Before announcing his decision to undergo back surgery, Michigan forward Mitch McGary averaged 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds over eight games in an injury-shortened sophomore campaign.
(Melanie Maxwell | The Ann Arbor News)
ANN ARBOR -- Mitch McGary's surgically repaired back -- its progress, current state and impact on his skills and conditioning -- is among the key issues weighing on the Michigan forward's potential 2014 NBA draft prospects.
McGary is among three U-M players facing the decision of entering the draft or returning to Ann Arbor for a junior season.
McGary's situation, however, is entirely unique. A "lower-back condition" and ensuing surgery derailed his sophomore season and set him on a long path of rehabilitation and recovery.
According to coach John Beilein, that road is now finding some traction. McGary is partaking in basketball activities and gradually making headway.
"He did an individual (workout) with me (on Tuesday) that was limited to 20 minutes but it was very good," Beilein said on Wednesday.
Having only played eight games last season, much of McGary's pro potential hinges on whether he's able to partake in individual workouts with NBA teams, should he decide to declare for the draft.
If that's to occur, Beilein believes McGary will be ready.
"I assume that if he makes that decision (to enter the draft), that he's certainly progressing in that direction (of being able to work out for teams)," Beilein said.
Individual workouts with teams don't begin until after May 2, giving McGary another three weeks to sharpen his game and get in shape.
Last week, an NBA Eastern Conference scout speaking to MLive on the condition of anonymity, said McGary will "have to work out (for NBA teams) and do well in the workouts."
The scout noted McGary's health will be "picked apart in (the draft) process" and that, if healthy, he could be selected "anywhere from late in the first round to late in the second."
Beilein said McGary's rehabilitation has been conducted "non-stop." Now basketball workouts have been added and are being carefully monitored.
"We've been increasing it," Beilein said of the workouts. "He was 15 minutes, now he's at 20 minutes and (it will increase to) 25 minutes. We'll try and progress it very slowly."
McGary averaged 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds before deciding to undergo surgery this season. He was a preseason All-American after deciding to return to school following a freshman campaign that ended with a dominant showing the NCAA tournament.
As he did last spring, McGary recently requested an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee to find a clearer picture of his potential draft position. He was one of at least three U-M player to request evaluations.
Robinson and Stauskas are also currently awaiting reports from the committee. Beilein said additional players requested evaluations, but wouldn't divulge names.
Requesting an evaluation from the Undergraduate Advisory Committee does not equate to declaring for the draft.
The committee must respond to all evaluation requests by April 14. The final day for non-seniors to declare for the draft is April 27.
Beilein said he has met with each interested player, but wouldn't expand on any players' leanings.
"As we go through the process we will continue to give them as much information as it comes in from the NBA Advisory (Committee) and from other people involved in professional basketball that can advise us," Beilein said. "We're trying to give them as much as possible."
Last spring saw Michigan lose sophomore Trey Burke and junior Tim Hardaway Jr. to the draft.
"It's not easier, but it's something that we're comfortable navigating through," Beilein said of the early entry process. "It's always going to be something that is very fluent and there's a lot of emotion in it. You try to just to help them make educated decisions."
NBA DRAFT KEY DATES
April 9: NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee application deadline
April 14: NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee response deadline
April 15: NCAA early entry "withdrawal" deadline
April 27: NBA draft early entry eligibility deadline (11:59 pm ET)
May 2: NBA draft early entry candidates released
May 14-18: NBA draft combine in Chicago
May 20: NBA draft Lottery
June 16: NBA draft early entry withdrawal deadline (5:00 pm ET)
June 26: 2014 NBA draft
More information on the early entry process can be found HERE.
Brendan F. Quinn covers University of Michigan basketball and football. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on Wolverines hoops. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org