NEW YORK — What started as a table of six was down to one.
For more than four hours, John Beilein sat there. With Nik Stauskas, his parents, his brother and his agent, Beilein sat there, waiting, hoping for each of his former players to hear their names.
He knew Stauskas would hear his first. And when he did, when the Sacramento Kings selected him eighth overall, Beilein stood and applauded.
“It was great,” Beilein said. “We started that recruiting process four years ago with them. And to have them be in this situation, none of us could have ever dreamed it would have gone this well for him. It’s a little bit of a fairytale for him.”
With one player down, he collected a Kings hat and waited for his next player to be selected.
Throughout the night, if you were following the draft on Twitter, you were expecting Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski to reveal the next draft pick before it happened.
John Beilein wasn’t aware of that.
Minutes before the Oklahoma City Thunder picked Mitch McGary with the 21st pick, Beilein took to Twitter to warn the Michigan faithful to prepare for another Wolverine to appear on the board.
Was Beilein just being hopeful? Was he trolling Twitter? Or did he know something we didn’t?
“We talk to a lot of people in the process, so I made the bold prediction there that it was coming up pretty soon,” Beilein said after the fact. “When you talk to different people, you find out different things. It was great.”
With another Wolverine on the board, Beilein collected another hat. The count was at two.
By this point, the attendance at the table started to fall. With Stauskas done with interviews, he departed the Barclays Center. Soon after, Nik’s father and brother were gone too. Nik’s agent soon followed. Eventually, Nik’s mother left as well.
All that was left was Beilein.
With Glenn Robinson III suddenly falling deeper and deeper into the second round, Beilein remained. Finally, with the 10th pick in the second round, Robinson’s name was announced.
As the lone representative of Michigan and for Robinson in the building, Beilein was given a Minnesota Timberwolves’ hat as he smiled into an ESPN camera, saying “Go Blue” to the audience at home.
With now three hats to his name, Beilein remained in his seat. While all the Michigan players expected to be drafted off the board, Beilein was still holding out for one more pick.
One more hat.
And so Beilein sat, hoping to hear Jordan Morgan’s name resonate throughout the arena and out of televisions across the world.
It was suddenly 11:45 p.m. and the last 10 or so picks remained. Beilein finally got up. So did I.
Around the Barclays Center bowels I walked, hoping to run into this true Michigan Man that was finally leaving his post for the night.
At 11:50 p.m. I found him.
“Do you have any time for an interview?”
I would have understood if he didn’t. He had been supporting his players all day, and I’m sure the last thing he wanted to do was hash over what had unfolded.
But instead, Beilein wanted to talk.
“How are you?” he asked.
We walked around the basement level of the Barclays Center with his arm over my shoulder. In my opposite hand, I held a recorder. In his, the three hats.
Beilein knew there were still 10 picks to go, but none of the teams left had worked Morgan out.
“I tried to stay as long as I could with Jordan,” he said.
We continued to walk, reflecting on the night’s events and the selection of the trio of sophomores.
“These young men have worked really hard to work to get to this point,” Beilein said. “Our staff has done a great job of developing them. And when I hold these three hats up, (I can say) ‘it’s a good day at the office — a really good day at the office.’ ”
As we rounded the corner of the floor, Beilein decided he finally had to leave.
“I have to go,” he said. “Where’s the exit?”
It was nearly midnight. John Beilein finally left the building.
-Feldman blew up online last night. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @danfeldman31.