Michigan added a commitment from 6-foot-9 German forward Moritz Wagner today. The German announced his decision on twitter.
Proud that I gonna be a Wolverine and a part of 〽️ichigan next year. Damn grateful for what Alba did for me! This is my club &always will be
— Moe Wagner (@moritz_weasley) April 5, 2015
Wagner is a 17 year old prospect (who will turn 18 on April 26th) who has split time this season between Alba Berlin’s senior and junior teams. He’s expected to be eligible in the class of 2015 and his commitment makes him Michigan’s first signee in the class.
Wagner is listed at 204 cm (6’8.3″) Alba Berlin’s official roster and 207 cm (6’9.5″) on the official roster for the youth team. While he’s been listed at 6-foot-10 in other locations, it’s probably safe to assume he stands right around 6-foot-9.
He has played very limited minutes with the Alba Berlin senior team – playing in just five games total this season – but he’s played a significant role in Alba Berlin’s youth setup. That’s not necessarily a knock as Alba Berlin is one of the better teams in Europe, even beating the San Antonio Spurs during the preseason.
In the NBBL (German youth league), Wagner is averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, two assists and two steals per game while shooting 61% on twos and 30% on threes. He also averaged 9.6 points and 5.4 rebounds during the Adidas Next Generation U18 Tournament, helping Alba Berlin to a third-place finish.
Playing with Germany’s U18 team in the FIBA Euro Championships, Wagner averaged 5.2 points and three rebounds in 10 minutes a game.
UConn, Duke, Providence, UNLV, Arizona and California were among some of the other schools to have been linked with Wagner to varying degrees.
Scout.com’s Evan Daniels spoke to NBA scouts that have seen Wagner play and they provided this report:
“He’s a versatile kid who knows how to play ball,” a NBA scout that has evaluated him multiple times told Scout. “He’s not an athlete, but with his length and coordination he manages to deceive his opponents and get to the rack quiet easily. Once he becomes a more consistent shooter he will be a nightmare on the wing.”
“He reads the game well, gets his teammates involved and is unselfish player,” the NBA scout added. “The most impressive thing about him is his passion for the game and the will to win. He legitimately cares for the game.”
European Prospects saw Wagner play in May and was impressed with his versatility:
The young Moritz Wagner is a really interesting prospect for the future. Used as a PF on multiple occasions, Wagner showed that he has an outside game and that his future should be on the SF position. He can shoot from outside, either on catch-and-shoot situations or in the Pick and Pop when being the screener. Wagner can also put the ball on the floor which works particularly well when used against taller power forwards. He is also able to drive with direction changes and finish against stronger or taller players in the paint. Athletically, he is looking good and with his overall length, he is a good vertical presence on both sides of the court. Wagner really needs to be used on the wing positions in the future as he has the tools to become an interesting long small forward in the future. It will be interesting to see if ALBA can do this as they will lack some inside presence in the next generations of their NBBL roster so that Wagner risks to be used as a pure PF or even center next season.
While many have described him as a shooter, his numbers are more along the lines of a more traditional face-up man that can take slower opponents off the dribble to get to the basket or the free throw line. His shooting form looks good, and will certainly be a point of emphasis for his development going forward, but just 19% of his field goal attempts at the youth level have been threes and he’s shooting 61% on twos.
Wagner adds more size and length to an already intriguing group of front court players. Michigan will now be adding Wagner, Duncan Robinson (6-8) and DJ Wilson (6-9) into the mix next season. With Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal returning at the five and Max Bielfeldt expected to move on, Wagner could also provide an option at the five position.
With Kameron Chatman (6-7), Zak Irvin (6-6) and Aubrey Dawkins (6-6) as as other options on the wing, the addition of Wagner should push those players more into guard spots. Despite some of their strong play, it’s clear that Dawkins and Irvin are not meant to be be four men long-term.
While there are many question marks among Michigan’s front court options, it always feels safer to have more possible answers than just one or two. It’s tough to project where Wilson, Robinson and Wagner will fit into next year’s rotation, but it’s also clear that there are minutes available for them.