April is a month that Michigan fans have grown to hate. The month has become synonymous not with the end of the season but with attrition.
Manny Harris left after his junior season in 2010 and Darius Morris continued the early entry trend in 2011. Last spring, Trey Burke flirted with the NBA before returning to school while Evan Smotrycz headlined a large group of transfers out of John Beilein’s program.
Michigan is the youngest team in the NCAA tournament this season and will face a Kansas team that starts four seniors on Friday evening. John Beilein emphasized the importance of nurturing experience in the program.
“Right now Michigan has had growing crowds, great facilities and really good teammates [to get to that point of stability]. That’s the formula that it takes,” Beilein said at a press conference on Tuesday. “And [we want to] recruit the right kids who are unpacking their bags when they get here so that we aren’t renting them for a couple of years before so they can go somewhere else or transfer.”
Attrition – both by transfer and early entry to the NBA Draft – is a large part of the current high major college basketball landscape. When Michigan’s 2012-13 season – its most successful in two decades – ends, attrition is assuredly going to be a hot topic once again.
Despite Burke’s subpar (by his standards) weekend at the Palace, he continues to rise up Ford’s big board into the top 10:
So how did he rise three spots on our board? Because every scout I spoke with was so impressed with his poise, toughness and leadership ability despite the tough games. Most common comment I’ve heard from NBA GMs this week is “Trey Burke is the real deal.” If he can lead Michigan past Kansas and probably Florida to the Final Four, he’s got a shot to leapfrog a few more guys on the Big Board and get into the top 5 or 6 in this draft.
Ford also raved about Robinson, bumping him up from 24 to 16 on his big board:
Robinson may have helped his draft stock more than anyone on our Big Board this week. After coming up with a few empty performances against elite teams in the Big Ten, he’s had two big games for Michigan in the tournament, going for 21 points on 8-for-9 shooting against South Dakota State and for 14 points and nine boards on 7-for-10 shooting against VCU. He’s still raw offensively and depends on Burke to set him up, but he has all the physical tools of a NBA small forward and is showing increased confidence at the right time. Someone will roll the dice on him in the 10-to-20 range if he decides to declare.
Mitch McGary also raised his stock with his monster weekend:
McGary struggled coming out of the gate for Michigan, but he has been on fire of late and put up two very strong games for Wolverines, including career highs in points (21) and rebounds (14) against a feisty VCU team on Saturday. McGary is particularly skilled. However, he has a great motor, has NBA strength even as a first-year college player and ranks No. 8 nationally in offensive rebound percentage. He clearly is benefitting from having an elite point guard like Trey Burke setting him up, and he’s older than your average freshman (he actually turns 21 before the draft this year), but rebounding typically translates at the next level — as do toughness and motor. McGary went a long way this weekend toward putting himself firmly on the NBA radar as a potential second-round prospect
In Ford’s latest who’s in, who’s out update he listed Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. as prospects with “one foot out the door” and Glenn Robinson III as a “50-50” player. Draft Express slots Burke at No. 10 in its latest mock draft with Robinson projected as the 6th overall pick in 2014. Tim Hardaway Jr. is also projected as the first pick in the second round in the 2014 draft. NBADraft.net projects Burke at No. 12, Robinson at No. 14 and Tim Hardaway Jr. at No. 19 in its latest mock draft.
Robinson addressed his draft situation last week before the South Dakota State game.
“It’s kind of hard at times to ignore that. Everybody’s going to be talking about that,” Robinson said. “I definitely keep that in mind because I think every player does. But I’m just going to continue out this year, and then after this year we’ll see what happens and we’ll see what I’m going to do next.”
Burke, who most expect to enter the draft, echoed those sentiments but insists he’ll make his decision after the season.
“Pushing it aside is not really hard because obviously I like college a lot and I’m looking forward to going deep in this tournament. Honestly, I’m trying not to really think about the next level right now. That’s something I’ll think about after the season,” Burke insisted. “Last summer, when I was actually thinking about it, it got overwhelming — you guys already know about that. This year, as far as this season goes, I’ve had so much fun with the team — just being at the top, going back down, winning, losing — I haven’t really thought about it a lot. It’s not something that’s been overwhelming, it’s just something I’ll definitely think about and take into consideration at the end of the season.”
Michigan’s All-American point guard did admit on Dan Patrick’s radio show that the decision would be much easier if Michigan won the National Championship.
Burke also mentioned that he hasn’t spent much time counseling Michigan’s other players on the draft process.
“More so Glenn and some of the freshmen that potentially have that opportunity. Tim doesn’t really need any type of guidance, he knows what it’s like. As far as Glenn and Nik, they may ask me questions about the process sometimes and I’m able to tell them about it. … It’s probably going to a be a ‘we’ll see, I don’t know yet,’ depending on how the season goes.”
Beilein discussed the important but precarious nature of convincing kids to stay in school.
“The only approach you can have is you have to really build your relationships with your players to make it the best place they can be, without going to the point where you’re not teaching them to be a man. You just do what you do and you can’t control it as much as you think you can control it. You just try to create that atmosphere that enriches their life and they appreciate it.
“Are we going to go and recruit a different kid? No you don’t know [what will happen], they are 18-years old and we get them and we hope they are going to get here and unpack their bags. Or they are in a situation their second or third year and it’s too good to leave.”
That has been the case for a couple of Michigan’s best draft prospects. Nobody was talking about Trey Burke or Glenn Robinson III as a future pro when they signed letters of intent. That point wasn’t lost on Beilein.
“We’ve had a couple of guys that were not coming out of high school seen as pro prospects that are pro prospects,” Beilein emphasized. “It’s a good problem to have.”
For now, Michigan’s talented group is focused on the task at hand – winning two games in North Texas to advance to the Final Four – but when the final whistle of the season blows it will be time for some difficult decisions to be made.