It’s all settled — no more questions regarding personnel for the 2013-14 Michigan men’s basketball team.
Freshmen forwards Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III announced Thursday that they will be returning for their sophomore seasons at Michigan instead of entering the 2013 NBA Draft. Earlier this week, sophomore guard Trey Burke and junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr. announced their departure from the program.
“We’re so thrilled, the teammates are thrilled to be playing again with these two young men who, as freshmen, probably exceeded some expectations that some people had for them,” said Michigan coach John Beilein at a press conference on Wednesday. “They’re going to return to this team with energy, with talent, but most importantly with attitude that has been so important to any of the success that we’ve had.”
McGary said he made his decision on Tuesday after talking with his parents and the coaching staff extensively, saying it was “50-50” before he made his choice Tuesday night. The rising sophomore noted one of the reasons for returning was because he wanted “to be a kid for one more year” before going to the NBA.
McGary was one of the breakout players in this year’s NCAA Tournament, averaging a double-double (14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game) in the Wolverines’ run to the National Championship game. After showing improvement over the course of the season, McGary earned a starting spot entering the NCAA Tournament, replacing redshirt junior forward Jordan Morgan.
And as McGary erupted, his NBA draft stock soared. Some draft projections had McGary as high as a lottery pick after his performance in the tournament, though some experts thought McGary should remain at Michigan to continue to develop because he hadn’t been consistent.
With McGary back, Michigan is returning its full frontcourt — McGary, Morgan, redshirt sophomore Jon Horford and redshirt freshman Max Bielfeldt — and adding incoming freshman Mark Donnal. McGary will likely keep his starting spot he earned at the end of last season.
“His goals should be to be able to play face-up, high-post player, but also when they put smaller players on him, to go down on the block and just put it in,” Beilein said. “He’s gotten much better at that. Habits come and habits go, his footwork — if I could look at his footwork in October and look at it now, it’s a completely different type of balance he has now.”
Robinson took until Wednesday night to finalize his choice, but he said he could’t say how close he was to leaving because he’s “known” he’s wanted to come back to the University.
“Just the rest of the freshmen that I’m around, knowing that I have a chance to come in and be a leader for this team next year, I’ve already experienced it,” Robinson said. “I feel like I haven’t really shown everybody what I can do on the basketball court.”
Robinson was the Wolverines’ silent threat on offense, averaging 11 points per game over the course of the season. He gained more confidence as the NCAA Tournament started, posting double figures in all but one tournament game and tied a career-high in points (21) against South Dakota State in the second round.
Though Robinson wasn’t Michigan’s most dynamic player on offense, his size and athleticism are what made him a likely first-rounder in many NBA draft projections. Now that he’s returning, Robinson hopes to move from the ‘4’ to the ‘3’ position in the offense as his game continues to improve.
“We’ve always envisioned him to be the ‘3’ man,” Beilein said. “And this year was like, ‘How do we get our best five guys on the floor as much as possible?’ Just like we did with (former guard Zack) Novak. That was the plan to try, and he can do it. There’s no question he can do it.”
The return of the two freshmen will most likely put the Wolverines as a top-15 team in the preseason — Michigan is returning eight players on the 15-man roster and is bringing in three ESPN 100 commits despite the losses of Burke and Hardaway.