programs would have him start from day one.

      • hailtoyourvictor

        Maybe low mid-majors….. but I think a lot of mid-majors would have better options at the 5. The term “mid-major” does not automatically mean bad players.

        • Indiana_Matt

          While it doesn’t automatically mean bad players, sometimes it means shorter players. I went to a MAC school. I think most, if not all, MAC schools would start Jon next year. I wasn’t thinking about Gonzaga, Xavier, Wichita State, Creighton, etc.

    • Bigrange

      Butler would take his size. Any team in the Summit or Horizon leagues would love to have him and I’m sure he’d start.

      • gpsimms

        you are underrating the quality of the top halves of the horizon and summit leagues, or overrating horford.

    • Joe Phillips

      I wish Jon the best and I appreciate what he did while he was here. After reading these comments though I wonder if I am missing something. In my opinion Jon did not play more because he was a liability on defense compared to Morgan. Too many times I saw Jon go out on top on the double and then got beat by his man because he didn’t get back in time. When that happened JB often took him out. On offense his skills were very limited and I saw little development over the years. As a rebounder he was pretty good but I think a lot of folks here are being very generous about his contributions. While I wish him well, if he goes to another major I doubt he will play any more than he did here.

  • TimgColo

    Very bizarre after the articles and interviews about Jon wanting to focus on Michigan’s defense. Definitely sounded like he was headed for another captaincy in 2014-15!

  • TimgColo

    Here’s to continuing the trend of young player development! Donnal, Doyle Wilson come on down!!!

  • Rich74

    Does make you wonder if Mitch has confided in his buddies that he intends to come back for one more year. Jon was an enigma to me. He has great genes but never realized his apparent potential. I hope he goes to a place where he can have success. The best of luck to him. If all three (Nik, GrIII, and Mitch) were to have come back, coach would have had a dilemma on his hands with too many scholarship players on the team, this news takes care of that problem (not that I believe all three are coming back ;’o(

    • Indiana_Matt

      While he never became his brother or father, I think he turned into a fine rotation player. If you take his lineage out of the occasion, I don’t know that anyone saw NBA draft pick potential there. But he was a great kid and I’ll miss him for sure.

    • ChathaM

      I’m glad that you said “apparent” potential, because I believe Jon’s perceived potential was always overblown, and mainly based on just his size. The fact is that Jon’s athleticism was not high major stud level, even before his injuries. He was a good player who definitely could have handled more minutes, but it always bothered me that some suggested that he wasn’t realizing his potential. By all accounts, he worked tremendously hard, but his relative athleticism was a true limiter to his potential. I think he did very well with what he had, and I’d love to see him play somewhere and get major minutes to finish his college career.

  • MTung

    Dylan’s noticeable lack of response throughout this thread line means …… ??

    • … Nothing. It means I was at work, that’s all.

      I don’t have a lot to add. Horford transferring doesn’t shock me, I think there was always a sense that he was a bit underutilized. After all, he never played more than 14 minutes per game in four years.

      Pressure is on for Donnal, Doyle, Bielfledt regardless of what Mitch decides.

      For the people that are thinking this has something that has to do with McGary’s decision? Wishful thinking. Two mutually exclusive decisions. Both kids need to do what is best for themselves and hopefully Horford lands on his feet somewhere where he can play 30 minutes per game. I just don’t think there is much dependency there.

      • Chezaroo

        Dylan as usual nailed it. Anyone that thinks Horford was happy with his role this year is just naive. He kept his mouth shut and never complained, because that’s the type of kid he is. But after Mitch’s injury status was quantified, does anyone really believe Jon envisioned himself as backup role player that would continually see his minutes diminish as the year went on? Really? He undoubtedly swallowed a lot of pride and now he desires a fresh start. Good luck to him with all sincerity. As for this playing into Mitch’s decision, not a chance. I will be pleasantly surprised if MM comes back, and I still expect all three to leave. Just hoping Caris doesn’t catch the fever as well. Nothing will surprise me.

        • ChathaM

          I’m not saying that this plays into Mitch’s decision. I’m saying it may be the other way around. If Jon knows that Mitch is leaning heavily towards returning, then it’s reasonable to think that would play into Jon’s decision to transfer.

          • Chezaroo

            Two mutually exclusive decisions. Hard for me to believe that Mitch is “stepping” up his workouts so that he can return to school.

          • guestavo

            But the 2nd round label the committee gives him and the apparent proclamation by his father might.

          • Chezaroo

            Perhaps. But I think you and I both know that if he feels his workouts are progressing to the point that he can perform for NBA suitors, he’s gone.

          • guestavo

            I’ve been following the draft for a while and guys with insane measurable and athleticism climbs. GR3 could. McGary.. I don’t think so. His motor, passing, rebounding and PnR ability can’t be gauged in that setting.

          • Chezaroo

            But his health?

          • guestavo

            I just can’t buy that he will go in the first round even if he can move. His best assets are in an actual game environment. Guys like Payne, Early and Hood are projected at the end of the 1st FFS!

          • Chezaroo

            I’ll take Payne right now!

          • Chezaroo

            Always respect your opinion buddy, but if Mitch declares this year I predict he will be drafted late in round one. The Spurs make a living out of guys like Mitch.

          • ChathaM

            Do you think that Mitch would be taking it easy if his body were capable of stepping things up, whether he were planning on returning or not? The guy’s a world class athlete. I’m sure he’d be trying to get back to full speed as quickly as possible under either scenario.

          • Chezaroo

            Respect your opinion, but have a different take. If he knows he wants to come back why vacillate? The timeline for undergraduate declaration is the motivating factor to step up his workouts. If he can’t audition he can’t change opinions. There would be no pressing need to return to the court if he was returning.

          • Everyone is doing individual workouts with coaches right now. Not just Mitch. I’m sure his rehab is on a strict schedule that has been set for a while. After the Kentucky loss he said he would have been cleared to start practicing the next week.

          • Chezaroo

            IMO, if Mitch feels he can go full speed in a pre-draft workout environ, he’s gone. Someone at the bottom of round one will definitely take a flyer on him.

        • Northern Blue

          Even if he is stepping up his workouts – the guy is at 20 minutes or close to that. To me that isn’t what you want as a guy trying to use workouts as your way of climbing up draft boards. 20 minutes is not great… He should come back.

      • gpsimms

        Really? How does Horford play less than 30 minutes a game on a McGary-less Michigan team?

        Honestly, if McGary goes pro then Horford squandered a chance to play major minutes on a big ten contender.

  • UMHoopsFan

    I wish Jon the best. He provided solid post minutes and inspirational quotes.
    As for next year’s team, it will be good. Obviously Mitch coming back would make a big difference in the post, but a group of Walton, LeVert, Irvin, Donnal, Chatman, Albrecht, Bielfeldt, Wilson, and Doyle will be just fine. Consider the season of Morgan’s RS freshman year. Absent crazy injuries, gone are the days of worrying about the bubble. The only question will be just how much they can accomplish.

  • 72blue

    So now we absolutely need to know why BA included a picture of Irvin in his tweets. He can’t be leaving, too, can he???

    • hailtoyourvictor

      He tweeted everyone’s picture.

  • Justin Harbin

    You know as soft as Jon Horford was at times, his veteran presence will be missed and he was another big body. Hopefully Donnal is as good as advertised because regardless if Mitch stays, he will be getting some big minutes next year. Time to step up Mark.

  • JimmyZ5

    Best wishes to Jon. I know we could use him next year, but I suspect this move has multiple layers to it. Also, no disrespect to Jon — but seeing him or hearing him speak always reminded me of Gary Busey in Entourage. Great kid, good ballplayer. Go Blue, Jon.

  • Northern Blue

    Like some have said – would really like to see Jon land at a school he could play and win at. A school like Dayton. They lose their starting big man, and Jon is atleast as good as him.

  • “Feels like the right time to make a move,” Horford told the Free Press this afternoon. “I accomplished a lot of the goals I had. I don’t know where I’m going yet, but I’m going somewhere else to get an opportunity to play the game the way I know I can play. There is a better fit for me out there. I just have to find the right fit.”

  • Chazer

    Good luck to Jon, the big fella was a class act and will be missed. I thought after the last game he said he was returning. Perhaps it was in the heat of the moment and he’s had some time to evaluate his options. In any event I will be tracking your progress and success wherever you land!

    Good luck Jon and thanks for the memories!

  • Blahblah

    Horford was much better than how he played towards the end of the season, I do believe that Beillein was, for some reason, very hesitant to sub in Horford even when Morgan was in foul trouble. He’s a pretty solid defender and was posting up almost 50% for most of the year. Don’t think people are giving him the credit he deserves, this is a decent blow for us next season if Mitch doesn’t come back.

  • Mattski

    Always thought Jon was a neat guy who had it in him to become pretty dominant. Don’t know that this means McGary comes back, but it could mean that Jon didn’t foresee major minutes next year. He can perhaps go somewhere where he plays in a different kind of offense too, can post up more or have more of it run through him.

  • Christopher Christophson

    IU could use him hehe

    • CZGuy99

      he can’t go to any Big Ten schools

  • salama

    He was a very good player for us, and it’s hard to blame him for wanting a chance to play for a team where he can get 30 minutes a game and the ball in the post at times.

    He’s got a lot of upside, though personally I think he’s a 5 who will be a bit too small to play there in the NBA, and maybe not quite skilled enough to be a 4. Seems like a really nice prospect as a 5 in Europe, though.

    And his brother is a star in the NBA, and he probably thinks he can at least be a rotation big. And he can. He made a leap as a rebounder this year. If he picks the right school and improves again, he could throw up 13-9-2 and get taken in the 2nd round maybe.

    He’ll pick a school with no decent 5 and a coach willing to throw the ball in the post a couple times a half. There are a lot out there who could use him, for sure. Off the top of my head, Oregon, Nebraska and Harvard are all tournament teams with nice perimeter talent who he’d definitely start for, as they either have no big men (Oregon) or only one (the other 2) and even if they play a small 4 for half the game, Horford would still get his 30.

    • Brad S

      0% chance he can play in the NBA.

      • salama

        We`ll see. I don`t think he`s got the size or rim protection skills to be a backup 5 in the NBA, but I would not be surprised at all if he has a really strong year as a 23 year old next season against 18 and 19 year old centers. He has a decent righty hook, and if he gets in the right fit I could see him getting to 15 a game on offense and being the same very good rebounder he was this year. That might be enough, with his last name, to get him on an NBA roster. Definitely enough for summer camp and training camp invites.
        Also, don`t underestimate his intelligence, character and having learned how to play in Beilein`s offense. A lot of NBA second units have a shooter at the 4, and Horford has experience playing in that kind of set up.

  • James Allison

    soft , where ever he goes !!! big men have to play big !!! or your on the bench !!!

    • Mattski

      And you’re hard, very hard–we can tell from here. All the invisible internet critics are. Take this junk out of here. . . we go for thoughtful analysis on this board.

      • James Allison

        thats life !!!! there are winners and losers !!!! you need a towel

        • Mattski

          Well, you obviously didn’t win the Spelling Bee in fourth grade, but Giant Trucks are always a winner, in some circles. Meanwhile, Jon may yet get a chance to prove himself, even make a tidy pile of cash in Europe or somewhere. (I just hope he doesn’t end up at Florida and take us to the woodshed in a tourney game next year; stranger things have happened. I really think he can play with his back to the rim, and that toughness is probably. . . not. . . his issue.) Stay hard.

  • Champswest

    I guess I would not have been surprised if this had come AFTER McGary’s announced return, but before the announcement seems strange. Does Jon think he is going to get more minutes on a quality team than he would have on a UM team with no McGary? Actually, I had envisioned that Jon would be the starter at the 5 next year (backed by Doyle) and Mitch would start at the 4 (backed by Donnal).

    • guestavo

      We were never going big.

      • chazer

        I agree, going big is not in the plan unless you have the players. Can’t sit quality wings and 3 point attempts for 2 points in the paint. UM has been a scoring machine under JB and I don’t expect that to change. Tough to recruit 5’s when they can get minutes and play anywhere….just not enough of them.

    • JVS

      (Just) my view: He would rarely/never be a focal part of any offensive sets, and there are other systems and situations where he can show what he can do better than with us, regardless of minutes.

  • Mattski

    Very bright and accomplished guy doing what he needs to do:

    As for being a winner, lots of people would take having been on a team that played for the NC, won or tied for several B1G championships, and went to the Great Eight. Says he’s headed to a high mid-major program, and there’s speculation it’s Florida.

  • Dr_ZC

    Regardless to where he lands, it is obvious from the link Mattski posted that he knew McGary’s decision, and he made his own decision afterwards. You do not cross a river and midway you decide you cannot make it, thus going back. Makes no sense. It is hard to believe he is making a decision now for the four years at Michigan that he has taken the back seat sacrificing for the team. He is a reasonable and well spoken young man, to be making such a decision if Mitch goes for the NBA. In this case, Jon will see a lot of playing time, if he manages to limit his fouls. On the other hand, If Mitch returns, then I could understand that his minutes will be limited, and he wants more playing time. But make no mistake about it. JB’s system is evolved around guard play on offense, but you still have to play defense and rebound. On offense, JB uses the PNR with the big man, so no concern there. Jon showed that he can post and he has a nice turnaround jumper. It would be very selfish of the young man to expect that the offense could run through him. I am sure he knew when he was recruited by JB what his role would be. He comes from a hoops family, to have the wrong expectations..

    At any event, it was nice to have the young man on the team. Positive influence. He has not been lucky with all his injuries, but I am sure we would wish him the best luck and success anywhere he goes. We will keep an eye on him, like we did with Udoh, and we will be pleased if we see him make it in the big leagues.

  • Chris De Sana

    Kind of funny that when I questioned if Jon would be back next year many laughed at it. He is a classy young man and I for one hope he finds the fit he is looking for wherever that may lead him.

    Who are the top BIGS that Michigan will target either via class of 2014 or transfer? I mentioned a player named Jordan Goodman in the past as he shows up as a JC player with interest in Michigan; any others?

    By the way love the looks of the kid from the Ukraine mentioned below.

  • B

    Any chance the Cunningham kid is putting off his college decision until he sees where Michigan is with regards to scholarships and playing time. Is he a fit that would help in the short term?

  • Patrick Nelson

    I like the fact that he will graduate but the fact of the matter is had he been healthy then he could’ve developed into a player. His knee problems have caused him to be the type of player that he is now. He will never be an nba player. I do wish him well.