Hello: Mitch McGary

Submitted by Ace on November 3rd, 2011 at 5:03 PM

I will keep my composure. I will keep my composure. I will keep my composure.


Well, I tried, but when Michigan hauls in their biggest basketball recruit since either LaVell Blanchard (1999) or Jerod Ward (1994) it's time to get excited. Mitch McGary chose the Wolverines today over Duke and Florida live on ESPNU, and lo, there is much rejoicing in Ann Arbor.


Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
5*, #1 C,
#2 Ovr
5*, #1 C,
#3 Ovr

5*, 97,
#1 C, #2 Ovr

5*, 100,
#3 C, #5 Ovr

All four services are in agreement that McGary is 6'10" and around 250 pounds (except ESPN, which has him at 225, which seems implausible), and all are in agreement that he's really, really good at basketball.

How good? Let's get to the evaluations, starting with ESPN:

McGary is a physically imposing presence in the paint with good size, tremendous upper body strength, and limitless energy and physicality. He is proactive seeking out contact inside, a consistent finisher, and high volume two way rebounder. He is incredibly active with a terrific motor and great toughness. The lefty is skilled enough to stretch the defense to 18 feet, has the dexterity to dunk with both hands in congestion, and sets big screens both on and off the ball. He runs well in straight lines and has pretty soft hands around the basket.

That's their "strengths" blurb, while areas to work on include developing a more polished post game, using his right hand more (he's a lefty), and his basketball I.Q.—they cite that he plays with "blind aggression," which seems to make sense when you're a 6'10" NBA prospect with outstanding mobility and finishing ability, but that's just me.

UMHoops caught McGary—as well as his AAU teammate and best friend, now-fellow 2012 commit Glenn Robinson III—at the Pittsburgh Jam Fest this spring:

McGary’s uncanny combination of size, strength, athleticism and coordination is extremely impressive because it allows him to do so much on the court. He loves to rebound the ball and push it up the court himself. He attacks the basket with a nice face-up game, although it’d be nice to see him play more with his back to the basket.

His decision making needs work as he often tries to do far too much before turning the ball over.He also tends to float to the perimeter a bit too much and loves to settle for jump shots despite having the tools to get a much better look at the basket. Overall, McGary was extremely impressive and he is on the verge of blowing up if he hasn’t already. The lefty’s flaws are correctable and easily outweighed by his size and talent.

I love imagining a 6'10" power forward leading the fast break, and now I don't have to, because he'll be doing it for Michigan and you can see him run the break in the highlights below. Also taking note of his precocious athletic talents was Eric Bossi of Rivals, who saw McGary at the NY2LA Summer Jam in July:

What a total animal this guy played like on Friday. First, the five-star big man broke Texas PRO in the first half with his ill-tempered length-of-the-court drives and rebounding, and he was able to rest himself for the championship after racking up 14 points and 16 boards. Then, looking as fresh as he would if he was playing his first game of the summer, he went out and dominated the paint in SYF's win over Dream Vision in the championship game. Bottom line, McGary is a competitor with a non-stop motor, great hands, great skill and even greater will.

ESPN's Paul Biancardi liked McGary's motor enough to deem it the best in the 2012 ESPN100, and also noted McGary's Novakian enthusiasm even when he's on the sideline:

It is difficult to find players who bring all-out effort and energy on a consistent basis, but McGary does it better than anyone. Not only does he bring energy to his own game, he gives it to his teammates. His motor never stops as he constantly works the backboard, runs the floor and dives on the floor for loose balls. His enthusiasm even carries over when he's on the bench as he cheers on his teammates and remains vocal. McGary has talent and physical tools, but his motor makes him special and will make him money one day.

Maybe the gritty grit grit stuff isn't coincidence, as McGary hails from Chesterton, Indiana, home of—you guessed it—Zack Novak, who hosted McGary on his official visit. McGary transferred after his junior season from Chesterton High School to Brewster Academy, a powerhouse school in New Hampshire, but I'm now strongly suspecting there's something in the water in Chesterton.

More scout drooling—plus a very interesting comparison—from Coast 2 Coast Recruiting:

When watching Mitch McGary play, it’s easy to envision a young David Lee. Whether he is effortlessly running the floor, shooting left-handed fadeaways, abusing the rim with powerful dunks, or blocking shots into next Wednesday, all punctuated by electric yells, it’s a beautiful sight to any basketball fan. The newly sculpted 6’10 250 pound power forward/center started tearing through the basketball world in the past three months at the NY2LA Swish ‘N Dish, The Adidas May Classic, The Pittsburgh Jam Fest, the Jayhawk Invitational, and most recently, the NBPA Top 100 camp.

I'm totally fine with the Lee comparison as long as it's related to offense—Lee was a McDonald's All-American in 2001 (and the slam dunk contest champ that year) who went to Florida and was drafted in the first round (30th overall) by the Knicks, and he became a 20-10 guy for them, but his lack of ability on the defensive end played a role in him getting shipped to basketball purgatory at Golden State last season. On the offensive end, Lee is a 6'9" PF/C with great athleticism for his size, a decent mid-range jumper, and he's an absolute demon on the boards.

Finally, I had to end with this quote by Scout's Brian Snow from today's timely Sam Webb article [emphasis mine]:

"To put it bluntly — (at Michigan) he'd be the starting center and the best player on the team the moment he walks on campus," Snow said emphatically. "I really don't see a scenario in which that isn't the case. He is probably the hardest playing kid in the country. There's absolutely no prima donna to him at all. He'll run through a wall for you, he'll dive on the floor. Then he is a pretty good athlete. He can really face the rim and handle the ball, especially against centers. He also scores down low, blocks shots, and he is one of the better rebounders in the country.

"We're talking about a kid that can do it all from the low post," said Daniels. "He can run, he has good hands, he plays hard and with energy, he rebounds, blocks shots, and he can score. Whatever school gets Mitch is getting a heck of a player and a major impact-type guy as soon as he sets foot on campus."

Yes, please.

Dylan also posted UMHoops's final scouting impressions of McGary and several other scouting reports (a couple of which appear above) yesterday in anticipation of Mitch McGary Day. It's well worth a read, and since I got half these links from Dylan, you should feel obligated to click over and give his fantastic site a read, especially on a day like today.


McGary boasted six offers, and they're from a who's who of basketball powerhouses: Aside from Michigan, he had scholarship offers from Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, and North Carolina. I suspect that offer list would've been much larger had McGary not reclassified from a 2011 to a 2012 recruit—transferring from his hometown of Chesterton to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire in the process—and blowing up relatively late by basketball recruiting standards.


Dylan posted an extensive video archive with a solid ten videos. Lots of good stuff there, and here's one of my favorites:

Yes, he ole'd a defender with an around-the-back dribble on the break and finished with a two-handed dunk from halfway to the free throw line. That was not a hallucination, unless I am also hallucinating, which hopefully is not the case.

Also, obligatory video of McGary shattering a backboard and then revealing his incredible nickname, "White Thunder":

/BOOM Tractor Traylor'd (RIP)


He's gonna start. I know, I'm going way out on a limb there. Here's what Michigan's lineup will likely look like for the 2012-13 season (McGary's freshman year), with the not-entirely-safe-but-certainly-not-crazy assumption that Tim Hardaway Jr. sticks around for his junior season:

PG: Trey Burke (backup: Carlton Brundidge)
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Matt Vogrich/Nick Stauskas)
SF: Evan Smotrycz (Glenn Robinson III)
PF: Mitch McGary (Evan Smotrycz/Jon Horford)
C: Jordan Morgan (Jon Horford)

That's, well, a really good team. Big Ten contender, dangerous in the NCAA tournament good. And if you believe Brian Snow, McGary will be the best player on a team featuring a junior Tim Hardaway Jr.—you have permission to get hype, people. McGary should be contending for all-conference honors as soon as he steps on campus, and has the potential to do even more than that.

As for whether or not McGary will stick around beyond his freshman season, that's certainly in question. From Nick Baumgardner at AnnArbor.com:

[McGary] 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 [ESPN recruiting analyst Dave] Telep said, "I don't think it's unrealistic to say he could be (in college) for two years."

I'll take two years of McGary in a heartbeat, obviously. It's easy to accept these things if a player is likely going to have a huge impact right away, especially when it means Michigan will likely be on the radar of future top recruits in a way they haven't been in over a decade.


McGary joins forward Glenn Robinson III (Rivals's #34 overall prospect) and guard Nick Stauskas (#79) in the class of 2012, and that will wrap things up with a dramatic flourish for that year's group. The Wolverines are already full for the class of 2013, with four-stars Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin and three-stars Mark Donnal and Austin Hatch (although Hatch's status as a 2013 recruit is in doubt after the tragic plane crash—he will likely reclassify as a 2014 player if he can continue his basketball career) already in the fold.

Yes, Michigan is already moving on to the 2014 class. Beilein Uber Alles. Really, the job the Beilein and assistant Bacari Alexander did with this recruitment was phenomenal by all accounts. I had to pull another quote from Sam Webb's article, because it should get you extremely excited for the future of the program (as if you're not already):

"What I really like about Michigan is its coaching staff, especially Bacari Alexander," said McGary in his ESPN blog Wednesday. "He's probably one of the most underrated coaches in the country. He really knows what he's doing with the big men. I just like that I can trust the coaches there, and I actually like that they're not on the biggest stage yet. That gives me the opportunity to go there and make a huge impact from day one."

Cue the Muppets, if Brian hasn't posted them already.



November 3rd, 2011 at 5:22 PM ^

PG: Trey Burke (Nick Stauskas)
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Carlton Brundidge)
SF: Matt Vogrich (Glenn Robinson III)
PF: Evan Smotrycz (Jon Horford)
C: Mitch McGary (Jordan Morgan)



November 3rd, 2011 at 5:53 PM ^

Smot would have to really make some leaps defensively to stick at the 3 spot - or Michigan would have to play more zone.  You can say the same about Vogrich, but I think that, as a Senior and reliable floor spacer (which Bielien loves) Vogrich will probably start.



November 3rd, 2011 at 6:24 PM ^

I agree with not you on this one. I doubt two year returning starter Jordan Morgan goes to the bench so that Vogrich can start at the three. McGary is more of a four than a five, and Horford is a five. Your line up is possible when we want to go small, but not our typical line up. I bet GRIII sees more time at the three than Vogrich, I think.

I like Vogrich, but he'll never start for us. We've got too much talent coming in.


November 3rd, 2011 at 6:39 PM ^

But Morgan is starting because A) He worked great with Morris and B) there was no other viable option.  The fact that Novak was at the 4 and Smot was used at 5 shows how thin Michigan was.  Some of that is by design, but there was no real alternative to starting Morgan.

Vogrich may be too limited, but he'll be the lone senior next year.  I could see GR3 beating him out, THJ sticking to the 3, or some variant of that - but no way is Smot going to start at SF.  Book it!  Or at least my opinion on it...


November 4th, 2011 at 10:01 AM ^

So, if Hardaway comes back for his junior year, he and McGary are locks to start. Hardaway can play 2 or 3. McGary 4 or 5. Burke is most likely 1 but Brundige could play there too. The biggest question is how Smotrycz improves vs. has Morgan reached the peak of his potential. Also, how good of a shooter can McGary become? Belien wants his 4 to shoot the three. With his current range, he is a 5 in Belien's system. Also, can Brundige run the point? Will Brundige be our best 2 guard or will GRIII be so good we have to get him in the lineup and move Hardaway to 2 so GRIII can start at 3.

My guess for starting lineup.

Burke (Brundige)

Brundige (Hardaway, Vogrich, Stauskas)

Hardaway (GRIII, Vogrich, Stauskas)

Smotrycz (McGary, Morgan)

McGary (Morgan, Horford)

Even if Hardaway doesn't come back, I think this lineup looks good too. 

Burke (Brundige)

Brundige (Stauskas)

GRIII (Vogrich)

Smotrycz (McGary)

McGary (Morgan, Horford)

I love Morgan but it really comes down to Smotrycz vs. him to start. If McGary doesn't have the 3 point range of Smotrycz, I expect it to be Morgan who comes off the bench. I think occaisionally we will see Morgan and McGary together when we want more size/power but I don't think Smotrycz can cover the 3 so he will be on the bench in those situations.


Blue boy johnson

November 4th, 2011 at 10:11 AM ^

Based on last season, I don't think there is any way in hell Smot can check a 3. I think McGary would do a better job defensively on a three.

McGary has made a great choice, while he is a fantastic talent, parts of his game are a little crude, working with Belien and Bacari on a daily basis will do wonders for his game.

Speaking of Bacari Alexander, I think McGary's choice should pretty much ensure Bacari will be around next season.

San Diego Mick

November 3rd, 2011 at 5:27 PM ^

After almost a decade and a half of frustration with the B-Ball Program, albeit we've had some nice seasons here and there, but not the perennially top 10/15 teams I was accustomed to most of my life from the early 70's.

After watching film of this kid, man can he ball!!! He can shoot, dribble, block shots, be creative and hustle too, I love it!!!


Welcome to AA Mitch, good luck to you in your career and Go Blue!!!



November 3rd, 2011 at 5:34 PM ^

CONGRATULATIONS MITCH!  You made one of the best decisions in your life.  My 4 years in Ann Arbor were some of the best times of my life and created memories I will cherish forever.  Regardless of how long you stay, enjoy your time there.  Study hard, play hard, and HAVE FUN!  Oh, and GO BLUE!

(This one deserved some all-caps)


November 3rd, 2011 at 5:40 PM ^

is that really going to be our starting 5?

that is  a huge lineup, with smot as a 3? 

then again he'd be a junior and (hopefully) hard to keep off the court. 

Hardaway is more of a 2 at the next level, but i jsut see struggles on D with smot as a 3


November 3rd, 2011 at 5:41 PM ^

One complaint:

Smotrycz's defense will prevent him from EVER playing 3. He just can't do it. Beilein wants 4's who can step out and shoot, and has recruited players to fill this specific profile: Smotrycz will be the 4.

And sorry, the 6'11" McGary isn't moving to PF so the 6'8" Morgan can stay at C. Morgan will be a backup for a year.

Also - Hardaway has yet to play ANY SG. I think you see Brundidge and Stauskas manning that spot, with Hardaway, GRIII, and Vogrich at the 3.


November 3rd, 2011 at 5:54 PM ^

If I was a betting man, I'd say that the 2012 team will play more 1-3-1 to take advantage of the length of a McGary/Morgan/Smot frontcourt and negate any quickness concerns.  The 1-3-1, as we've been told ad nauseum, is a defense that relies on that length to deny skip passes across the zone.  It's gonna be beautiful! 


November 3rd, 2011 at 5:58 PM ^

Yeah, I can see Hardaway as a 2. I think he needs to improve his handle a bit to get there, but yeah.

Really, I just think 2 is Brundidge's destination - he's ranked as high, if not higher than Burke (although we tend to forget about Carlton) - I don't think he's going to spend 4 years backing Trey up.


November 4th, 2011 at 10:13 AM ^

IF Hardaway comes back, the real question is whether a sophomore Brundige is better than a freshman GRIII. If its Brundige, then Hardaway at the 3. If GRIII, then Hardaway at the 2.

Similar to frontcourt. Will McGary improve his three point shooting enough to play the 4? If so, it comes down to who is better Morgan (5) vs Smotrycz (4 or 5).

Either Brundige or GRIII comes off the bench and either Morgan or Smotrycz. This is a good problem to have as long as Belien can keep egos in check. I don't think it will be a problem with those 4.


November 4th, 2011 at 10:31 AM ^

I think I misspelled his name about 100 times so far today.

I do like Stauskas, but if you have Brundidge (sophomore), Vogrich(senior) (and maybe Hardaway) for the two how many minutes do you think he takes away from them? I think GRIII is going to be special and will force Hardaway to the 2 for a good chunk of  minutes and I think Brundige will be good enough to get minutes although he can also man the 1. Stauskas may just need to wait until his sophomore year to really show what he can do.

Blue boy johnson

November 4th, 2011 at 10:42 AM ^

I don't think Vogrich will ever play 2 nor GRIII for that matter. We will see when they get on campus next season, but I see Stauskas being more college ready than GRIII, but there is a lot of Bball to be played between now and next season.

I didn't think Hardaway  could play 2 last season and taking a wait and see towards this season. But, Belien said Hardaway is very good taking guys off the dribble, so I am hoping Hardaway will show us that part of his game this year. Going to be fun going forward.


November 3rd, 2011 at 5:51 PM ^

I think McGary can fit in well at the four because he's a better perimeter player than Morgan, and I think Morgan is good enough to stay in the starting lineup as a redshirt junior. Smotrycz won't ever be extremely quick, but I think it's too early to rule out his ability to play the three—that gives Michigan a huge lineup that can still run with great depth. Having Hardaway, Smotrycz, and Vogrich all at the three seems to be a waste of talent, and I like Vogrich as the backup at the two while Stauskas gets a feel for the college game.

The potential lineup doesn't matter too much, anyway, since Beilein is not afraid to switch things up depending on matchups (both in-game and from game-to-game). He has a lot of versatile talent at his disposal, and he'll probably have a lot of fun seeing all the different looks he can throw out there.


November 3rd, 2011 at 5:55 PM ^

Sure, it's all guesswork, and these guys will have a full-season of performance to shape our opinions before it's relevent.

I just can't see Smotrycz getting to the point where he can guard Tim Hardaway on the bounce - can you? Most of his defensive training that I've read of has been trying to teach him to guard the post, anyway.


November 3rd, 2011 at 6:22 PM ^

He might not be quick (okay, he isn't) but Smotrycz has length going for him, which presents a different set of problems for smaller wing players trying to get around him. Also, do they really want to go to the basket if McGary and Morgan are waiting to send layups into the 15th row?

But no, I don't see Smotrycz keeping up with Hardaway one-on-one. Another reason to be glad THJ is on our side.


November 3rd, 2011 at 6:21 PM ^

He was great as a pick-n-roll player with Morris, but he's shown very little else other than being a competant banger.  We'll know more after this season.  How Morgan functions beside another 'true' big men remains to be seen - it also remains to be seen if Bielien wants 2 post players in simultaneously. To push Smot out to 3, Morgan would have to be a better overall player than all the wing players (besides THJ who is locked in) and it would necessitate Bielien changing his style.



November 3rd, 2011 at 6:12 PM ^

Smot/Mcgary will be at 4/5, respectively.  However, you could see some Smot at 3 if they're willing to play zone (and you know they are).  If Horford or McGary develop range they could play 4 beside each other (or Morgan).

I don't know if the 2 and 3 are that different, THJ can certainly learn it by next year.

Bielien is going to get his best players on the floor.  If that means Novak at the 2 or 4, he'll do it.  If it means Sims at the 5, he'll do that too.  McGary, THJ, Burke, and Smot are going to play a lot, beyond them - who knows. The pressure is going to be on Morgan and Horford to prove they deserve more time than Vogrich, GR3, etc.



November 4th, 2011 at 12:19 AM ^

Agreed. The 1-5 stuff is convenient nomenclature, but ultimately a good coach (and Coach B is one) is going to get his best players on the floor.

Offensively, you need ballhandling, enough so that you can avoid being turned over and get into your offense in a reasonable amount of time. But after you have a guy with a great handle or a couple guys with good handles, you can build your lineup to suit personnel, system, taste, etc. There's no need to force a 1-5 traditional scheme.

Defensively, you need enough size to avoid getting auto-dunked, enough strength to rebound, and enough team athleticism to defend the perimeter. Zone can help somewhat with that last one. But again, there's no need to force people into a 1-5 scheme.

All that in mind, I bet we see a lineup of McGary, Smot, THJ, GB3, TB.