Big Ten

Wagner, Wilson make NBA Draft decisions: One Michigan forward returning to Ann Arbor, another turning pro

Michigan will get one of its star forwards back for next season, while another is turning pro.

Moe Wagner and D.J. Wilson announced their decisions Wednesday: Wagner will return to Ann Arbor for his junior season, while Wilson will keep his name in the NBA Draft.

Both players took advantage of rules allowing underclassmen to test out the NBA Draft process, receive feedback and then decide whether to return to school with their NCAA eligibility intact.

While both are seen as future pros, Wilson has received a lot more NBA hype and is being forecasted as a potential first-round pick in next month's draft. Draft Express' latest mock draft has Wilson going late in the first round.

Wagner and Wilson both factored big in Michigan's exciting late-season run that included a Big Ten Tournament championship and a spot in the NCAA tournament's Sweet Sixteen. The Wolverines won 12 of their final 15 games including six straight after a harrowing experience on the team plane that included an aborted takeoff and a skid off the runway en route to the Big Ten Tournament in Washington, D.C.

Wagner scored 17 points in a win over Minnesota in the semifinal round of the conference tournament and dropped a whopping 26 points in a win over Louisville in the NCAA tournament's Round of 32. Wilson was sensational in the Big Ten Tournament, averaging better than 15 points in those four wins, including a 26-point effort in the overtime win over Purdue. He averaged 16 points a game in the team's three NCAA tournament contests, scoring 19 against Oklahoma State and 17 against Louisville.

On the 2016-17 season, Wagner averaged 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds a game, while Wilson averaged 11 points and 5.3 rebounds a game.

"This was not an easy decision," Wilson said in his Wednesday announcement, "however, I have thought long about the next step in my career over the last few months. After many prayers and discussions with my mom, coach (John) Beilein and the staff, it is the right time for me to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA.

"I am confident I have the drive, work ethic and maturity for this next step. It's never going to be easy, but if I have learned anything at Michigan, perseverance pays off. It has truly been a blessing to have had the opportunity to attend Michigan, and I will forever be grateful to coach Beilein and his staff for taking the chance on me. There are so many memories over the past three years that I will always cherish. I will be a Wolverine at heart forever."

"The mission is to lead this team and to win," Wagner told the Michigan athletics website. "I want to win the Big Ten again. Winning the Big Ten Tournament whetted my appetite. I wanted more. It's a little early to talk about a national championship, but we go into every game with the mentality of being able to win it. We have so many players who can step up this year, and I want to step up my game and be more consistent and lead by example the way Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin did for me.

"You've got to shoot for the moon if you want to be successful."

Wagner will return as a leader on this fall's Michigan team. Seniors Walton and Irvin departed after exhausting their NCAA eligibility, and Wilson is leaving, as well.