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Posted on Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

Final Four contender? A look at what Mitch McGary and Michigan basketball could look like in 2012-13

By Nick Baumgardner

Mitch McGary is headed to Michigan.

Along with his 6-foot-10, 250-pound frame, he'll bring giant-size expectations with him in 2012-13.

Without McGary, this season's Michigan basketball team is ranked in the top 20 and appears more than capable of both a deep NCAA Tournament run and a shot at competing with Ohio State in the Big Ten race.

But when the country's top power forward, and the school's biggest recruit in more than a decade, steps on campus next season, everything changes.

The Fab Five were special, but they weren't 12-deep.

The best-case scenario for Michigan's prospects next season sits with Tim Hardaway Jr. If he opts to return for his junior season, things could get a bit nuts in Ann Arbor.


Mitch McGary blocks a shot during an AAU basketball game.

Bloomington Herald Times

Michigan wouldn't just have sure-fire NBA talent in Hardaway and McGary, but it would be one of the deepest teams in America.

A possible depth chart rotation could read something like this:

Point guard
Trey Burke (So.)
Carlton Brundidge (So.)

Shooting guard
Carlton Brundidge (So.)
Matt Vogrich (Sr.)
Nick Stauskas (Fr.)

Small forward
Tim Hardaway Jr. (Jr.)
Glenn Robinson III (Fr.)
Evan Smotrycz (Jr.)
Nick Stauskas (Fr.)

Power forward
Mitch McGary (Fr.)
Evan Smotrycz (Jr.)
Max Bielfeldt (So.)
Blake McLimans (Jr.)

Jordan Morgan (Jr.)
Jon Horford (Jr.)
Evan Smotrycz (Jr.)
Max Bielfeldt (So.)
Blake McLimans (Jr.)

That's a 12-man rotation featuring one senior and a lot of difficult decisions for coach John Beilein.

The lineup would feature few, if any, holes.

The Wolverines would have an established, elite, All-American-type scorer in Hardaway with a much more seasoned backcourt of Burke and Brundidge. And, in Stauskas and Vogrich, Michigan would be able to boast as deadly a 3-point shooting duo as anyone in the Big Ten.

And we haven't even gotten to Robinson, yet.

If Hardaway stays another year, the four-star combo from Lake Central (Ind.) High School would have the opportunity to learn his eventual role in Beilein's system from one of the best players in the country.

Robinson (who is already on the verge of becoming a five-star prospect) would likely see heavy minutes, but wouldn't face the pressure of being the unquestioned leader at his position.

The backcourt and wing spots would be loaded and deep, but the four and five positions could be what takes this group from a very good team and turns it into a legit Final Four contender.


McGary is the wild card. He's Michigan's first real pro-level power forward since Chris Webber, and if Ohio State's Jared Sullinger declares for the NBA Draft following the season, McGary would likely only be rivaled by Indiana's Cody Zeller as the Big Ten's most talented big man.

Zeller won't have McGary's proven help, though.

Smotrycz already has the potential to play three, maybe four, different positions on the floor and play them all at a high level. Morgan exploded last season, and has the physical tools to become a serious bruiser at the five spot. Horford put on 30 pounds over the summer, and appears to have made a serious commitment with his development. And in Bielfeldt and McLimans, Michigan would have two more able-bodied big men to help deal with foul trouble, injury or any other curveball thrown in the mix.

If Hardaway does declare for the NBA Draft, Michigan has an issue. And, arguably, a bigger one than the one Darius Morris' departure saddled this year's team with.

Beilein has raved all preseason about Hardaway's leadership skills, something he'd be able to carry over into 2012-13. Current seniors Zack Novak and Stu Douglass are the unquestioned heart of this year's team, but Hardaway could be the heir apparent there.

If he leaves, Michigan still has a good basketball team next season and has the potential to compete for championships. But it'd have to replace more than its leading scorer, and it'd have to replace its likely captain and floor leader.

If he stays? The sky appears to be the limit.

This season, Novak, Douglass and Hardaway have their sights set on taking the next step in re-establishing Michigan basketball as a Big Ten and national contender.

As for next year? McGary made it pretty clear: His intentions for next season are to bring a national championship to Ann Arbor.

Nothing's written in stone and plenty of variables still exist, but Michigan basketball fans should be able to expect a 24-month stretch as exciting as any the program has seen in 20 years.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

Come on guys. This is exciting! Get your hopes up! Whether we make a Final Four run this year, next year, the year after, or not at all, you can't deny that this program is looking a whole lot better than it has in a long time. Thank you, Mr. Beilein. You've made Michigan basketball interesting again.


Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

I think the point is that there is a lot to be excited about when you look at the talent we should have next season. McGary is worth the hype and will have lots of help around him. I believe he can come in and make an immediate impact without having to do it alone. In the meantime we have a team that is competitive and several key guys will gain valuable experience playing in big games. It seems that he will come at the perfect time.

Marty McFly

Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 8:47 p.m.

Check out this McGary blog my buddy sent me. He follows Mitch on Twitter and it was retweeted by him. Pretty interesting take on the UM hoops upswing. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Jason Walker

Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

McLimans would be a JR. and Vogrich would be a SR. Fact check your self please.

Nick Baumgardner

Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

Good catch, Jason. Thanks for that. Got it fixed. Nick


Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

I agree that Michigan will be an extremely good team next year assuming Hardaway returns. And I believe Hardaway will come back knowing he'd have the chance to play with a potential Final Four team. But a lot can happen between now and then. We'll have to see how this season plays out. Michigan fans are hoping for big improvement from key players like Horford, Smotrycz, and Morgan, and continued development from Hardaway. This will give us some idea how good next year's team can be with the arrival of the highly touted players McGary, Robinson, and Stauskas.


Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 1:22 a.m.

Jumping the gun a bit aren't you? Considering the fact that it is a very real possibility that he goes pro and never goes to um!


Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

Uh, no. That's not allowed anymore bob. He will play at least one full year here.

john williams

Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

to put how good Mitch McGary is (supposed to be) in perspective he got the same recruiting grade as Jared Sullinger. This article is saying that Michigan is a consensus top 20 team and if Mitch &quot;McJesus&quot; is as good as hes made out to be its really not that crazy to think michigan has a chance to be a final four contending team. I mean look who was in the final 4 last year.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 11:04 p.m.

Thanks Nick for your post but while I am happy about the Mith Mc Gary committment to U of M, he won't arrive on campus until the fall of 2012. The 2011-12 season is barely underway and it is a long time between now and March 2012, let alone March 2013. The hype about this kid scares me. I am sure a freshman in basketball can make an immediate impact compared to a freshman in football. Actually, I am glad Mc Gary's arrival is so far in the future such that, he can quitely arrive on campus. At this point, I am expecting some kind of parade in his honor. This will be my one and only post about Mitch Mc Gary until I see him playing in a U of M uniform once the 2012-13 season actually begins.

Nick Baumgardner

Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.

Appreciate all the comments, all. My intention here was to present the question of 'what are the expectations for 2012-13' with McGary now on board? I'm in no way calling for a Final Four lock here, just exploring what the roster could look like. As for this season? We know the roster and we know it's a good one. Should be an exciting year, and beyond. I look forward to interacting with all of you throughout the season. Thanks again, Nick


Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

I think you're spot-on. With that depth and talent, the Dick Vitales and Billy Packards of the world very likely will evaluate Michigan as a Title Contender at the beginning of the '12-'13 season, as they will with a bunch of other teams. Obviously, the games have to be played and only four teams can make it to the Final Four and beyond, but because of the talent and potential depth, the EXPECTATIONS will be on this team. Michigan is a Top-20 this year without these recruits, and a fairly young roster to boot. Expectations can only go up with these recruits coming aboard. Whether they live up to their billing is another question. Go Blue

Theo's Brother

Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 9:32 p.m.

For real guys????? We're one exhibition game into the 2011-12 season. As happy as I am to have McGary in the fold (unofficially for now), he can't help us win in any way this year. Articles like this give fans a gateway to under-appreciate this years team and put ridiculous &quot;National Champs or Bust&quot; expectations on next years squad. Let this season play out, then we can speculate about 2012-13. GO BLUE!


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 9:24 p.m.

You did mean the final four of the Big Ten tournament?


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 8:28 p.m.

Come on, Nick, slow down!


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

Oh for Pete's sake ... let's play the season first. What's the saying? Something about chickens and eggs and counting ... or something like that?


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 7:23 p.m.

NBA? What NBA? Wonder what Darius Morris doing. Too bad he didn't come back


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 7 p.m.

Is this article serious?!? A National title in basketball for Michigan, next year?!? This kid has yet to play a single game at the collegiate level and you're saying Final Four contender?!? Wow...and yet there's still this year's season to be played?!? Michigan basketball fans are just as delusional as their football fans. Good grief...


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

I don't know that the term &quot;exploded&quot; accurately describes Morgan's inconsistencies. Nothing wrong with fans looking down the road, but let's get this season underway and work out how to fill the considerable vacuum left by Darius.