Michigan F Wagner declares for NBA draft

4/14/2018 4:07:04 PM EST

Michigan forward Moritz Wagner says he's decided to sign with an agent and enter the 2018 NBA Draft.

Wagner made his announcement in an essay published by The Players' Tribune on Saturday. He will be forgoing his final season of college eligibility.

"This wasn't an easy decision for me," Wagner wrote. "I know people always say that, and maybe it sounds like they don't 100% mean it. But I'm telling you guys -- the idea of leaving Michigan, of leaving this community, is really tough. This place has really started to feel like home."

The native of Berlin, Germany, went on to hint that part of his motivation for leaving school early is the chance to share the court with Dallas Mavericks big man Dirk Nowitzki, who intends to return for his 21st NBA season at 40 years old.

"Dirk's my idol, and hero, and one of the biggest reasons I'm in this position to declare for the draft in the first place," Wagner wrote. "And you all know I'm an honest guy, and I say what's on my mind, so I'm just going to say it and hopefully it happens: Getting to share an NBA court with Dirk Nowitzki? I gotta smile when I think about that one. That would be the best thing ever, man."

Wagner improved across the board in his junior season. The 6-foot-11 forward averaged career highs in points (14.6) and rebounds (7.1), among other categories, while playing 27.6 minutes per game for the Wolverines. He had averaged 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds as a sophomore.

Wagner's stock further jumped in the NCAA Tournament. He had 24 points and 15 rebounds in the Final Four game against Loyola-Chicago and had 16 points and seven rebounds in Michigan's loss to Villanova in the national title game.

Wagner was also named MVP of the Big Ten tournament, which Michigan won.

"Moe has been a very special young man in his three years at Michigan," Wolverines coach John Beilein said in a statement. "Coming to the United States at 18 years old and thriving the way he has is an amazing story. He truly embodies what Michigan basketball is all about."

Wagner considered going pro last season, attending the NBA draft combine before deciding to return to Michigan. He's projected to be a second-round pick in this year's draft.

--Field Level Media