Introducing the RTC All-Big Ten Team: Michigan’s Caris LeVertPosted by Brendan Brody on March 5th, 2014
In the eight days leading up to the start of the Big Ten Tournament, we here at the Big Ten microsite have decided to unveil our all-Big Ten team. Since we aren’t doing a second team, third team or honorable mention, we went with a seven-member squad based on what we have seen at this point in the season. We all voted over the weekend, and after tabulating the results have come up with our list. Check back over the next week as we will be releasing the team members in ascending order, one by one. Our seventh selection is Michigan sophomore Caris Levert.
- Why Caris LeVert is the seventh best player in the league: In a recent post, our own Deepak Jayanti highlighted some specifics about Levert’s offensive abilities, noting how smoothly and efficiently LeVert plays in John Beilein’s offensive system. His individual statistics aren’t eye-popping nor are they as good as some of the players left off of our list. But anybody who has seen Michigan play this season knows the impact that LeVert has had on a team that wrapped up its first outright conference regular season championship in nearly three decades on Tuesday night. He’s kind of like a top-shelf glue guy. That means that he does a lot of things to fill up the stat sheet like a normal x-factor or glue guy, but he also is talented enough to take over the game if he needs to. LeVert is one of only three Big Ten players to average over 13.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.0 SPG this season (Gary Harris and Tim Frazier are the other two), but the star sophomore is the only one in that group who is making over 40 percent of his threes. After averaging only 10.8 MPG in his freshman year playing in a loaded rotation, he has taken huge strides this campaign, so much so that he’s on the short list for most improved player in the both the Big Ten and nationally.
- Signature Moment:In the second Michigan State game that the Wolverines won a couple weekends ago, LeVert made a corner three-pointer right before the end of the half. Michigan was down at the time, but the way he took the shot and started running back on defense without even looking to see if dropped signifies how far he has come with his confidence. It was sort of a visual metaphor in that he wasn’t going to let Michigan lose this game, realizing that his play would go a long way toward making that happen and that this once lightly-recruited prospect now carried the swagger and confidence of one the best players in the league. His 23-point, three-assist, three-rebound effort helped give Michigan a second half lead that it would not relinquish on the way to a nine-point victory.
- Going Forward: LeVert and Michigan should be able to entertain a deep March run. It may not end with a berth in the National Championship game like last season, but the Wolverines are one of the hottest teams in the land. With his size, skill set and athleticism, LeVert certainly has an NBA future if he continues to progress. He’s listed as a lottery pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, according to NBADraft.net, and with another year or two of development in Ann Arbor, LeVert could definitely see his stock continue to rise. Long, athletic perimeter players who can defend and hit the corner three are in vogue right now in the Association, and the exposure he’ll get playing on what appears to be a series of nationally-ranked teams should serve him well in the future.