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COVID protocols provide opportunities for former Michigan basketball players

Hardship exemptions allow teams to fill out rosters stricken by omicron variant

FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2020, file photo, Michigan head coach Juwan Howard watches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Ball State in Ann Arbor, Mich. Third-ranked Michigan finally returns to the court this weekend for the first time in over three weeks, and the Big Ten leaders will hope their virus-induced layoff hasn't knocked them out of the impressive groove the Wolverines were in. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – The University of Michigan men’s basketball program canceled two games over the weekend, including Tuesday’s (Jan. 11) home matchup vs. the Purdue Boilermakers, due to COVID-19 protocols.

The spread of the omicron variant is infecting players on the professional level as well, including those in the NBA. As a result, more than 500 players have checked into games since the first week of the new year.

Among that batch of COVID call-ups were plenty of former Michigan basketball, such as like Derrick Walton Jr.

Thanks to the COVID-related hardship allowance set up by the association, Walton was able to sign a 10-day contract with the Detroit Pistons on Christmas Day.

His last game in the league came in March 2020, but looking at his play over the last couple of games, the three-year veteran is picking up where he left off.

He made the starting lineup for the depleted Pistons just one day after signing and dropped a career-high six assists before outdoing himself with nine assists and eight points on Dec. 29.

Walton nutmegged San Antonio Spurs center Jacob Poeltl in overtime for a game-winning corner three by Saddiq Bey on New Year’s Day.

Walton’s former teammate, Nik Stauskas, signed a 10-day contract with the Miami Heat. Stauskas played in two games with the Heat, his first action in the league since 2019.

Chaundee Brown Jr. signed with the Los Angeles Lakers after draft night. The undrafted rookie recently joined the Atlanta Hawks on a 10-day contract.

“Lanky Smooth” D. J. Wilson earned his second contract with the Toronto Raptors. He’s been a consummate pro since joining the league back in 2017.

With a majority of the Memphis Grizzlies entering the league’s health and safety protocols, Jon Teske, also known as “Big Sleep,” inked his own 10-day hardship contract.

Michigan center Jon Teske (15) dunks against Iowa center Luka Garza (55) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Better known as “Captain Hook,” Zavier Simpson signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder as an undrafted free agent after draft night. He hasn’t seen the court yet, but he was a member of the USA World Cup team.

Zavier Simpson drills a hook shot over Purdue's Evan Boudreaux during a game at the Crisler Center on Dec. 1, 2018, in Ann Arbor. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

About the Author:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.