The past week has been a whirlwind for Michigan Athletics. From elite talent leaving the campus in Ann Arbor to promising young stars entering it, there has been a lot to smile about for the Wolverine faithful.
It seems fitting that an academic year filled with excitement for Michigan teams would feature a similar level of off-season drama. This past year, Wolverine squads performed miraculous postseason runs, strung together awe-inspiring win streaks and even boasted a national champion.
There’s no doubt that this level of sustained success has inspired current and future generations of Michigan fans and student-athletes. And that inspiration has played out in a flurry of off-season news. The Daily breaks down the five events in five days that defined the upcoming season of Wolverine Athletics.
June 21st: Moe Wagner drafted 25th overall
Further filling the Michigan-to-NBA pipeline is now-former Wolverine guard Moe Wagner. The 6’11” German-native was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 25th pick in the draft.
Wagner has had a dream career with Michigan, leading his teams to back-to-back Big Ten titles in 2017 and 2018 and an appearance in the national title game.
Wagner led the team with 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in his final year with the Wolverines. His elite blend of post moves and three-point ability made him a unique talent that the Lakers just couldn’t pass up.
Wagner’s first-round selection makes him the seventh first-round selection in the last six years from Michigan under head coach John Beilein, further cementing the elite status of the men’s basketball program in collegiate circles.
As Wagner now looks to undertake bigger and better things, the new wave of talent entered Crisler Center this week as well. A highly-touted recruiting class will now play under Beilein featuring top-tier in-state talents Brendan Johns and David DeJulius who hope to hear their names called at the draft some day.
June 22nd: Quinn Hughes selected 7th overall
Not to be shown up, Quinn Hughes wanted to represent Michigan well at the NHL Draft where he was selected 7th overall by the Vancouver Canucks.
Hughes was the second defenseman taken off the board, coming in behind the No. 1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin who is largely touted as a once-in-a-generation defenseman.
Projected to be selected in the No. 4 – No. 8 range in the draft, Hughes fell a few spots before the Canucks stole Hughes at No. 7.
As a freshman and the youngest hockey player in the NCAA, Hughes anchored an elite Michigan defensive line with his unrivaled speed and vision for the game. Using his famed skating ability, Hughes thrives in transition and will look to quarterback Vancouver’s defensive line of the future.
Scoring five goals and 24 assists in his first season with the Wolverines, the only downside to Hughes’ game appears to be his size. Coming in at 5’10” and 175-lbs. Hughes will undoubtedly need to bulk up before he’s ready for the bruising size of the average NHL player.
From here, Hughes’ future is uncertain. His next step will either be to play another year at Michigan to develop his game or see if he’s truly ready for the next level.
June 22nd: Chris Webber accepts invitation to return to Michigan
On Friday, former Wolverine basketball legend Chris Webber agreed to return to Ann Arbor to be an honorary captain for the Michigan football team next season.
Since his time on the Fab Five in the early 1990’s, Webber has yet to set foot on campus or reunite with his old teammates since he was banished from Michigan for 10 years. The exile came after Webber committed NCAA violations during his time in college and an illicit involvement with booster Ed Martin — a scandal that saw Webber plead guilty for criminal contempt in 2002.
After the ban was lifted in 2013, Webber’s return marks the beginning of healing for a period of Wolverine history mired in regret.
“I want every player that ever played here to feel like he’s a part of the building, including Chris and anyone else,” Beilein said. “And we’re a part of your program, and that’s the never ending quest with every player, not just Chris and the Fab Five. We’re really looking forward to the day we get him back here.”
June 24th: Michigan football lands three big recruits
For a team struggling to find NCAA success and desperately trying to will itself into the playoffs, it all starts with recruiting. Particularly, getting high-level recruits to choose your program over the likes of your biggest rivals.
And that’s exactly what Michigan accomplished on Sunday.
The Wolverines hauled in three recruits highlighted by four-stars Mazi Smith and Zach Charbonnet playing defensive tackle and running back, respectively.
Both coming from in-state programs, Smith and Charbonnet add to an already stacked 2019 recruiting class and bring Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s in-state recruit total to seven.
Now, according to 247sports.com, the Wolverines have the fifth-ranked 2019 recruiting class and the highest-ranked class in the Big Ten.
Joining Smith and Charbonnet in committing to Michigan on Sunday is three-star tight end Erick All Jr. who will add even more depth in the Wolverines’ locker room.
Prior to the surge of commits, the recruiting tone was set early that weekend with three-star safety Joey Velazquez committing to Michigan to play football and baseball, bringing the weekend commitment total to four.
June 25th: Wolverines add yet another recruit
But Harbaugh wasn’t done there.
The very next day, three-star cornerback D.J. Turner III announced his intent to play with Michigan via Instagram. The commitment brought the Wolverines’ recruiting rampage total to five on the weekend and elevated their ranking to fifth overall.
From Thursday to Monday, Michigan was gifted with good news after good news from the old to the new. From watching its stars go to the pros or watching new ones come in, this weekend will certainly be referred to as a turning point for Michigan Athletics.