Michigan basketball’s Franz Wagner knew final yr can be sluggish. Now he is able to roll

Franz Wagner briefly considered declaring for the NBA draft this offseason.

The German ahead loved a profitable freshman season for Michigan basketball, and had already entered school with draft buzz after taking part in professionally in his dwelling nation. 

However ultimately, Wagner stated, “it actually wasn’t that huge of a call.” He felt it will be finest if he returned to play one other season for the Wolverines.

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“You get that sheet of paper that you simply’re presupposed to ship in to the NBA and also you get some suggestions, the place they rank you proper now,” Wagner stated Tuesday morning throughout a Zoom name with reporters. “That’s actually all I needed — I knew I wasn’t a lottery decide or something like that, so as soon as I acquired that again, it was motivation, however on the similar time, it was additionally being grateful that I’m in the proper spot and getting into the proper path.”

As a freshman, Wagner was a complementary choice in U-M’s offense — and an excellent one. He averaged 11.6 factors and 5.6 rebounds and led the group with 34 steals. And as the season continued, Wagner improved over the season, scoring 15.eight factors per sport over the ultimate eight contests. 

[ Michigan will need a lot more from Wagner as a sophomore? Can he deliver? ]

Nonetheless, there have been clear areas for enchancment wanted. Regardless of having a popularity as a prime shooter, Wagner shot simply 31.1% from 3-point vary. His jumper was erratic all season, and Wagner principally scored on the rim, taking pictures 61% on 2s. 

Then there was Wagner’s position on offense. The Wolverines relied closely upon level guard Zavier Simpson to create pictures — each for himself and others — off of ball-screen motion. Simpson is gone now, which leaves the door open for a participant like Wagner to change into extra of a play-maker.

“Yeah, I simply wanna make the subsequent step as a participant,” Wagner stated. “I feel a part of that’s being extra vocal and kinda getting into a frontrunner position. I feel I had a very good freshman season, and I wish to construct on that.”

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Based on Wagner, he spent a lot of his freshman season merely adjusting to his new environment. He needed to get snug with dwelling out of the country. He needed to domesticate relationships with teammates and coaches that he had solely identified in passing earlier than his enrollment. 

There was additionally the on-court adjustment. Whereas Wagner excelled for an adolescent in Germany’s prime skilled league, school basketball featured a unique tempo and magnificence of play. Then, he needed to get better from a fractured right wrist suffered final October, shortly earlier than the start of the season.

Michigan’s Franz Wagner scores towards Nebraska in the course of the second half Thursday, March 5, 2020 on the Crisler Heart in Ann Arbor.

“I feel I had simply kinda gotten out of my rhythm that I had getting into these practices, in these scrimmages and apply,” Wagner stated. “All the time while you come again from an harm, you kinda should readjust and get again to that rhythm that you simply had while you performed.

“You possibly can work out individually all you need, however taking part in 5-on-5 is all the time loads completely different. After which including to that, like I stated, I had by no means performed a university sport earlier than. I feel these two issues collectively prompted me slightly bit to battle in the beginning.”

Wagner averaged simply six factors over his first 4 video games, taking pictures 36% (9 of 25) from the sphere. However Wagner was OK along with his early struggles — he had anticipated the troublesome transition, and knew the one method to get used to varsity basketball was to easily play. And as he grew extra skilled with the fashion of play, he developed extra confidence.

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“Coming into the faculty season, I kinda knew that had been quite a lot of various things that I needed to regulate to,” Wagner stated, “and I used to be keen to kinda have some video games the place I received’t have the most effective sport individually however nonetheless attempting to determine some methods I may also help the group win. For the primary couple video games, I feel that was actually a very powerful factor, when my shot wasn’t falling or after I’m not having the most effective sport offensively, which usually isn’t my sport, I can nonetheless assist the group win.

Michigan’s Franz Wagner dribbles towards Wisconsin in the course of the second half Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 on the Crisler Heart in Ann Arbor.

“I feel I discovered a pair methods to try this and actually proud that I did that. All through the season, I acquired extra snug, pictures began falling extra, then I acquired extra assured I feel. That was an enormous a part of these final couple video games that I performed.”

Now, Wagner has the advantage of hindsight. He can look again on final season and be taught from it. And he now not has to regulate to dwelling and taking part in in a brand new nation. 

“Final yr was quite a lot of issues I needed to regulate to, and now I already did that,” Wagner stated. “I really feel good the place I’m, I really feel good with the place I’m in quarantine from a bodily standpoint and when it comes to getting higher as a participant, and I’m simply able to take the subsequent step and assist the group much more than final yr.”

Contact Orion Sang at Observe him on Twitter @orion_sang. Learn extra on the Michigan Wolverines and join our Wolverines newsletterThe Free Press has began a new digital subscription model. This is how one can gain access to our most exclusive Michigan Wolverines content

This text initially appeared on Detroit Free Press: Why Michigan’s Franz Wagner believes he will ‘make the next step’

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