Michigan basketball standout Mitch McGary has opted to enter the 2014 NBA Draft after testing positive for marijuana in an NCAA-mandated drug test that would have suspended the sophomore for an entire year. He was tested during last month’s NCAA tournament, for which he was sidelined due to a back-injury that kept out of all but eight games of the 2013-14 season.
The 6’10” forward burst on the scene as a freshman last season, playing a pivotal role for a Michigan team that went all the way to the National Championship game and lost to Louisville. A preseason All-America selection at the start of the year, McGary’s decision to return to school took a hit before the season even began, as a lower back injury forced him out of the first two games. He would return against Iowa State, but produced just nine points and six boards in a cautious 22 minutes on the court, then battled through the back pain to mixed results over the course of the next seven games, but decided to undergo season-ending back surgery in January.
McGary announced his positive test and decision to forego his remaining two years of eligibility in a statement to the media Friday.
“My family and I would like to thank everyone for giving us the privacy and time to make this decision,” he said. “It was important for us to consider all the factors that go into a choice like this and I am ready to move on to the next stage of my life and enter the NBA Draft.”
McGary added that he felt it was important to also announce his poor decision in testing positive for marijuana during the NCAA Tournament, saying that he first learned of the results during the Final Four and he regretted disappointing his family and coaches.
McGary’s focus now shifts to readying himself for the NBA, a task that some insiders see as coming a bit too soon. According to an NBA scout that spoke to Michigan news outlet MLive on condition of anonymity, McGary can expect his health to be heavily scrutinized through intensive medical background checks and physicals. NBA teams will also require, the scout said, that the doctor who performed his surgery be thoroughly interviewed and that a battery of tests be performed. The scout noted that the NBA views back injuries as being more serious than other injuries.
McGary was seen as a potential lottery pick after a solid freshman campaign, but given that he has not taken the court in over three months, his being selected at all is uncertain at this point. Michigan’s run to the Final Four last year is virtually his entire body of work. It is, however, a good one. In six tournament games, McGary averaged 14.3 points and 10.6 rebounds after averaging 7.5 ppg and 6.3 rpg during the regular season. Then in the third round, he exploded for 21 points and 14 rebounds in a 78-53 thrashing of VCU, and went for 25 and 14 in an 87-85 overtime thriller over Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen.
Commentary by Rick Sarlat