news 5 days ago

Michigan basketball's Isaiah Livers still undecided on NBA draft or college return

Detroit Free Press — Orion Sang Detroit Free Press

May 19-- May 19--Isaiah Livers has not decided whether to remain in the NBA draft or return to Michigan for his senior season.

In an interview with WOOD-TV (Channel 8 in Grand Rapids) sports director Jack Doles, Livers said he continues to assess his options and proceed with the NBA pre-draft process as best as he can during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I haven't really made up my mind yet," Livers told WOOD-TV on Monday. "I'm still taking feedback and evaluation. Really just what I hear from these teams. They're talking to my coaches about what they think my career will be or how it will (be) if I come out this year or the year after. I'm just basically trying to get the best knowledge possible that I can come together with my family, mentors and coaches and make the best decision."

Last week, the NCAA announced that it postponed the June 3 deadline for early draft entrants to withdraw and return to school. The move was expected by Livers but still came as a "relief."

"I actually knew it was going to be pushed back, I just didn't know when they were going to do it," Livers said. "So when the news finally got out, it was great clarity on when I can make my decision with my family. So it's perfect."

No new deadline has been announced and the NBA draft remains scheduled for June 25 -- although it will likely be moved back, too. The pandemic has disrupted the pre-draft process, forcing the NBA to suspend all in-person workouts in team facilities and postponing the draft combine. For Livers and other draft hopefuls, that has led to an abundance of Zoom interviews.

"You get to do Zoom calls like this, talking with them and just telling them about myself," Livers said. "They even tell me about themselves. So it's actually a perfect combo to see if we fit or not. That's really the only way you can impress right now, unless later, since they postponed the draft combine and the lottery, that they may get a chance to see us workout, how it'd usually work before the virus, but who knows at this point? You've basically got to do your best with interviews."

As a junior this past season, Livers averaged 12.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 21 games while dealing with a string of injuries that kept him out for a significant chunk of conference play. In late March, he told reporters that he'd "always love to come back for another year at Michigan" and would likely stay in the draft if he received a guaranteed contract.

Livers isn't commonly regarded as a player who will likely be drafted this year, based on draft boards posted by ESPN, The Athletic and CBS Sports, all of which list Livers outside of the top 60.

In Monday's interview, Livers was also asked about his former coach John Beilein's short tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers, how Beilein compares to coach Juwan Howard and the cancelation of the postseason.

Months later, the abrupt end to Michigan's season is still on Livers' mind.

"In all my heart, we would've won the Big Ten tournament and we would've won the NCAA tournament," Livers said. "And that's my belief. I can't talk for other people on my team, but that getting canceled, it really hurt because I was starting to actually feel 100% back to normal. I was starting to jump, move, run, cut like I was in the beginning of the season. It just really sucks because I couldn't go out there and perform."

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter.

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