No Big Ten player has a tougher decision to make about his future plans than Michigan’s Mitch McGary. A season ago, fresh off his breakout NCAA tourney performance, McGary was a hot name in the NBA draft. He elected to return to school, of course, and went on to play eight games before undergoing season-ending back surgery. Almost 22 and having not played since 2013, McGary is in a difficult position.
Does he enter the draft and try to prove he’s healthy in pre-draft workouts, or does he come back to Michigan to enjoy college life and attempt to improve his stock?
Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart), BTN.com. In hindsight, he should have come out after his freshman season. McGary may have been a lottery pick last season; now, he looks like a second-rounder. I think he still should come out. And I think he will. As it is, his bad back may scare off some NBA teams. Can he really afford to return to Michigan and risk more back issues? McGary is better off trying to regain his form while getting paid—even if it means a smaller paycheck as a second-round pick. Besides, early reports are he’s looking good in workouts. McGary saw action in just eight games because of back injury suffered in August that ultimately required surgery on Jan. 7. The last time he played was Dec. 14. But remember, he plays with unmatched passion and hustle and is a remarkable athlete for this size.
Sean Merriman (@BTNSean), BTN.com. I am generally a proponent of players staying in school. In McGary’s case, I think staying another year would benefit him greatly. He will be the focal point of the Wolverines’ offense, along with Caris LeVert, and will have a chance to show pro scouts that he is healthy. Right now, McGary isn’t even fully participating in team workouts, which means he likely won’t be 100 percent healthy by the time he would work out for pro scouts, if he were to declare this year. Remember, only first-round picks are guaranteed money in the NBA. If McGary decides to leave, he is not a guaranteed first-round pick. But if he comes back healthy next year and plays like he did at the end of his freshman season, he could be a lottery pick in 2015.
Brent Yarina (@BTNBrentYarina), BTN.com. Yes, McGary is in a difficult position. But, really, it isn’t that bad. Worst-case scenario (assuming he avoids injury), he comes back to Michigan, enjoys college life and all the perks that come with being one of the nation’s better players, and is a star on what figures to be a very talented team. Or, he tests his luck in the NBA draft and is, likely, getting paid to play the game he loves at the highest level. Neither is a terrible option, but I think McGary should choose the former. Not only could he chase a national title and countless individual accolades, he could play himself back into the first round of the draft, which is what every prospect wants.
Jon Miller (@HawkeyeNation), HawkeyeNation.com. I suspect if Mitch McGary could go back in time, he’d turn pro. The back issues will be a big question for him until he proves they aren’t a factor. In one of the deepest drafts in decades, you don’t want to have back problems. He may fall to the second round and if that is the case, you need to come back and prove to the world you are OK. If he is OK, he’ll have a monster year in a somewhat depleted Big Ten. So I think he should come back to Michigan, prove he is OK and be a possible lottery pick in 2015.
Amelia Rayno (@AmeliaRayno), Minneapolis Star Tribune. At some point, Mitch McGary will most likely have the chance to make money playing professional basketball. When and how he attacks that goal is really a decision only one person can make. Maybe McGary will enter the NBA draft this season. Maybe he won’t. Either way, it’s a choice only he can make. I try to avoid pontificating about what is or isn’t best for a particular player, especially when it involves such a meaningful life decision. I can’t pretend to know McGary’s personal and financial situation better than him, and of course, he’s the only one who has to live with the results, one way or another. It’s clear that McGary is putting a lot of time into his choice and regardless of how it is viewed by the masses, it will be the path he’s the most comfortable with, which is really the only thing that matters.
Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland), elevenwarriors.com. Another year of college would serve Mitch McGary well. The absence of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III could hurt McGary’s stock, since Michigan could have a decline. But he’s going to be the Wolverines’ top offensive weapon. With a solid point guard in Derrick Walton Jr., McGary’s 2014-15 season is poised to be among the best in the Big Ten, barring injuries of course. While McGary proved he can produce against talented teams with his outburst in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, he hasn’t done it over an entire season. Coming off a back injury only raises more flags. McGary could have been a lottery pick last year had he decided to go pro. Now, he’d be a second-round selection. Another year of school could thrust McGary up draft boards and back into the lottery.
Chris Vannini (@Chris Vannini), SpartanTailgate.com. I never want to tell a kid if he should or shouldn’t leave school, because there’s nothing wrong with wanting to continue to enjoy the college life. But from a purely economic standpoint, I think McGary would be best served to leave. He should have left last year, but we can’t go back in time, and hindsight is 20/20. His stock has slipped since missing basically the entire season and undergoing back surgery, but if he’s back to what he was, which Glenn Robinson III said, then McGary can probably raise his stock more than any other player in workouts by showing he hasn’t lost a step. But age is another issue. He can prove himself back in old form by playing at Michigan next season, but he’ll be 23 years old by the time the 2015-16 NBA season starts. The NBA values youth and potential. That’s why Adreian Payne doesn’t appear to be a lottery pick. He’s close to his ceiling in the eyes of scouts. Players don’t need to return to school to develop their game, and the older McGary gets, the less potential he has. From a money and stock standpoint, I believe McGary should leave. I don’t think returning would be a bad decision, but it would be riskier.