Caris LeVert Handling Pressure, Leading

Now a junior, Michigan’s Caris LeVert is the Wolverines No. 1 option offensively as the 2014-15 season gets underway. Instead of focusing on outside pressures, the Ohio native is staying focused and trying to bring the young freshmen along.

A breakthrough sophomore campaign surrounded by three 2014 NBA draft picks, Michigan junior Caris LeVert is no longer playing second fiddle to anyone.

After averaging 12.9 points per game a year ago and in some respects carrying Michigan’s offensive attack at certain points during the season, LeVert heads into the 2014-15 season as the clear No. 1 option.

Despite missing time over the summer after undergoing foot surgery, LeVert feels ready with the exhibition opener Monday night at Crisler Center against Wayne State.

“Not really any pressure,” LeVert said. “I’ve been back from the injury now for a couple months so the injury is in the past now. I’m not really looking at it at all now. I’m just excited to get out there for the season.”

“I think we can be as good as we want to be if we get better each and every day,” LeVert added. “We’re not really looking forward to the future cause we’re such a growing team right now but the Italy trip was definitely a positive trip for us.”

Entering Michigan skinny as a rail and appearing to be a project of sorts, LeVert forced his way onto the floor his freshman year, playing a small but critical role in the Wolverines run to the Final Four in 2013.

Fast forward to now and LeVert is a chiseled 6-foot-7, 200-pounds likely lock for the first round of the 2015 NBA draft.

“I’m already a junior and it seems like just yesterday I was a young freshman here,” LeVert said. “Now the team only has me, Spike and Max from that team now so, it’s definitely a new look for us.”

“Time moves by fast but we’re exciting for this year to get going.”

Michigan once again found some under the radar types late in their 2014 recruiting cycle with the additions of Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.

LeVert, who was kind of in the same boat after originally committing to Ohio University, credits the Michigan coaching staff.

“Coach Beilein, Coach (Jeff) Meyer, Coach (LaVall Jordan) Coach (Bacari Alexander); they’re all great recruiters,” LeVert said. “They recruit the right guys to come here and represent the block M.

“They really recruit guys that know how to run Coach Beilein’s system and things like that.”

Now one of the oldest and most experienced players on Michigan’s team, LeVert is in the process of stepping into a leadership role.

No, LeVert isn’t a vein popping screamer, but John Beilein is happy to have No. 23 doing what he can as part of the vision for his program with the Wolverines.

“There’s guys that if they’re not comfortable being vocal they may not help,” Beilein said. “And I wouldn’t say he’s not comfortable but he’s not going to be like the Zack Novak like you’ve got to really jump in somebody’s face, which Zack was very happy to do several times.

“But you can still get it across. His effort every day and his attitude of being coachable and his effort everyday speaks volumes for who he is. And he’s always been that way but now as one of the veteran players, our guys are watching him and that’s where I want to get this program to.

“Where it wasn’t just the coaches teaching them, they just saw it, and I’m sure that he also will be, if we’re tough on a kid some day I’m sure he’s got his arm around him on the way to training table saying ‘alright so you learned this today but it’s not,’ there’s many ways to lead and Caris has a really good method of leading.”

The Michigan Insider Top Stories