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Michigan basketball's Olivier Nkamhoua to miss remainder of the season

Chris Balasby:Chris Balas02/21/24


Michigan basketball’s nightmarish season took a turn for the worse this week with news that graduate forward Olivier Nkamhoua will miss the year after wrist surgery, sources informed Tuesday night. Nkamhoua, a Tennessee transfer, started all 26 games for the 8-18 Wolverines this year and averaged 14.8 points per contest. He is expected to have three to four months of recovery.

The program confirmed in a release this morning.

“Decisions like this are never easy,” Nkamhoua said. “Playing with this injury became taxing, and we knew something had to be done. I feel like I wasn’t able to finish what I came here to do; however, the support and love from the coaches, my teammates and everyone involved with this program has been so amazing.

“Coming to Ann Arbor and having the opportunity to play for a coach like Coach Howard has been something I will cherish. I cannot thank Chris (Williams) and his training staff enough for all he has done for me throughout this season and going forward in my recovery. I am proud to be able to say I was part of this great university. I am proud to be a Michigan Wolverine.”

“This is not how things were meant to be for Olivier,” head coach Juwan Howard added. “From the moment he stepped on campus, he brought maturity, class, insight and leadership. I truly feel blessed that I was able to learn a tremendous amount from him both on and off the court. He was a true warrior playing with this injury; however, it was just time to do something. We know this will pass and he will return to have a successful playing career. We are so grateful to have been a small part of his journey.”

Nkamhoua has notched 21 double-digit point games this year with four games of 20-plus, and he’s also averaged a career-best 7.1 rebounds per game. He came to Michigan with the hopes of helping lead the Wolverines to an NCAA Tournament, but the team has struggled mightily and is limping toward its worst finish since the 2000-01 season. They’re 8-18 heading into Thursday night’s game at Northwestern, 3-12 in the Big Ten, and on the verge of the program’s first, last-place conference finish since 1967.

Assistant Saddi Washington referred to Nkamhoua as a “great burst of energy,” and associate head coach Phil Martelli marveled at his strength heading into the season. Forward Jace Howard believed he was a missing piece to a team with great potential.

“You felt it the first practice when he came in. His energy is contagious,” Howard said. “I think it’s been great. We’ve been missing that, especially for a guy we’re going to rely on. We definitely need that guy being an energy guy, lifting people up, and he’s been doing that. I think other players have benefited from that.” 

Nkamhoua been one of the bright spots on a team that’s had a tough run. Head coach Juwan Howard had heart surgery before the season, and though he’s recovering, it was a scary moment. Sophomore point guard Dug McDaniel had issues with academics that prevented him from traveling to road games after January, and the team just hasn’t put it all together.

The Wolverines hoped to build some momentum heading into the postseason, but now they’ll have to try to manage without one of their better players.

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