Michigan basketball underclassmen may face NBA draft decisions

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — It’s been the case for John Beilein almost every year over the past decade.

And it will be again this year.

Michigan basketball‘s 2018-19 season ended Thursday in a 63-44 loss to Texas Techin the Sweet 16. And with that, a few of Michigan’s underclassmen could have NBA draft decisions to make.

Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis, sophomore guard Jordan Poole and fourth-year junior forward Charles Matthews were asked about possibly declaring for the NBA draft this spring.

All three said they weren’t thinking about that at the moment.

“I’m not thinking about that stuff right now,” Brazdeikis said.

Michigan coach John Beilein said Matthews is on track to graduate this year and the program expects he’ll turn pro and take his shot at the 2019 draft. Matthews, who does have one more year of eligibility, tested the draft waters last season but opted to return to school.

Both Brazdeikis and Poole will have that option this year.

The deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft is April 21. The deadline for underclassmen to remove their name and return to school is May 2910 days after the close of the NBA combine.

“You never know (who will all come back). You’ve got transfers, guys will look at the NBA. That same old thing,” Beilein said. “Charles will graduate, so we expect him to go pro.

“If we have everybody back, it’ll be in really good shape.”

Brazdeikis, the 6-foot-7, 215-pound forward who was the Big Ten freshman of the year, has been listed as a fringe first-round prospect this year. Sports Illustrated tabbed him as the No. 27 pick in a mock draft back in January.

He averaged better than 14 points and five rebounds per game this season, finishing as the team’s leading scorer. Brazdeikis is older than the average freshman (the Lithuanian-born prospect, who got to U-M by way of Canada, turned 20 back in January).

Poole had an up-and-down year at times during his first run as a full-time starter. The 6-5, 195-pound sophomore averaged 12.8 points and 2.1 assists this season. He shot 37 percent from 3-point range but struggled to stay consistent during Big Ten play, shooting just 32.7 percent from deep.

Sports Illustrated labeled Poole as a possible draft pick with plenty to gain during March. Time will tell if he did enough to impress scouts and if he believes he’s ready to take the leap to the next level.

“I’m just trying to be supportive for the guys around me right now,” Poole said when asked about his future. “Guys like Charles and (Zavier Simpson) and our leaders, everyone.

“I’m just trying to stay in the moment. That’s about it right now.”

Reference: https://www.freep.com/story/sports/university-michigan/wolverines/2019/03/29/michigan-basketball-underclassmen-nba-decisions/3307957002/

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