Draft Watch: Caris LeVert still weighing NBA decision

Alejandro Zúñiga

While Caris LeVert initially predicted his return from surgery to fix a stress fracture in his foot would proceed on schedule, it now appears he’ll need longer than the expected 12-week recovery period.

He attended the Michigan women’s basketball team’s NIT Final Four game on April 1 in a walking boot, and John Beilein told MLive’s Brendan Quinn on Monday that the 6-foot-7 guard won’t be cleared to run until May.

“If you look at his situation last summer, it took a bit for him (to recover from stress fracture surgery in the same foot),” Beilein said.

That may complicate LeVert’s NBA Draft decision, because the deadline to declare is April 26. The NBA Draft combine is May 12-17th, and players participate in team-specific workouts before the NBA Draft on June 25.

The May recovery date still could prepare LeVert to participate in some workouts, but he’d be undoubtedly rusty after missing the last several months.

“Coming back next year would definitely be very fun for me. Very beneficial for me, and the team as well,” LeVert explained in March. “Going to the NBA would also be fun. That’s a lifetime dream. It’s definitely going to be a tough decision.”

At the time, LeVert also said he planned to take until late April to announce his decision. As the deadline nears, though, the junior has seen his name slide down mock drafts.

Beilein and LeVert plan to continue to meet this week discuss his draft stock.

“With the announcement last week with more and more kids coming out, it gives us more information,” Beilein told the Free Press. “That’s all we’re trying to put together and we’ll continue to meet this week.”

Mock Draft Roundup

LeVert’s draft stock has slid gradually and the list of underclassmen wings to declare for the draft seems to grow by the day.

That list includes Kentucky’s Devin Booker and Aaron Harrison, Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kansas’ Kelly Oubre, Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker, Florida’s Michael Frazier II, Eastern Washington’s Tyler Harvery, Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter, Houston’s Jherrod Stiggers, Florida State’s Aaron Thomas, North Carolina’s J.P. Tokoto and UNLV’s Rashad Vaughn. (H/T: MLive)

Chad Ford wrote recently in a draft chat that he believes Caris LeVert should return to school.

“He should return,” Ford wrote. “His draft stock was trending down before he was injured. Not sure he’d be a first rounder if he declared. He’d need excellent workouts.”

Ford lists LeVert as one of 18 prospects that are still 50-50 on entering the draft, there are six others listed with ‘one foot out the door’ and 30 underclassmen have already declared.

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  • scipiodreams80

    Wish you or Dylan would check out my analysis of past drafts and early entry decisions, if you haven’t already: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/first-round-why-it-matters

    I think it may well be relevant to Caris’ decision.

    • Tim

      Have you considered doing the same analysis as a regression discontinuity? Perhaps you could use 1st round / 2nd round as a breakpoint and assume that kids picked last two spots of the first round are similar to kids picked in the first two spots of the 2nd round. That might help you overcome correlation/causation issues.

      • scipiodreams80

        Many thanks for the suggestion – definitely fodder for some work over the next few weeks. I’m taking a few days away from the project as I’m a bit fried. Although, believe it or not, just to the bare eye, the last five/first five don’t look alike at all, but there are obvious sample size issues with that analysis.

  • David Remmler

    Looks like he should probably return. Either way, I wish the best for the young man.

  • Tony DeMaria

    If I were him, I’d go pro to be honest. I don’t think going back for his senior season would help him at all unless he was like B10 POY (which I guess isn’t out of the realm of possibility). There is a stigma attached to seniors going pro, it usually hurts their draft stock a bit unless they look to be high floor low ceiling role players that will fill a hole for a team. Caris projects as probably a low floor high ceiling guy at this point. A senior with low floor high ceiling is probably a second round pick with a 1 year deal. If he comes out this year he at least has a shot to get that 3 year guaranteed deal as a 1st rounder.

    Obviously the big question is if he can be healthy enough to perform well in the predraft workouts. A disasterous showing there and he’s undrafted and going to Europe. But if he’s healthy enough, he should go.

    All of that said, I hope he comes back for selfish reasons!!

    • camblue

      If he’s a second rounder then coming back his senior season would help immensely. Leaving early when not being guaranteed to be taken in the first round is rarely a good decision. If he’s hearing that he’s a first round lock, then he should go. Otherwise, another year and he could solidify that position.

      • A2MIKE

        And in the end that is what this boils down to for many kids. I think Caris is going to be a pro either way, and sometimes getting drafted in the 2nd round works out as well. If I were Caris, I would listen to my heart but ultimately think with my head. There is a lot to be gained by coming back, but there is some risk. The downside to going, is exactly what happened to GR3. If you aren’t drafted in the first round the contract is usually performance based, and unless teams think you will make an impact on a nightly basis, they won’t play you and eventually you wind up in the D League or on the 10 day contract merry go round when next year’s fresh crop of draft picks show up. I certainly understand if he goes pro, but I think the risk in both scenarios is tough. Glad I don’t have to make the decision. I wish Caris nothing but the best.

    • Mattski

      Read scipiodream’s detailed piece on the subject of that senior stigma below; it’s eye-opening. I think that there are many, many variables unaccounted-for in his schema–and think that getting away from school to where they can focus in a pro environment on their game/following their avocation even with SOME money may tend to be the ultimate influence for many players (not long-term earnings maximization)–but there’s a lot of good stuff there.

      I too–maybe selfishly–hope that Caris comes back, would even prefer that over Jaylen Brown coming. . .

  • jake

    C’mon now seriously? Is this even a decision he’s really still trying to figure out? You would have to be a complete moron to tell Levert to declare for the draft! He’s not mentally ready, he’s definitely not physically ready. He’s still in a walking boot for crying out loud! Who’s gonna draft a crippled dude? He needs to do the smart thing for himself and heal up, come back for his senior year. Get your education at the best school in the United States and be the leader of what is gonna be a very competitive team next year. Unless he breaks his foot for the 3rd time, God forbid, his stock will do nothing but go up. He’s young for his class anyways. Or you could just go pro now and end up like GR3 who obviously should have stayed another year…

    • MAZS

      Really, those who may be advising Caris to go pro are ‘complete moron(s)”? Who’s going to draft “a crippled dude”? Pretty much the entire NBA–its just a matter of how high–1st or 2nd round. I am sure Caris is getting the very best insight and guidance, including Beilein and the staff. Given your description, I can’t image why we would even want that immature, crippled player back.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    I think he may return now. That injury will effect a lot of things considering the timeline. If he is a first rounder go for it, but I just don’t see him going in the first round

  • Anonymous

    Why doesn’t anyone bring up the point that Levert unfortunately broke the same foot and that any GM would probably be hesitant to draft a player with a re-occurring foot injury.
    Leave off whether he should or shouldn’t go pro. Why isn’t this a bigger concern. Would you draft a player with an injury on the same foot within a certain time frame? Is there a shoe that can minimize foot stress going forward fr

    • MAZS

      It has been brought many times. It is basically considered common knowledge at this point.

  • Corperryale

    Freep had a piece on the recruiting limbo pre-LeVert’s decision. This seems to suggest that a change in status for Hatch is off the table, regardless of whether Brown wants to come. I hope the staff isn’t telling the Jaylen Browns of the world to look elsewhere at this point. Considering how hard the other schools are gunning for the remaining undeclared elites, it’s sorta sad that we would have to turn them away.


  • Webbdog

    Too much of a risk to return. Go pro young man!

  • psickert1

    *off topic* bye bye Mike Edwards….Damn, I really wanted that kid. We don’t enough physical players on this team.

    *on topic* if Caris leaves it’s his decision. This kid has given us 3 years and hopefully for if he stays. He was a unrated two start and now is almost a sure fire NBA pick ( 1st or second round) but if he stays we will have one Helena senior night w III the him and spike.

    He should consider a insurance policy if he does come back however. If he is a first rounder… I will let him decided and be Happy no matter what is decisions is.

    Some fans are so pompous and arrogant . These players owe us nothing. I know if he leaves some fans will trash him but those are not really fans
    Cars do what best for you and your family young man and GOD bless.

  • jsmith68

    I think Caris wants to leave he has had since January to start thinking about it his foot taking longer to heal is stalling his decision.

    • MAZS

      I agree. I suspect Caris intended to leave even after the injury, but the fact that it hasn’t healed sufficiently yet and his drop in the draft projections has him re-evaluating.