ROSEMONT, Ill. — Caris LeVert met with media on Thursday as part of Big Ten Media Day. The junior discussed his new role as Michigan’s key offensive player, what he learned from Nik Stauskas, and what motivates him to improve.
On being Michigan’s go-to player … “I have a much bigger leadership role. Last year, I was kind of a leader by example more. This year, I have to be more of a vocal leader. We have seven young guys that haven’t played a minute.”
On improvements as a player … “I’ve gotten a little bit stronger. I improved on the aspects of the game I thought I needed to improve on. I’m just ready to make the next step.”
On requesting an NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation last year … “Yeah, it’s definitely sunk in now a little bit. … The coaches even asked me to do it. It was definitely crazy, but it’s settled down a little bit, and I’m focused on the season.”
On learning from Nik Stauskas … “Yeah, definitely. Nik definitely took a step forward from his freshman to sophomore year just in his mindset. I think I can implement that.
“I tell Nik this all the time. Nik is probably one of my favorite players to watch. I watch film of him all the time, how he goes about the game, being face guarded, being denied, just taking and making shots — even his passing ability. I think I can implement a lot of that into my game.”
On being more assertive as the focal point of the offense … “The opportunity is going to present itself for me to have the ball in my hands a little more this year. I’ve really prepared myself for that, the coaches have prepared me for that and placed a big responsibility in my hands with that. I’m ready to handle that aspect of the game.
On physical improvements given his injury … “I still stayed in Ann Arbor even though I was out for 11 weeks. I still built up my upper body. I stayed off of my lower body for those 11 [weeks], but I’ve been getting back into the groove, squatting and things like that. My body is feeling great right now.
On youth on the roster … “The young guys are really eager to learn. They’re fast learners. They’re a lot like our class, the 2012 class that came in. They have a lot of talent, they learn things very fast and are very aggressive. I think you saw that in Italy. Muhammad, Aubrey and Kam, they really attacked the basket, really shot the ball well. They’re ready to play.
On being the go-to guy … “Last year, I didn’t really know what my role on the team was at this point last year. This year, it’s a lot more clear, so I’m definitely more prepared for my role.
“[My role] is to be the leader of the team. One of the captains, hopefully me and Spike can really take on that role.”
On having Zak Irvin as the No. 2 offensive weapon … “You don’t have to talk to Zak about that. Zak’s the kind of guy that’s ready for those situations. He’s a very aggressive guy, really good player. I think he’ll show this year parts of his game that people haven’t seen.”
On playing former high-caliber recruits … “Every time I get a chance to play one of those guys, I have to play the best. It’s like the underdog story. Trey, Tim, Nik, we’ve all had a chip on our shoulders really. Playing in big-time games and things like that is a dream come true for us.
“Makes you work harder knowing that people don’t know you, knowing that you put in the same amount of work as other people but you’re not getting recognized as much as they are. Definitely makes you work a little harder.
“Knowing where I’ve been in the past and how far I’ve come, getting a big head was not even an option.”