Mitch McGary Out Indefinitely and What It Means For MichiganPosted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on December 28th, 2013
Some bad news came out of Ann Arbor on Friday night. Sophomore big man Mitch McGary has elected to have surgery on his lower back and is out indefinitely for the Wolverines. McGary has been dealing with this nagging injury since late summer and has, up until now, played through the pain. Thus far this season, McGary has not looked like the player he did in last March’s tournament (averaging 14.3 PPG and 10.7 RPG) and has fallen short of expectations this season (averaging 9.5 PPG and 8.3 RPG). Apparently, the McGary family decided collectively over the holidays that, in order for McGary to reach his full potential, his previously unaddressed injury needed immediate attention. So, they opted for the surgery. This decision affects Michigan as a team, and McGary as an individual player, in both the short- and long-term.
For Michigan as a team, this is obviously a major setback. When healthy, McGary is probably the most talented frontcourt player in the Big Ten. Michigan, ranked #7 in the Preseason AP poll, has had four losses already and were dropped out of the Top 25 earlier this month. Despite the slow start, the Wolverines were still thought of as legitimate Big Ten contenders. The best case scenario for them would have been McGary and Glenn Robinson III eventually growing into their bigger roles (since the departure of Trey Burke). Then by March, John Beilien and his squad would have put it all together. With McGary gone, they lose their only legitimate inside scoring threat which will put more attention and pressure on the perimeter players. Beilien’s job of getting this team to gel just got significantly more difficult.
As for McGary himself, this surgery denies him a year of eligibility; more importantly, the year he was supposed to breakthrough, in production and as a leader. It may also give McGary some buyer’s remorse with his decision to return to school after last season. Coming off his strong postseason performance, McGary was thought to be at least a first-round pick. As of this post, McGary has dropped to the second round (pick #37) in the 2014 mock draft according to NBAdraft.net. The good news for McGary is he’ll be able to reestablish his pro potential if he comes back healthy. McGary was still effective while playing injured, so there is no reason to think he cannot be the player he’s projected to be if he finally addresses his health, especially since next year’s draft class will not be as strong as this year’s.
In the short term, McGary’s decision to undergo surgery likely undercuts any real chance of Michigan returning to the Final Four. But if McGary can come back healthy next year — and if most of the Michigan roster returns –the bar will be set high once again in 2014-2015 for the Wolverines.