Michigan Magic: The Orlando Magic’s Fascination with Michigan’s Finest

Jett Howard, drafted in the 2023 NBA Draft to the Orlando Magic.

The allure of the Orlando Magic towards Michigan’s finest basketball talents is hardly a hidden secret anymore. The Magic’s recent forays into the NBA drafts and recruitment strategies have been undeniably streaked with the Maize and Blue of Michigan.

This year, the Magic continued the trend by picking up Jett Howard, a sensational freshman from Michigan, as the 11th overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. This selection echoes last year’s move when the Magic drafted another Michigan talent, Caleb Houston, with the 32nd overall pick. However, the Magic’s connection to Michigan doesn’t end there.

The prominent Michigan players already on the Magic roster are the dynamic brother duo Franz and Moritz Wagner. While Franz has risen to stardom on the team, Mo has established himself as a crucial role player, contributing significant minutes on the court.

Ignis Brazdeikis and John Teske, two more former Wolverines, have also found their way to the Magic organization, albeit in different ways. Brazdeikis signed a two-way contract with the Magic in 2021 while Teske, despite initially going undrafted, eventually secured a spot on the Lakeland Magic for the NBA G League restart. Xavier Simpson, another Michigan basketball product, joined the Lakeland Magic after participating in the Orlando Magic’s 2022 NBA Summer League.

Now, this raises the question: why does Orlando Magic seem to have an affinity for Michigan’s basketball talent? Some might point to Juwan Howard’s Florida roots, as he ended his playing career with the Miami Heat. But, intriguingly, the connection seems to stem from the higher echelons of the Magic’s ownership.

The DeVos family, who have owned the Magic since 1991, have deep roots in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dan DeVos, current chairman and governor of the Magic, is a Grand Rapids native who also serves as CEO and governor of the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League.

Could the Michigan connection be a mere coincidence or is it a well-calculated strategy by the DeVos family? Whatever the reason, it’s clear that Michigan basketball players have found a welcoming home in Orlando. Whether this trend will continue in the future is yet to be seen, but for now, it’s safe to say that the Magic is tinged with a distinct shade of Maize and Blue.

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