Days after return, Caris LeVert faces possibility of shutting down

Zach Shaw

On Monday, the Michigan basketball team was bubbling with optimism.

The Wolverines had just upset No. 18 Purdue, their woes on offense and defense appeared to be in the past and, most importantly, senior guard and leading scorer Caris LeVert spoke with the media about his return from injury and his relief to be playing again.

But by Friday, those bubbles were popped.

Michigan suffered a setback on both ends of the court in its 76-66 loss at Ohio State, and LeVert suffered a setback of his own, putting his injury status back in question and missing the loss to the Buckeyes.

Now, with a trip to No. 6 Maryland looming on Sunday, Michigan coach John Beilein admitted that LeVert is doubtful for Sunday’s game, and that the star player now faces the risk of being shut down altogether.

“We hope that he had a temporary setback in that Purdue game and we’re very optimistic that he will return,” Beilein said. “But there will be a time, pretty soon, where we may have to just shut it down, as well. We don’t know.”

The answer is similar to what the coach has said in press conferences, but previously, Beilein had been adamant that LeVert was not going to be shut down.

Yet with just four regular-season games remaining and a sudden return of pain in what Michigan has only specified as a “lower-left leg injury,” that seemingly inevitable return is suddenly in doubt.

“We’ve been talking about that for a long time,” Beilein said. “When you get into the last couple of games and you have what’s at stake for him, I’ve got to advise him in the right ways right there. If he’s not going to be at 100 percent and risk further injury, then that doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Prior to the injury, LeVert led the Wolverines in points, assists and rebounding. The senior also carried plenty of preseason accolades both in the Big Ten and nationally, and is still projected as a first-round NBA draft pick.

But with each passing game that he doesn’t return, Michigan’s postseason aspirations grow murkier, and a fanbase grows more frustrated.

“That’s the way this has gone for a while and it’s not his fault and it’s not our fault,” Beilein said. “It’s tough to predict health and the science of health and the rehab of health. That’s what it is. He’s in slighter pain every day and unless there’s a miracle, we’re going to plan on him not practicing or playing against Maryland. But tomorrow he could feel really good. But we’re not putting him out there when he’s still in pain.”

Though the Terrapins have lost two games in a row, they remain one of the most talented teams in the country — especially on their home court. Without LeVert, the Wolverines lose a key piece that can help them match the talented Maryland squad.

But after a setback that Beilein said occurred following the Purdue game on Saturday, LeVert’s presence is doubtful

“When it still lingers five days later like it is today, now we say, ‘Okay, he must have done something,’ ” Beilein said. “It wasn’t just residual action.”

With the final games of his final season in a Michigan uniform passing by, LeVert has remained in sweats, idly watching as his teammates try to punch their ticket into the NCAA Tournament.

LeVert might return. But for the first time all season, Beilein acknowledged that he might not, too.

“I just feel bad for the kid,” Beilein said. “This is a kid who was a player-of-the-year candidate two years in a row and of the last 32 possible Big Ten games, he’s missed 24, and I think we’re like .500 if you add those games together. … I think this is more about him than us. This is a kid that, with all the accolades going around all over the country, this is a kid who would deserve all those things.

“He’s an extremely spiritual and faithful young man and it’s absolutely amazing how he’s handling it.”

  • Chillax

    Finally…admit he’s really injured. I know his draft stock is going to dive. He’s going second round at best. But at least you won’t have to field questions and leave everyone wondering what’s going on (when in the back of our heads if it was nothing you would have just told us). I never thought we would have two senior season ending injuries in a single season in basketball, let alone even get two seniors to stay all four years.

    • MAZS

      He’s not going “second round at best”–unless you have sources better than NBA scouts. This is being done to help him in the draft–where I suspect he will fully participate in NBA camps etc.

      • Chillax

        Hahaha your probably one of the people that thought GRIII was going first round, or that Caris wasn’t really injured, or that Ricky Doyle was the future center, or that Duncan Robinson can go pro right now (lol). Of course it’s being done to help him in the draft. They were trying to hide the fact that he’s seriously injured in the same foot again, but words out. Yeah let me contact my NBA scouts right now. It’s a blog kid, opinions and discussions from fans. Is it possible he goes first round…absolutely, but if I’m an NBA team I don’t take him. Too frail, not a great dribbler, and worst of all injury prone.

        • MAZS

          Well, that is quite the pile of non-sequitur drivel. Particularly as you are 0 for 4 in your assumptions. I can point you to source after source confirming Caris’s continued (post-injury)
          1st round status. You have only your imagination. And, is this where I add “hahaha”?

          • Chillax

            My “imagination” (some would call these predicitons which is also what that cute little list your looking at is) has been pretty spot on predicting the team the last couple years. But that’s why they’re predictions (again see previous comments regarding opinions and discussions on a comment board). I’m willing to make a general statement that very few people blogging on here have any affiliation with NBA teams or the Michigan basketball team for that matter (This is where you can whine like a kid and say “you can’t prove that”.

            Like I said, might go first round, but I’m calling second round at best (obviously without knowing who goes into the draft). Ask Glen Robinson’s dad, who is an NBA scout and predicted his son would go first round and look how that worked for him (I think he dropped close to 40th). And That’s His part of his dad’s job! Chatman was ranked high as a recruit and look how he’s working out. Those draft lists and all those rankings are just guages on a player. But you’ve seen how levert gets injured over the year on minor things….so ask yourself would you take him early? He’s probably going to be available second round so why waste a draft on him.

            And again Hahahaha!

          • MAZS

            Your an idiot and likely a fabricator. The content of your posts belies any NBA or other inside info. GRIII didn’t drop. Most every service predicted that GRIII would likely go high 2nd round subject to his individual tryouts. I don’t care what his “Dad” may have thought [while irrelevant, I’m not aware that Senior is actually a real scout–you may be thinking of Hardaway Sr.] And congrats, even then, it’s never hard to find the exception to the rule. Let’s check back in with one another come June.

          • Chillax

            I hope your right because I want Caris to go first round and get his money.

  • robpollard

    Well, this is really terrible for Caris, but not surprising. While it is bad for Michigan, it’s even worse for his long-term NBA prospects. He definitely won’t be a 1st-round pick, which means no guaranteed money. Hopefully, he can catch on like a few 2nd rd picks do every year (e.g., GRIII) and then make some money, if not playing time, from there.

    All that said, once this season is over, I’m not sure what Beilein needs to do in terms of the medical department. Are we doing something wrong, in terms of training and or diagnosis & treatment? He (and his players) might just have really, really bad luck but it seems not only do UM players get injured, but they do for mysterious, unexpectedly long-term ways.

    • Chillax

      I think it might be all the strength and conditioning (not for Spike, his sounds hereditary). I do a lot of it and people get injured all the time. people keep trying to hit personal bests and the only way to do that is to stack the weight on and push through the pain. Or if you rock your feet back and forth it puts a terrible pressure on the arch of your foot when doing deadlifts or squats). The kids might be still figuring out what’s a good pain and a bad pain when lifting. Everyone always wants to lift through the pain and be tough. Unfortunately even the best strength and conditioning coaches can’t always see when too much is too much.

  • MStraight

    Caris seems like a very smart kid. I hope he graduates this spring with a great degree from Michigan. That is more imporant than any BIG 10/March madness games. At best he is going to end up going somewhere in the second round. I hope I am wrong becuase he really seems like a great young man and has lots of skill and ability. However, nagging injuries like this reak of a short, if any, NBA career. He seems too bright off the court to be making $25k (max d-leauge contract) hoping to make it to the leauge one day. He put education first when he decided to come back last year. Best decision that young man could have made.

  • Mattski

    I don’t second-guess Beilein too much because there is so much, far from the action, that we don’t know. But if the coach himself is making comments about how hard the waiting game has been for planning–foregoing really revising the offense always thinking Caris is coming back–then I they shouldn’t tease this one more second. ‘Probably not coming back’ likely means NOT coming back anyway; just say it flatly and let’s go.

    Really bites. We have been denied the opportunity enjoy the end of so many great kids’ M careers lately that it’s a little unreal.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    tough break…i wish we would get a healthy Levert for the BigTen tournament…even with Levert i didnt see us going too far in ncaa or big ten tourny but it would surely make us more of a threat…hope he still gets drafted…hope the injury does not affect him at the combine

  • Wayman Britt

    Sounds like Caris career at UM is over. That’s too bad, I feel sorry for him. Beilein has had some bad luck with injuries (Cronin, Austin, Spike, Caris, Walton, McGary).

    For this team, it’s time for the subs (Wilson, Dawkins, Wagner) to step up. Kam, it may be time for him to play in a less competitive league.

  • Indiana_Matt

    Feel horrible for Caris and Spike. And as a fan, so disappointing to not get to see these great young men compete. Class acts and great kids.