Despite battling foot injuries in his junior and senior seasons, Caris LeVert has found a home in the NBA, much earlier than expected.
LeVert was selected as the 20th pick in the first round by the Indiana Pacers of Thursday’s NBA Draft. As part of a trade made earlier in the day, the rights to LeVert will be sent to the Brooklyn Nets. Prior to the draft on April 1, LeVert signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation — the same entertainment agency that represents Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant.
"I'm really blessed to be in this situation," LeVert said to the media after his selection. "None of this was possible without God, my family, and all my teammates and coaches throughout the years. I'm blessed to be here, like I said. Through all the adversity I went through the past couple of years, I'm lost for words right now to be here."
Due to his lack of playing time because of injury, LeVert had to plead his case to NBA teams to even get selected. In a letter published by LeVert in The Players’ Tribune, he cites Durant and Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum as notable players who have succeeded in the pros despite suffering similar injuries. His injuries didn't seem to hurt his draft stock too much, though.
Prior to his season-ending ailments the past two seasons, the six-foot-seven guard led Michigan in scoring and rebounding. His 16.5 points, 5.3 boards and 4.9 assists in his final season were all improvements from his junior campaign.
The Pickerington, Ohio-native came off the bench during Michigan’s run to the 2013 NCAA Championship game, and recorded Michigan’s fourth-ever triple double against Northern Kentucky December 15. LeVert’s 98 career wins were six away from the all-time record at Michigan.