Defending the block: Wagner opens up on NBA Draft, Michigan prepares him for professional career
In this week’s edition of the “Defend the Block” podcast, Francois Wagner discusses his decision to make the NBA Draft, his time in Ann Arbor as a student and player, his experiences with the head coach Juwan Howard, and some of his favorite memories from his time in Michigan.
By Brian Boesch
In two of the past three years, Franz Wagner had a difficult decision to make during the offseason. In 2019, he had two main options for the next step in his basketball career: stay in Germany or come to Michigan. Both options were viable for a promising prospect who aspired to one day play in the NBA.
Even though Wagner knew a lot about Michigan and the Wolverines program from his brother Moe, the option to stay in Germany was the most familiar, especially given John Beilein’s decision to take on the head coach job. of the Cleveland Cavaliers that spring. In the end, Franz chose to come to the United States and play college basketball in Ann Arbor, which turned out to be a great result for everyone involved.
“These were the best two years of my life,” Wagner said in this week’s edition of the “Defend the Block” podcast. “I was struggling so much with the decision. Looking back, it was the best thing I could have done. I feel like I learned so much in those two years. I had so much fun in it. same time. I already miss it a lot. “
He misses Ann Arbor because of this difficult second decision he made a few weeks ago. Wagner has chosen to forgo the remainder of his college eligibility to compete in the NBA Draft next month. Most tipsters expect Wagner to be a first-round pick, while some have Wagner as a candidate to be a Top 10 selection.
After Michigan’s run to the Elite Eight, Wagner cast a wide net in his quest for advice and commentary on that decision, including the Michigan head coach. Juwan howard, other Michigan staff and his brother. In the end, Wagner went with his own opinion and made what he thinks was the best decision. In this case, just like in 2019, Wagner took the unknown option, and he did so with conviction.
“I just felt ready – as ready as possible – to take that step,” Wagner said. “My game is going to fit into the NBA style well. Obviously I would have loved to stay in Michigan, but when you get the chance to do that, I think you should grab it.”
“It’s my dream since I remember playing in the NBA. Obviously you don’t know what’s going to happen, how good the situation is going to be and all that,” Wagner continued. “I didn’t care what might happen, because I can’t control it. That’s why I kind of followed the mindset – it’s my dream. in front of me, and I think I’m ready for it, so I wanted to do it. “
Wagner likely would have been an NBA Draft pick had he stayed in Germany in 2019, but he thanks Michigan for preparing him for the opportunity. Even though he’ll be part of a new team this fall and beyond, Wagner hopes to spread the lessons he learned in Ann Arbor.
“To show on and off the court, in the NBA, what it means to be a Michigan guy, and continue to represent the M Block,” Wagner said of his post-college actions. “Once you leave Michigan, all the things you learn I think you should incorporate into your life and into what you do every day.”
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