After rumors went around that Michigan basketball’s Caleb Houstan wasn’t working out at the NBA combine because of a promise, we finally have more information.
It wasn’t a good sign for the return of Caleb Houstan to Michigan basketball when the former five-star recruit declined an invite to the 2022 NBA Draft combine.
The combine is usually reserved for the top draft prospects and of all the players invited, only two declined to go and Houstan was one of them.
At the time, it was rumored that Houstan was skipping the combine because of a possible promise. Essentially, it’s when an NBA team guarantees to draft a player at a certain point in exchange for that player stopping workouts.
It’s risky to rely on a promise but it made sense. The other option was that Houstan was ready to return to Michigan basketball but rumors are now circulating about the promise being in the first round, which means that Houstan is as good as gone.
Even if the “speculation” talked about by Jonathan Givony isn’t true, the fact that Houstan’s name is getting talked about now as a first-rounder tells us his draft stock is on the rise.
Why Caleb Houstan in the first round wouldn’t be a shock
Michigan basketball fans have a history of taking a negative view of their players’ NBA potential. Heck, some fans were saying Franz Wagner wasn’t ready for the NBA draft last year and he was one of the best rookies in the NBA.
Fans also ridiculed Jordan Poole for leaving early and we have all seen how that’s worked out. Moritz Wagner went through the same thing and they aren’t alone.
It’s a weird dynamic to want Houstan back on the roster but also say he’s not good enough to be drafted in the top 40 picks or so of the NBA draft.
And when you really think about it, Houstan in the first round wouldn’t be shocking. This isn’t a prospect that’s never played high-level basketball. He played really well for Team Canada during the FIBA tournament last year and showed a number of offensive skills beyond just shooting.
Houstan also wasn’t as ineffective last season as many want to make him out to be. He had 18 games with multiple 3-point makes and hit 60 3-pointers in 34 games. In Big Ten play, Houstan made 39 triples in 20 games and shot 39 percent at 6-foot-9.
Early in the season, Houstan’s defense was a liability but by the NCAA tournament, his defense was much improved and his ability to play the three or four in the NBA is valuable. He’s a guy who, with some development, should be able to guard 4s while also stretching the floor.
His game is probably better suited for NBA but it’s not like he’s a five-star freshman who has never produced. He had 17 double-digit scoring games including back-to-back 21-point efforts in Big Ten play. He was also critical in the win over Colorado State.
Some NBA team that was high on Houstan going into this season could still have a high opinion of him. His best basketball is ahead of him and all that’s needed is a little more consistency.
A team at the end of the first round could feel like he’s a strong value because of what he can do now, what he can become and how he would fit on their roster.
At Montverde, Houstan played on an extremely talented team and was a sharpshooter. He scored without hardly ever having to dribble the ball. Imagine that kind of player, who is 6-foot-9, and can surround some of the league’s elite players?
Houstan could still use some seasoning but if he’s not ready right away, there’s always the G-League and by next spring, there’s a good chance he could be ready to contribute in the league instead of preparing for the 2023 NBA draft.
The logic makes sense and from a Michigan basketball perspective, the takeaway is clear: Houstan likely isn’t coming back and it’s time to have a backup plan ready.