It’s March Madness, so why not reminisce?
Michigan, the alma mater of Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas, is in the Sweet 16 again this year, thanks to a play that LeVert says he saw coming. He recounts where he was and a psychic moment.
“I was in a private room at this restaurant, and it was crazy because I kind of called it,” he said with a smile. “Nate Babcock, who works for the team (as video coordinator), he went to Michigan State, he called me probably 15 seconds before the shot.
“Houston was at the free throw line, and if they would’ve hit the free throws, the game would’ve been over. He calls me and then I’m like, ‘Nate, I guarantee you they miss these two free throws and Jordan Poole comes down and hits a three.’ I called the whole thing, and I was like, ‘When it happens, don’t call me back (laughing). I don’t want to hear it.’ It happened, and I was going crazy.”
Indeed it did. Here’s the video.
For LeVert, the game, the moment brought him back to his time at Ann Arbor ... and his decision to don the maize and azure blue.
Ahead of the 2012-13 season, Michigan signed what turned out to be an exceptional college recruiting class, including four-star recruits Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas, along with two three-stars Spike Albrecht and LeVert.
John Beilein, Michigan’s coach then and now, helped lead the team to the 2013 National Championship game, and the Elite Eight in 2014, in which Stauskas and LeVert played vital roles.
“That whole experience was something you can’t really explain,” said LeVert after Tuesday’s Nets practice. “It feels like the whole country is watching you. Then we were in Atlanta, so it was a great atmosphere at the Georgia Dome. A whole bunch of people were there that were family and friends. It was a great atmosphere for basketball.”
LeVert, the Nets’ first-round pick of 2016, is currently the best pro of that class, by far. He like the Wolverines’ chances because of Beilein. LeVert has believed in Beilen since their first meeting.
“I think the first time I talked to him it was like a month or two before I went to school because I had a late recruitment,” LeVert said of Beilein, who coached him all four years at Michigan.
“He told me, ‘We’ve got a lot of good players coming in, and you’ll probably redshirt.’ He told me that straight up, and I really appreciated him for that. He didn’t really sugarcoat anything. He could’ve told me I was going to come in and start. He could’ve told me anything just to get me to come there, but he told me straight up.
“He was like, ‘I think you’ll probably redshirt. We’ve got a lot of guys who I think honestly are better than you. You can come in and work for your spot, but we don’t need you as a program. We would love to have you, but we don’t need you. You’ll have to come in and work.’ I really respected that.”
Well if that’s the case, why did you go to Michigan, Caris?
“For me, I wanted a coach who was going to keep it real with me,” he said. “Somebody who was going to make me better. You can’t really get better with a guy who’s just feeding you lies and telling you how good you are all the time. You want somebody who’s going to keep it real with you and make you better.”
LeVert’s Wolverines will play Texas A&M at 7:37 p.m. on Thursday. He’ll be watching and maybe prognosticating as well.
- Caris LeVert, Nik Stauskas have love for John Beilein, trash-talking the Nets’ ex-Michigan State staffers - Michael Scotto - The Athletic New York