Caleb Houstan runs across the court, dribbling the ball.
Caleb Houstan will take his talents to the Orlando Magic. Gabby Ceritano/Daily.  Buy this photo.

On June 1, forward Caleb Houstan opted to take his chances with the NBA Draft and forgo his eligibility at Michigan. And on Thursday, that chance paid off.

Houstan was selected No. 32 overall by the Orlando Magic, the third Wolverine drafted under coach Juwan Howard and the first Michigan player recruited by Howard to hear his name called on draft night.

Although Houstan joined the Wolverines as the No. 11 player in the 2021 recruiting class, his 10.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 38.4% from the floor fell short of the high expectations he faced heading to Michigan.

In October, Houstan was projected to be drafted in the lottery by many mock drafts, but as the season progressed — and Houstan struggled — his draft stock fell. 

But Houstan wasn’t deterred. Despite his freshman season struggles, Houstan elected to enter the NBA Draft and not return to Michigan. Some suspected that his decision — as well as his choice to not participate in the NBA Combine — came from a draft guarantee with an NBA team, notably the Oklahoma City Thunder. Buzz arose that the Thunder, who had the No. 30 pick, made a promise to select Houstan.

And although it remains unknown whether the Magic made any agreement with Houstan prior to drafting him, it seems unlikely that the rumors carried any weight since Houstan’s name was not called until the second round.

While Houstan’s freshman campaign fell short of expectations and showed weaknesses, his athleticism, youth and position as a wing shooter make him a desirable prospect at the professional level. 

Although Orlando finished last in the Eastern Conference, the Magic’s young and talented core — which includes former Michigan players Franz Wagner, Moritz Wagner and fellow one-and-done Wolverine Ignas Brazdeikis — provides an opportunity for Houstan to figure out his role on an NBA team.

Houstan was one of four Wolverines who declared for the 2022 NBA Draft and the first to be drafted.

With Orlando, Houstan gets an opportunity to rewrite the narrative that surrounded him at Michigan. And given his potential, if he can find consistency, that bodes well for his future.