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Posted on Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

What could Mitch McGary do for Michigan basketball? More than just the obvious

By Nick Baumgardner

Related story: Mitch McGary handicaps his final three, decision between Michigan, Florida, Duke on Thursday

The short answer is simple.

If Brewster Academy mega-recruit Mitch McGary puts on a Michigan basketball hat Thursday, he instantly changes John Beilein's program.

The Wolverines' 2012 recruiting class suddenly shoots up the national rankings and Beilein gets a 6-foot-10, 250-pound power forward with seemingly limitless potential to add to his already promising roster for next season.

But from a big-picture recruiting standpoint, it would mean much, much more.

"This (would be) their highest-rated recruit since LaVell Blanchard," ESPN senior basketball recruiting analyst Dave Telep told earlier this week. "It has an opportunity to do something with their recruiting for other high-level guys.

"(If he commits), all eyes are going to be on Michigan. Will Michigan and Mitch McGary be successful?"

Telep explains how netting a prospect of McGary's caliber (he's the No. 2 player in the country according to instantly gives Michigan basketball the chance to slam its way back into the national recruiting scene.


Michigan basketball recruit Mitch McGary, the No. 2 high school player in the nation according to ESPN.

Bloomington Herald-Times

The program has been there before. It enticed Blanchard, the 1999 Gatorade national player of the year at Pioneer High School to cross the corner of Main and Stadium for college. Jerod Ward, the 1994 Naismith national player of the year came to Michigan from Clinton, Miss. And some guys named Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose were all top 10 national recruits in 1991.

Those days are, obviously, long gone.

Beilein has continually improved Michigan's perception from a recruiting standpoint since arriving in Ann Arbor, but catching a fish the size of McGary (literally and figuratively) could put the Wolverines back in the conversation with prospects who annually consider Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan State, Connecticut, Syracuse, et. al.

However, with a high-major prospect comes high-major expectations.

And should Michigan land McGary, its ability to fulfill those expectations will be the determining factor with how it's perceived from a national recruiting standpoint.

"Whenever you bring a guy in like this, it comes with two expectations," Telep said. "The first expectation is to win at a higher level immediately. The second thing is, does this guy turn out to be the player people think he is going in?

"While trying to win as many games as they can for however long Mitch is there, they also have to keep developing Mitch McGary, because the spotlight will be on them at that point."

McGary's AAU coach, Wayne Brumm, explained in a recent Detroit News article that Michigan's ability to develop a big man played a big role in McGary's initial interest in the school.

Development might be a reason why McGary ultimately sides with Beilein, and it might ultimately be the reason why future prospects of his caliber put Michigan on their short lists.

"That's how you get the next guy," Telep said. "The next one wants to see what the first one's end-game looked like."

On the floor, the gains McGary would provide are obvious.

Telep is quick to explain how Beilein has built his program at Michigan in a way that doesn't make a player of McGary's caliber a necessity for winning championships.

However, with a guy this good, it certainly wouldn't hurt, either.

"John Beilein doesn't need a top five player to win at Michigan, and it's important to understand that," Telep said. "The Michigan Wolverines under John Beilein were not built to rely on elite players every year. They were built within a structure of a team where the sum is greater than the individual parts.

"Michigan has the structure of a really good team. And now if you take an elite player and throw it into the mix, everything becomes more competitive at practice. Expectations rise. The whole team has to adjust to a guy like McGary."

The benefits are clear. McGary would give Michigan the dominating low-post threat it simply doesn't have right now. He could also help current Michigan big men Jordan Morgan, Evan Smotrycz, Jon Horford and Max Beilfeldt improve by competing with them every day.

He would provide instant impact. For how long? That remains unclear. Plenty of national analysts have pegged McGary as a potential "one-and-done" prospect, though Telep said, "I don't think it's unrealistic to say he could be (in college) for two years."

Landing McGary could help both the immediate and long-term fortunes of Beilein's program in a way Michigan hasn't seen in well beyond a decade.

Telep recently wrote a blog post pegging Michigan as the leader for McGary's services.

But it's not over until it's over.

And "almost had him" just isn't good enough.

"This is a bottom-line business," Telep said. "I think John Beilein would be the first guy to tell you that if you don't get a guy, you don't win.

"Just being in the chase at this level isn't good enough. You have to close the door and get the guy to consider it a win."

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



Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 7:58 p.m.

I'm failing at staving off the excitement of thinking about this recruit coming to play for the Maize and Blue. I'm not as knowledgeable about basketball scheme as I am about football, but from what I know about Beilein's style, this guy would work perfect to balance the perimeter shooting. It's exciting to think Michigan is the front runner, but with Duke in the picture, I won't hold my breath. I'm happy Michigan Basketball is rising above the murk of the Ed Martin Scandal to, once again, attract recruits of this caliber. Go Blue!


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 7:17 p.m.

From what I've read, Michigan is the best place for him (unbiased of course) given he wants to be in an offense that heavily uses the center or big man. McGary is the missing piece of the puzzle for Michigan's team. He's the dominant front-line player Beilein has lacked since he's been here. Michigan has been too one-dimensional, depending on the 3 point shot which the other team has been able to defend. With a much bigger inside presence, the other team couldn't cheat on defense like they could before. Also, we wouldn't get dominated on the defensive boards nearly as much. What I really like about McGary's scouting report is his high activity and intensity level. Unlike most bigs, he's extremely active and runs the floor really well. Getting him at Michigan would be absolutely huge for the program regardless of how long he stays.