Franz Wagner To Leave Michigan Early, Declare For 2021 NBA Draft
Michigan Wolverines basketball sophomore wing Franz Wagner will forgo his final three years of eligibility and enter the 2021 NBA Draft as an early entrant, he and the program announced Tuesday morning.
“It’s time for me to say goodbye to Ann Arbor, and to take on this whole new challenge in the NBA,” Wagner penned in a letter published on The Player’s Tribune, while also saying enrolling at U-M instead of continuing to play on the professional circuit in Europe was the "best decision" he has ever made.
The Berlin, Germany, native intends to hire and agent. Mock drafts have projected him as a first-round selection.
He spent two seasons in the Maize and Blue, and was a huge part of head coach Juwan Howard’s success as a new head coach. After missing the first four games of his career, Wagner started 55 straight contests and averaged 12 points and 6.1 rebounds per tilt over two years.
As a freshman, Wagner became the 10th Wolverine to earn a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team and was awarded Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors three times. He averaged 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds, as he produced 17 double-figure scoring games with two 20-plus including a career-high 22 at Purdue (Jan. 22). He led U-M with 34 steals and was second with 41 three-pointers.
During his sophomore year in 2020-21, he helped lead Michigan to an outright Big Ten regular-season title, 23-5 record and an Elite Eight appearance.
The All-Big Ten second teamer had a career season as he averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists, led U-M with 35 steals, and was second with 29 blocks.
While he racked up individual accolades and drew plenty of personal praise during his career, Wagner was most proud of the team accomplishments and what his two years did for the program and its future.
"One thing I’m really proud of from my college career is how we showed people that Michigan Basketball is here to stay," he wrote. "After [former head] Coach [John] Beilein left, there were a lot of doubters. People were questioning whether Michigan was about to take a step back. And I feel like Coach Howard and our vets, like Zavier [Simpson], they just got us locked into this mentality where we weren’t going to let that happen. It became like a mission: Not only were we refusing to take a step back — actually we were going to push things forward."
Wagner is the second in his family to leave the Wolverines for the NBA Draft. Wagner's brother, Moritz, helped U-M reach the 2018 Final Four and national title game as a junior before leaving early for the NBA Draft. In the 2018 NBA Draft, the elder Wagner was selected in the first round by the Los Angeles Lakers (25th pick) and has had stops with the Lakers, Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics before his current spot on the Orlando Magic.
• Talk about this article inside The Fort
• Watch our videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel
• Listen and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes
• Learn more about our print and digital publication, The Wolverine
• Sign up for our daily newsletter and breaking news alerts
• Like us on Facebook