The Wolverine

August 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 27 of 83

28 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2019 BY CHRIS BALAS M ichigan star Moritz Wag- ner first told The Wolverine about his younger brother Franz during the winter of his junior year. It was at that point that Franz was just starting to turn heads as a shooter in Germany with the same Alba Berlin club his brother had shined with, and it wasn't just those observers in his home country. Then- Michigan head coach John Beilein, Butler head coach LaVall Jordan, Stanford's coaching staff and others started paying close attention to the latest Wagner to emerge. Moritz explained that his brother was different in a couple ways: No. 1, Franz was more of a wing than a power forward and probably a better shooter, he admitted. And No. 2 … "He's probably more introverted than me," Moritz said with a laugh. And on that point, Franz said days after surprising many in his home country by signing with Michigan for the 2019 season, he couldn't agree more. "Definitely," he said with a laugh. "I mean … he's a little bit crazy, right?" Crazy in a good way, a team favor- ite who seems to bond instantly with everyone he encounters. But they are similar in one way in particular — both can flat out play basketball. Franz is considered the best 17-year- old prospect in Germany, and he's come a long way just in the year-plus since his brother sung his praises. Though the brothers haven't gone head to head in a while, Franz would love to see how he compares now. "We did back in the day, but it's been a minute since the last time," he said. "I think it would be closer." That's about as close as you'll come to hearing the younger Wagner pump up his own game. He does his talking on the court, and he's been loud from that standpoint. He played on a dual contract with Alba Berlin in the BBL and SSV lok Bernau Alba in ProB this season. In 35 games (six starts) with Alba Ber- lin, Wagner helped the team to a run- ner-up finish in the BBL, primarily coming off the bench. He averaged 4.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from three-point range. He broke out in game two of the BBL finals with a perfect 6-of-6 per- formance from the field and a team- best 14 points, earning the BBL Best Young Player Award (as the league's most valuable player who is under age 22 and has German nationality) for his efforts. Wagner also started five of his 22 games while playing with Alba Berlin in the Eurocup, averaging 2.5 points and 1.2 rebounds while shoot- ing 46.7 percent from the field. In addition, he started six of nine games with SSV lok Bernau Alba, and aver- aged 16.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 ANOTHER GERMAN IMPORT Franz Wagner Hopes To Follow In Brother Moritz's Footsteps Wagner, who is rated as a four-star talent by Rivals, is a 6-7 shooter who played on a dual contract with Alba Berlin in the BBL and SSV lok Bernau Alba in ProB this past year. PHOTO COURTESY ALBA BERLIN

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