It’s the age-old question The Clash famously put to music in 1982. Should I stay or should I go?
That’s the predicament in front of Moritz Wagner, as he mulls leaving Michigan and entering the NBA Draft for the second straight season.
As expected, though, the junior center was non-committal about his plans at the Wolverines’ end-of-year banquet on Wednesday.
“It’s definitely a good problem to have because I have great options,” Wagner said. “This is the second year in a row with no major injuries, where I can stand here in front of you and try to avoid questions about my future.”
Wagner tentatively entered the Draft a season ago, moving without an agent to gain feedback on his abilities and stock. He ultimately decided against it. Scouts said he needed to bolster his defense and rebounding. The NBA was simply “too risky.”
But the process wasn’t entirely futile.
“(I learned) you got to give yourself time,” Wagner said. “You gotta be selfish, listen to your own heart, gut, talk to your people (and) take the time you need. Obviously, there are deadlines, but at the end of the day, listen to yourself.”
Time is even more of the essence this time around, however. With a late ending to the Wolverines’ season following the run to the Final Four, Wagner has 10 days to decide and meet the league’s April 22 deadline.
“I’m old enough now to measure that and be confident in my ability,” Wagner said. “It’s more about a very, very special place, and that’s something that was very important to me last year that I wasn’t ready to (leave).”
The readiness of Wagner’s game is, of course, the other side of the equation.
Wagner indeed bettered his rebounding, averaging nearly three rebounds more than did a season ago. He also scored a hair below 15 points per game and was virtually unstoppable down the stretch, leading the Wolverines to the National Championship Game.
Still, Michigan coach John Beilein — although undoubtedly considerate of his players’ professional aspirations — would rather prospects be overcooked than underdone.
“We want you to be over-ready,” Beilein said. “…We’re getting the final information from the different sources. Just make an educated decision, and don’t turn back.”
That’s also the approach Beilein will take in advising Charles Matthews — the redshirt sophomore guard who’s rumored to be pondering the NBA too.
After a sluggish start to the Big Ten slate, Matthews excelled down the stretch as he continually picked his spots more efficiently. The turnovers, and more specially the walks, dipped. The field-goal percentage rose. That’s why, suddenly, the Draft is a possibility for the Chicago native.
Matthews also has the option of simply testing NBA waters. That was, of course, the choice of Wagner in 2017. Ultimately, it’s a nuisance Beilein sees both sides to.
“There’s reasons both ways (to enter or not),” Beilein said. “People have seen them, people have come to our practices. Sometimes, the testing could show weaknesses they’re still developing on. On the other hand, testing could be, ‘Okay, I’m the real deal.’ That’s what we’re all trying to sort out.”
Will Matthews be one-and-done in a Michigan uniform? Will Wagner leave for good? One way or another, April 22 is decision day for the pair.
“We’ve got a lot of data for (them) to look at,” Beilein said. “And whatever decision (they) make, it’s gonna be a good one.”