It’s been said a hundred times, but here it is once more: Michigan is in dire need of a leader with Zavier Simpson gone.
Senior forward Isaiah Livers is taking it upon himself to be that guy.
“If you ask me, I’m well prepared,” Livers said Tuesday. “Zavier leaving, I took on a lot of tips from him. … Obviously just the leadership role of just talking, trying to gather guys. Especially when it’s important. Times are rough. … That’s definitely something I’m building towards is to be this top dog leader and this top dog talker off the court.”
As the last remaining starter from the Wolverines’ 2018 Final Four team, Livers is a key voice of experience in the locker room. His junior season, though, was plagued with nagging injuries that kept him off the court for much of the year.
This year, Livers says he’s fully healthy.
“Man, you’re gonna see a different Isaiah,” Livers said. “I don’t have any injuries coming into the year. I’m just trying to stay healthy the whole season. … I feel like I let my team down last year when I got hurt.”
Livers’s leadership will be all the more important this year with lots of young talent coming in. Head coach Juwan Howard brought in an impressive first freshman class, with three ESPN top-100 recruits in center Hunter Dickinson, guard Zeb Jackson and forward Terrance Williams II. But even with as much talent as this class has, the collegiate game will be a big adjustment. Livers is seeing to it that the transition is as smooth as possible.
He’s gotten especially close with Williams, who comes to Michigan as a versatile forward, just like Livers did three years ago.
“He reminds me of myself when I was a freshman,” Livers said. “It’s just really about awareness with him, and I’m trying to really get him in the film room a lot more. … He has a next level to him and I’m trying to get that out of him.”
But for Livers, being a leader of this team isn’t just about basketball. He’s also helped ensure that the team and its staff are registered to vote. And after a summer where police brutality against people of color was pushed to the forefront of national conversation, Livers wants to encourage his teammates to stand up for change.
“I just want to be this guy who just influences the right thing,” Livers said. “Especially for younger guys in my position, I’m really trying to focus on them just using their voice. Even if they don’t have all the followers or the blue check, … All the athletes are realizing that they’re not just athletes. Athletes can speak up. There’s gonna be a chance coming, especially for Black athletes.”
Livers has made it clear: He’s going to step up and take that chance.
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