Michigan Basketball: Franz Wagner enters NBA draft, says thank you

After a stellar career with Michigan basketball, Franz Wagner announced on Tuesday that he will enter the 2021 NBA draft but wrote a thank you letter before he did.

Franz Wagner is a Michigan man. That much is certain, especially after the way the Michigan basketball standout declared for the 2021 NBA draft on Tuesday.

Wagner penned a goodbye letter on The Players Tribune and it is one that Michigan basketball fans have to absolutely take the time to read.

Obviously, it wasn’t a shock that Wagner declared for the draft. There were some rumblings last week that he hadn’t made a decision yet, but as a projected lottery pick, it would have been hard for him to walk away from that — even though it still was.

Here’s part of what Franz wrote explaining his decision, with a subtle shot at his brother, Moe Wagner, tossed in:

“I’ll be honest … I’m definitely feeling a lot of emotions about it. I’m hopeful, more than anything — as playing in the NBA has been a big dream of mine. From a basketball perspective, this is the move for me to make right now. (Plus, I mean, if Moe can play in the league — obviously they’ll take anyone.) But it was still a tough decision. And I think it was tough for me for pretty much one reason: I love Michigan. Man … I’ve just truly loved being a part of this Michigan thing with you all.”

Looking at Wagner’s legacy

Last season, Wagner averaged 12.9 points per game while earning Second-Team All-Big Ten honors. Franz was a little inconsistent from 3-point range at times this season but his game grew in leaps and bounds, both as a facilitator and as a defender.

Wagner can legitimately guard positions 1-4 and once his 3-point shot gets a little more consistent, he’s going to be a really good offensive player.

Mock drafts have him in going in the top 10, and as far as the No. 21 overall pick. Either way, he seems like a lock for the first round and a strong bet to go in the draft lottery.

Wagner will certainly be missed, but those who are saying he’s not ready, just clearly don’t understand the game of basketball.

Yes, he shot the ball poorly in his final Michigan basketball game. Yet, let’s not forget, Michigan would have NEVER gotten to that point without Franz, so it’s hard to fault him for one bad night.

Instead, remember that he helped Michigan win its first outright Big Ten championship since 2014, as well as its first No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament since the Fab Five in 1993.

One of his goals, he said, was to help keep Michigan basketball near the top as an elite program, and Franz, you certainly did that. Here’s a look at his parting words:

“I’m sure a lot of people think “family” is just some word that gets over-used. But it’s honestly how I feel about my time here. I feel like I’ve found a kind of second family — one that is filled with all these great people, and that I’ll be a part of even after I leave. Sadly, now it’s that time. It’s time for me to say goodbye to Ann Arbor, and to take on this whole new challenge in the NBA. And it’s like I said — I’ll always know one thing for sure: I’m proud to be able to call myself a Michigan Wolverine. Appreciate you all. Go Blue, forever.”

His two years in Ann Arbor were memorable and ultimately, he’s going to be remembered for helping to usher in the era of Juwan Howard, one that hopefully ends with a national championship.

Franz won’t be part of that if it happens, but just like his brother Moe, he always will be a huge part of the Michigan basketball family.