The Michigan Wolverines basketball program has been hit with yet another departure. On Sunday, the team announced that sophomore guard Kobe Bufkin will be leaving behind his remaining eligibility and entering the NBA Draft.
Bufkin expressed his gratitude in a statement, acknowledging the strong foundation of faith and support from his family, friends, coaches, and trainers throughout the years. He added that after much prayer and consideration, he decided to declare for the 2023 NBA Draft.
A Soaring Draft Stock
Bufkin’s impressive sophomore performance, especially during the latter half of the Big Ten season, led to a significant increase in his draft stock. Now projected as a first-round pick, he averaged 14 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.3 steals in 34 minutes as a full-time starter.
This news follows freshman wing Jett Howard’s declaration for the draft last week and center Hunter Dickinson’s transfer portal entry on Friday. Consequently, the Wolverines are set to lose their top three scorers from the past season.
Bufkin’s Journey and Impact
Rated No. 14 on B/R’s Big Board, Bufkin had an average of 14 points during his time with the Wolverines. The 6’4″, 195-pound guard alternated between shooting guard and point guard positions. He saw increased playing time after Jaelin Llewellyn’s ACL injury. He was then named to the all-Big Ten third team in his sophomore season.
The Wolverines now face the challenge of replacing their top three scorers, with Bufkin, Dickinson, and Howard all moving on. Jonathan Wasserman’s recent mock draft predicts Bufkin will be selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder at pick No. 14.
A Tough Season and a Transformative Offseason
Michigan’s disappointing season saw them finish eighth in the Big Ten. The also missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015. This marks a transformational offseason for Coach Juwan Howard and his program, as they seek to rebuild the team.
With Bufkin and Jett Howard pursuing NBA opportunities and Dickinson in the transfer portal, the Wolverines will look to fill the void. Alabama transfer Nimari Burnett is joining the program, while medical redshirts Joey Baker and Jaelin Llewellyn are still in process. The staff continues to explore their options in the transfer portal.
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