What was supposed to be a joyous Senior Night honoring two of the Michigan men’s basketball team’s most important stars will now be a pregame ceremony featuring zero active players.
In an official statement released Tuesday morning, Michigan coach John Beilein announced that senior guard Caris LeVert — who had played just 11 minutes in 2016 after injuring his lower left leg at Illinois on Dec. 30 — will be shut down for the remainder of the season to concentrate on recovery.
The announcement comes just two and a half months after the Wolverines’ other senior, guard Spike Albrecht, announced the end of his career to focus on his recovery from two hip surgeries.
“After some prayer and talking it over with my family, Coach Beilein and the medical staff, we all feel it is best for me to concentrate on getting fully healthy,” LeVert said in the statement. “There is still some discomfort that does not allow me to help this team the way I want.
“I am so thankful for what Coach Beilein, the assistants and the medical staff have done for me during my collegiate career and in particular while I have dealt with these injuries.”
“U-M has provided me the chance to live my dream of playing college basketball and to earn a Michigan degree. There are really no words to express my gratitude for that as well as my love for all my teammates. I am so blessed to be part of this wonderful university and will forever represent the Maize and Blue.”
LeVert’s status has been something of a mystery since he first suffered the injury, with Beilein declining to reveal too many details in the six weeks he sat out. LeVert didn’t start practicing until early February, and he made his return against Purdue on Feb. 13, playing 11 minutes before suffering a setback that has kept him out of action since.
LeVert spoke to media two days later, again refusing to disclose the specifics of the injury but saying he would likely be a game-time decision moving forward. Continued soreness has now made that goal impossible for the two-time team captain.
Beilein was quick to praise LeVert’s positivity after he first returned, and he echoed that sentiment again Tuesday morning.
“He has always carried himself and handled these situations with such class and a level of maturity that is unmatched,” Beilein said in the statement. “This is not how he wanted to finish his career here; however, we know he can hold his head high for how he has represented this great university and our basketball program.”
LeVert, who passed up the chance to declare for the NBA Draft after last season, will now have to watch from the bench as his team fights to emerge on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble, which may require a win over No. 16 Iowa on Saturday.