Michigan forward D.J. Wilson will stay in the NBA draft and not return to U-M, the school announced today.

“This was not an easy decision, however, I have thought long about the next step in my career over the last few months,” Wilson said in a released statement. “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. Go Blue!”

This news comes on the same day that fellow U-M big man Moe Wagner announced in a school release that he would withdraw from the draft pool and return to school. 

More Michigan basketball:

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In Wednesday’s SI.com mock draft, there was significant excitement about Wilson, listing him at No. 24 to the Utah Jazz, the only team to see him work out before his early May quad injury.

Many of the mocks have had him to the Jazz, more of them with the No. 30 pick.

His decision to stay in the draft is not a shock, regardless of his draft position. After declaring for the draft in April, Wilson said he began thinking about the NBA before last season began.

“D.J. and our coaching staff worked very hard over the last month to get as much information as possible on his draft status,” Beilein said in a statement. “Given the data and insight we received, D.J. is confident he is ready to take the next step in his basketball career. We love D.J. and he will always be a Michigan Wolverine. His development over the past three seasons, and particularly this past season, was phenomenal. With continued work, he shows great potential to improve in a similar manner in the NBA. We wish him and his family the very best and we will always be rooting for him during this draft process and for all the years to come.”

Wilson is attractive to NBA teams as a prototypical “stretch 4,” a 6-foot-10 power forward who can shoot the three-pointer. Though he didn’t rebound consistently, Wilson showed at times with a few 14-rebound games that he can when he’s engaged.

His 7-foot-3 wingspan is attractive to teams as defender — his 57 blocks were the most by a Michigan player in nine years — allowing him to cover a few different positions. At nearly 6 feet 11, his 37% three-point shooting is also attractive.

NBA teams were a little hamstrung in the pre-draft process with Wilson. The quad injury suffered in the San Antonio Spurs workout kept him out of the NBA combine and added to a shaky injury history including a freshman year knee injury and a back problem in high school.

Wilson’s rise from a bench player to entering the NBA draft was rapid. In his redshirt freshman year, he averaged 6.1 minutes and 2.7 points per game with only eight three-pointers total.

Last season, he jumped to 11 points per game in 30.4 minutes, had 5.3 rebounds per game and hit 41 three-pointers despite U-M rarely running plays for him because there were so many other options.

He leapt into the spotlight late in the season with his consistent play, scoring in double figures in six of Michigan’s final seven games. Given he isn’t likely to be the focal point of an NBA offense either, finding ways to score despite that is attractive to teams.

Seven Michigan players have been drafted since John Beilein came to Michigan before the 2007-08 season, the most recent being Caris LeVert, No. 20 overall last year.

Wilson’s departure opens a scholarship for U-M to find an experienced power forward to take his place, potentially a graduate transfer who could make an immediate impact.

The only current roster option at that spot is Duncan Robinson, who started there two years ago, but is only 6-foot-8 and has little of the physicality necessary as a rebounder.

A few of the Wolverines, including new point guard Jaaron Simmons, tweeted their support of Wilson.

 

 

Contact Mark Snyder: msnyder@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark__snyder. Download our Wolverines Xtra app for free on Apple and Android devices!