Whether or not Franz Wagner would start for Michigan basketball doesn’t really matter. The Wolverines biggest need is 3-point shooting and he fills that.
When you look at the 2019-20 Michigan basketball team, there are a lot of unknowns. The Wolverines lost three starters from last season, as well as their legendary head coach John Beilein.
Replacing Beilein was going to be hard enough. Yet, having to do it without the talents of Ignas Brazdeikis, Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews is even more challenging and that’s the task that lies ahead of Juwan Howard.
To make matters worse, when Beilein left for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, top signee Jalen Wilson asked for a release from his scholarship and suddenly, Michigan basketball was down another top talent, one that was a skilled 3-point shooter.
Wilson ended up at Kansas and outside of a few grad transfers such as D.J. Williams of George Washington, there is little immediate help available. One potential addition that would make an impact though is Franz Wagner, the younger brother of Moritz Wagner.
Here’s Franz Wagner, not your typical 17-year-old, scoring 14 points on 100% shooting in Game 2 of the BBL finals against an Euroleague team in Bayern Munich. He also hit a couple of clutch shots in the 4th quarter. Not afraid of the moment. pic.twitter.com/fGGTwpT11R
— NBADraftProspects (@draftprosnba) June 21, 2019
The rumors surrounding Wagner and the Wolverines have gone back months. Beilein even made a trip to Germany to recruit him and Wagner recently visited Ann Arbor, although it was before Howard was named head coach. Saddi Washington was there though; he also was critical in Moe’s development.
Franz currently plays pro ball in Germany and is on the team Alba Berlin, which just finished the final of the German playoffs. Wagner’s team lost, which means he is now free to make a decision on next season, which according to Evan Daniels of 247 sports, is coming to Michigan or staying at home with Alba Berlin, which has already offered him a contract extension.
Franz Wagner would be a top 50 level recruit if he was in the U.S. There have been a number of schools reaching out trying to get involved, it’s notable, especially considering Michigan now has a new staff.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) June 20, 2019
In something that can only be considered a positive sign, Brendan Quinn of the Athletic, also reported that Franz Wagner had filled out and submitted his academic paperwork at Michigan. Obviously, that’s not a commitment and maybe he wants to be sure he can get in first, but if the interest wasn’t really serious, why waste the time?
Update on Franz Wagner
I’m told Michigan’s admissions office received Wagner’s academic paperwork today. This DOES NOT mean he is officially committing/enrolling. However, if he wants to ultimately choose U-M, both sides need to be sure he’s academically qualified and eligible.
— Brendan Quinn (@BFQuinn) June 24, 2019
Whether or not Wagner will join the Wolverines is an open question. What’s not a question is that he would fill a huge need and would immediately be one of Michigan’s best players.
There has been a lot of chatter about whether Wagner, who is 6-foot-7, can play shooting guard. The defensive end certainly isn’t his strength but he has played professionally and will do a solid job. He’s also long and should be a solid rebounder.
At the same time though, it doesn’t really matter what position he plays or who he defends. Michigan basketball is desperate for 3-point shooting and that’s something Wagner can provide. In fact, when it comes to options left that can play next season, there is no one close.
Daniels, a 247 sports recruiting expert guessed that he would be a top-50 recruit in 2019. And beyond that, his ability to shoot in transition and in spot-up situations would be a dream next to Zavier Simpson.
If he committed sometime this week, it would be absolutely huge for Howard and Michigan basketball. It could even be enough to take the Wolverines from fringe NCAA tournament contender to a top-three team in the Big Ten.