Draft Watch: Caris LeVert still projected in first round

Dylan Burkhardt

Caris LeVert hasn’t played a game since re-injuring his foot in the waning moments of Michigan’s 56-54 victory over Northwestern on January 17th.

The 6-foot-6 junior underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot days later and has been in a walking boot ever since. LeVert appeared for the first time without crutches at Michigan’s home win over Rutgers on Saturday.

He’ll have a critical decision to make about his future in the coming weeks and months as he decides whether to declare the NBA Draft. John Beilein reported earlier this month that the NBA Draft Advisory Board has promised to provide feedback as quickly as possible to help LeVert make his decision.

“We’ll put his name into the NBA draft advisory board so that we can get some type of idea,” Beilein said. “They don’t do it this early, but I’ve been assured he’ll be one of the first ones on their list that they’ll look at.”

The NBA Draft deadline is April 26th, which gives LeVert a little over a month to make his decision. Given that his foot is still in a boot, his rehab schedule could effect the decision. The originally announced recovery for LeVert’s injury was 12 weeks, which would set a return date around late April — right around the deadline.

The NBA Draft combine is scheduled for May 12-17th and team-specific workouts take place over several months leading up to the NBA Draft on June 25th. Despite the injury concerns, LeVert is still regarded as a first round pick by many draft scouts and reporters.

Mock Draft Roundup

Chad Ford writes that LeVert is still highly regarded in NBA circles, even with the injuries and something of a disappointing junior year.

LeVert has been out since Jan. 20 with a stress fracture, though he should be healthy enough to compete in draft workouts. While his junior year was solid, his passing and shooting ability could make him a hotter commodity than he shows right now as we get closer to the draft.

Jeff Goodman feels LeVert would be a perfect fit for the Bucks:

LeVert is exactly what this team needs. He brings length, can really play defense and has become a reliable perimeter shooter. The question is whether he actually declares for the draft because he’s missed the last half of the season with a foot injury.

Chris Mannix hits on a developmental need that we’ve discussed often, LeVert’s mid-range game:

A broken foot ended LeVert’s season last month, a major disappointment for some executives who were anxious to see how LeVert finished the year. LeVert has prototypical two-guard size and shot well enough from three (40.5 percent) to convince several scouts that he could do it on the next level. His mid-range game needs work, but he’s a nice developmental player for a team picking in the second half of the first round.

DraftExpress’ video guru Mike Schmitz published this comprehensive scouting video on LeVert’s game

  • UMHoopsFan

    What’s great for Caris is to be in this position. As long as his foot heals, he’ll be fine whatever he chooses, and hopefully he’ll base his decision on what he wants to do and where he wants to be next year.

    • jake

      Caris Levert is a solid player don’t get me wrong, but he would be stupid to not finish his senior season at Michigan. He isn’t ready for the next level, I don’t know why everyone is rushing these kids into the draft. I don’t care what anyone says, his stock isn’t going to drop by staying his senior year. Not to mention he will have an education for backup in the future. Plus we all know Michigan will have much more success next year, this is a no brainer unless you simply love quick money more than life itself…

      • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

        I thought we saw glimpses of wow that was a NBA play (Oregon, Villanova, Penn State games come to mind), but I never saw it consistently.

        The supporting cast is now ready and they proven they can compete in every game.

        He’s young for his grade, has a team around him that is now more mature and experienced.

        He can raise his stock when the team and he plays well.

        I just don’t see how you can miss half a season and go out on that note.

        • countourzealous

          Beilein is a coach that really teaches his players the game. Not only could Caris improve his own game, I think he could benefit from another year under Beilein and become more basketball SMART.

      • section13row15

        I completely agree, think about how much the big stage of the NCAA tournament helped guys like Trey, Mitch, Tim, and Nik when it came to their draft stock. Also, I feel like Caris could go and make a million dollars next year but does anyone feel like he’ll be a mainstay in the NBA for years? He needs to add strength, his defense is average in my mind, he has a tendency to be a volume shooter and relies too much on his jumper instead of going all the way to the basket (shy’s from contact). Plus we lost to EMU, NJIT (although he played pretty well that game), and SMU while he was healthy. To me it’s a no brainer, he’s got a lot to work on.

        • jake

          Exactly, couple years if he’s lucky. Most likely he would end up like GR3 or Morris, who I believe are both in the D league now. Sad and kind of surprising but I think Stauskas is headed in that direction too. Stay in school, perfect your game. Beilien of all people should be telling them to stay but for whatever reason it kind of seems like he’s just trying to get these kids paid asap

          • MAZS

            Do you both really think that if Caris goes in the first round, let alone top 15, that he’d only last a couple of years? If that were true, he would hardly be good enough to propel us to a National Championship. You understate Caris’s skill set. You also understate the NBA’s ability to assess talent.

          • section13row15

            Tell me how Caris propelled us to the National Championship??? He is a good player who has improved tremendously during his three years here. Nobody denies that. But seriously to leave after a disappointing, injury laden, Junior season would be leaving on a low note instead of a high note. Nik Stauskas’ stock and Trey Burke’s stocks were never going to be higher even if they put up similar numbers during their junior seasons. They would have been stupid not to have turned pro. Caris on the other hand can help Michigan and help himself by staying next year. That’s all I’m saying. Making $2-3M by the time you’re 26 especially after taxes, agents, spending like you’re Kobe, etc. is usually not enough to live on for 50-60 years most likely unless they were very smart with their money.

          • MAZS

            1. if Caris goes top 15 or even round 1, then his stock is already high

            2. if round 1, he would be making over and perhaps well over a million dollars per year for at least 3 years
            3. your argument presupposes he will be a bust if he leaves now but somehow won’t be if he returns (shockingly, NBA teams believe they can do a better job of improving players than college coaches)
            4. I suspect, like Nik and Trey and Tim and Mitch and yes GRIII, his lifelong goal was to get to the NBA–and not play for Michigan.
            5. It is a little insulting for you to continue to speculate that Caris wouldn’t return to get his degree.

          • Webbdog

            And no, neither Morris or GRIII are in the D League as you suggest, they are both indeed gainfully employed pursuing and fulfilling their Dreams in the NBA. D. Morris plays for the Brookyn Nets and GRIII plays for the Sixers. Fact is since leaving Michigan D. Morris has earned more than $3 Million from NBA contracts alone.

    • countourzealous

      I hope he has the drive to come back and try to get that National Title we lost. He was on the roster and felt the disappointment. If he chooses to come back, we are in the discussion. I think more young athletes should look at Andrew Luck as a role model and stay four years, even if you can make a lot of money right now.

  • Wayman Britt

    As much as I would like Caris to stay, if he is projected a 1st rounder in the NBA he should go to the NBA. He can heal and develop while making a lot of money. But, if the experts say he will go in the 2nd round than stay in school.

  • countourzealous

    I’ve heard that he might want to earn his degree on his mother’s behalf. I’m not sure how legitimate that statement is, but if it’s something he’s considering doing then I think that’d be a good idea. His foot is obviously prone to injury, and having a Michigan degree would be good for the young man in case the NBA doesn’t pan out. I believe he said something along the lines of getting his degree for his mother, as his father passed right before he arrived at Michigan. Then again, he might be taking 25 credits and finishing his degree at the moment. Who knows.

    I’m surprised how highly ranked he is, however. It must be a weak class, because I think he needs another year of development. He is also on the very young side of the spectrum (just turned 20 or 21… not sure… but he’s not like McGary who was a junior at 22). I’d really like to see him come back, develop, and I think we could be legitimate B1G title contenders next year.

    • MAZS

      Caris sounds motivated. he will likely get his degree whether he leaves this year or not. It isn’t an either or situation.

      • countourzealous

        Well, hopefully his motivation is another Final Four next year!

        • MAZS

          not necessarily more than $1-$3 million a year. Let me know when you make a similar sacrifice.
          [This thread is based on the story that Caris is still a 1st round draft pick–if he is projected second round, then that would change dynamics]

  • David Berko

    I hope he goes. Not a fan of the hesitation dribble drive…or the way he facilitates the offense. Let’s move on. With him gone that’d open up another scholarship

  • Webbdog

    Without doubt, Caris should leave the program and not risk anymore injuries. Strike while the iron is hot. Why return and give them and those of you who selfishly want him to stay any reason to poke holes in his game.

  • Lester Abrams

    You have to be able to certainly dominate at the college level to even have a chance to stay in or dominate the NBA. Trey Burke certainly did, and even he may not last to play 15 years in the NBA

  • Chezaroo

    Gonna be a 12th hour decision IMO. It is obviously a great risk to come back and potentially get injured again, then watch teams label you injury prone and avoid you like the plague. If he is a consensus 1st rounder then it’s a no brainer. Plus this draft is very suspect for guards, good year to come out if you are one.

  • John Witzke

    since no one else has stated the obvious yet, allow me: pro bounceyball just plain blows…so damn sobering to start hearing these reports come out less than an hour after that incredibly enjoyable illinois game…it’s march…leave us alone with your BORING scripted comatose garbage