ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In the hours after Caris LeVert limped off the court following a last second 56-54 win over Northwestern -- his last game of the season -- the Ohio native made his first proclamation of his intention to return for his senior season at Michigan.
LeVert relayed the message to assistant coach LaVall Jordan.
“The day or maybe it was the day after I got hurt, Coach Vall texted me and he was like, ‘so what are you thinking, between me and you, about after the year?’” LeVert said.
“And I told him I was like, ‘I’m coming back, I feel like I have to come back.’ And he told me, ‘your decision might change in the next couple months so we’ll just keep talking about it.’”
That was back on Jan. 17 though, and a lot did change in LeVert’s mind as he mulled over a potential future in the NBA next season as opposed to righting the wrongs he felt Michigan was dealt this past year in order to make one final run.
Ultimately, LeVert opted to put off a professional career and call Crisler Center his home for just one more season, but it wasn’t without several conversations with coaches and teammates along the way.
“I talked to them a lot,” LeVert said. “Whether they wanted to talk to me or not, I talked to them. They probably think I’m a little crazy too cause I went back and forth over the past couple months a lot. I told them about it.
“They were with me every step of the way, really supportive, but at the end of the day my heart was here at Michigan.”
With several peers and family members to lean on for advice, LeVert never felt as though the decision was out of his hands, never pushed in one direction over the other.
“No one really tired to persuade my mind,” LeVert said. “It was kind of me talking to them, kind of venting a little bit, getting my feelings out, expressing to them why I wanted to leave, why I thought I was ready to leave. Things like that.”
Originally projected as a mid first round pick in very early 2015 NBA mock drafts heading into his junior season, LeVert floundered a bit, ultimately ending up as a late first rounder, possibly someone slipping to round two.
Asked how much that feedback from the NBA draft advisory board played into his decision, LeVert spoke very candidly.
“It wasn’t the complete deciding factor but it did play a heavy role,” LeVert said. “Those things are pretty accurate usually so we took that into large consideration.”
After watching former teammate Glenn Robinson III slip into the second round a year ago at this time, LeVert felt he knew what was best for him.
“At the end of the day I didn’t think it was beneficial for me to go if I was going to be a second round pick,” LeVert said. “For other people, maybe that fits their description, but for me I didn’t think it was a good decision.
“For one, because I’m super young and if I came back it wouldn’t really hurt me and for two, we didn’t finish the season like I would’ve liked or like the team would’ve liked.”
Make no mistake, LeVert intends to and likely will play in the NBA some day. Looking at the full picture though, LeVert never wanted to consider playing the ‘what if’ game should he have decided to depart Ann Arbor.
“The NBA is a lifetime dream of mine, a lifetime dream of a lot of basketball players,” LeVert said. “Just playing against the best players in the world. Coming back, college is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“You don’t get a chance to play alongside your brothers everyday and I had a year left and I think if I’d have left I may have looked back and regretted the decision.”
And his Coach John Beilein, couldn’t be more thrilled with the decision LeVert made.
“I told him yesterday actually, yesterday evening,” LeVert said. “He was pretty excited, he gave me a hug. He actually made me call Mrs. Beilein as well so that was pretty funny."