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Michigan Basketball: Juwan Howard Talks Livers, Wagner & The NBA, More

The Michigan Wolverines basketball program is concentrating on player safety first these days, but head coach Juwan Howard held a teleconference Thursday to provide many updates.

One of them — freshman Franz Wagner’s status. Wagner has been rumored to want to test the NBA waters, but the absence of draft camps and workouts has made decisions tougher.

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Michigan Wolverines head basketball coach Juwan Howard and freshman Franz Wagner will talks soon about Wagner's NBA aspirations.
Michigan Wolverines head basketball coach Juwan Howard and freshman Franz Wagner will talks soon about Wagner's NBA aspirations. (USA Today Sports Images)

“Franz and I have had a brief conversation about testing the NBA waters. We haven't had an in-depth discussion at all yet,” Howard said. "His name has been mentioned as far as a guy who could possibly test the NBA waters. I know he's going to make the best decision for himself and his family.

"Right now, he's spending time with his brother as well as his parents. I assume they will have those discussions at the right time.”

Junior Isaiah Livers, too, has been mentioned as someone who might give it a look. The program has been proactive in sharing any communication and information the NBA is sending them with both, Howard said, and “the kids will communicate with their parents and family members to make the best decision where they feel they're headed for their future.”

“With everything being on hold, it's interesting to see as far as what's on each and every player's' mind," Howard said. "The NBA is trying to figure out a lot of things when it comes to having an NBA season — NBA camps, NBA combines, workouts for NBA teams and then last, but not least, the Draft.

“Right now, I'm sure there's a lot on their plate, just as much with what's happening with us. I've been talking with my players and what we've been talking about as far as staying on top of their academics. They still have to go to school, doing virtual online learning. They're navigating through that process, and that's not going to be easy. That's just been the main focal point within the Michigan family at this moment right now.”

That and staying healthy. None of the players have been sick, Howard said, adding he's extremely thankful for that.

Eventually, Howard is going to have to get his roster to 13, whether it’s through NBA or other attrition. If five-star Josh Christopher pledges (as planned) and all the other freshmen sign, he and his staff will have to get creative.

As of now, however, that’s the last thing on his mind.

“Right now, it's not about basketball at this moment,” he said. “I would say to Michigan fans, let's get through what we're dealing with right now. Let's just make sure our prayers are with all of our families ... that everyone stays safe and healthy.

“Then, last but not least, let's be very thankful for all of the medical folks that are working in hospitals and the groundwork, being able to put into all the long hours to fight this pandemic we're facing at this moment. I'm very thankful for everyone, all of the responders that have been on the front lines dealing with this situation right here.”


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