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Mitch McGary Commits to Michigan

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As expected, five star power forward Mitch McGary announced on ESPNU that he would be attending Michigan for the 2011-2012 season. I don't think that the impact of this commitment can be understated. McGary is the best recruit to choose Michigan since Jerod Ward picked the Wolverines in 1994, and he could wind up being the best big man to play at Michigan since Chris Webber's stint with the Fab Five. When asked what his goals were on ESPNU after he picked Michigan, McGary simply said "I'd like to bring a National Championship to Michigan next year."

If you're now coming here, you've probably already heard about McGary's recruiting accolades:

  • ESPN: #2 overall player, #1 power forward
  • Scout: #2 overall player, #1 center
  • Rivals: #3 overall player, #2 forward
  • 247 Sports: #5 overall player, #2 center
Other than Shabazz Muhammad, McGary is the best player in the class of 2012. He was a class of 2011 prospect before reclassifying the the class of 2012 to work on his grades at the Brewster Academy, and after qualifying, Michigan put the full-court press on him. Mitch chose Michigan over his other finalists, Florida and Duke, turning down a who's who offer list including UConn, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky. Michigan recruited him very early on -- way back in 2009 -- and that early jump helped give them an edge once Mitch made the jump from a fringe Top-100 prospect to an elite five star.

More on McGary after the jump

UMHoops on what stands out with McGary:

Energy: Energy is easily the first thing that stands out when watching McGary plays the game. He plays the game with a sort of reckless abandon that you rarely see from players as physically imposing and highly rated. He may have a happy go lucky personality off the court but he’s extremely aggressive on the floor.
Size and Coordination: McGary is surprisingly coordinated for his 6-foot-10, 250 pound, frame. He can get up and down the floor, finish around the basket (or dunk) with both hands and make an impressive impact defensively. Mitch might not have a 40-inch vertical but he’s plenty athletic to change the game around the basket.
Rebounding: It’s no surprise that McGary’s size, athleticism and motor combined result in a terrific rebounder. He rebounds beyond his area and seems to genuinely enjoy being a different maker on the glass.
Ball Skills: What sets McGary apart from other 6-foot-10, 250 pound, big men is his ability to grab a defensive rebound and push the ball up the floor by himself. He has surprisingly smooth ball handling ability and also isn’t afraid to share the ball

Oh, and if you haven't already gone through all of the UMHoops content over the last few days, I'd highly recommend doing so. They've been scouting McGary since the very beginning of his recruitment, and they've done an absolutely terrific job of covering the last few days of his recruitment and his commitment.

Scout briefly summarizes his skills:

A post player with a solid skill level, McGary has really come along since re-classifying from 2011 to 2012. He can score inside and out with a strong face up game along with the ability to drive to the basket. McGary plays mostly below the rim, and isn't a great shot blocker.

Coast 2 Coast Hoops chimes in on his commitment:

McGary is a unique talent because of his size and surprisingly polished and diverse skill set. Known first for being a physical presence in the paint, McGary shot up the rankings when he displayed a vastly improved jumpshot and ability to put the ball on the floor this summer. At nearly every camp and AAU event over the last six months, McGary blew the competition away. He blossomed into an unstoppable force due to his rapid improvement, and as a result he shot to the top of most rankings. With a well-rounded offensive game and fantastic motor, McGary projects to be a major factor at the college level, and is a huge get for Michigan.

Since Mitch is a highly touted prospect, there's no shortage of video of him out on Youtube and other sites. Here are a few:

As you can see, there's a reason why Mitch McGary is one of the most ballyhooed players in his class. He's much stronger, much bigger, and much more skilled than the competition, and he uses those strengths to his advantage. The tenacity he shows on the glass and getting towards the rim is something that Michigan fans haven't seen in a long time (mostly because this combination of intensity, strength and size is incredibly rare). His game needs some refining of course, but he's probably ready to go from day one. He can step out and hit the mid to long range shot, take his man off of the dribble, and simply overpower people inside. On defense, he's not a phenomenal shot-blocker but he's still above-average. Add in his tremendous rebounding ability, and McGary is a difference maker on both ends of the court.

Like I said earlier, the importance of his commitment cannot be understated. Having the national championship as the primary goal is pretty ambitious, but hey, why not? Beilein has steadily built a very good program with good recruits and great coaching, but now, Michigan can finally move among the truly elite. Michigan should be the favorite to win the Big Ten next year if everything goes according to plan, and if Hardaway sticks around too, Michigan could easily be a top ten team. This could be a potential starting lineup:

Those are all Top-100 players starting, three of whom are upperclassmen and two of whom would be multi-year starters. Morgan is a really good player, but McGary would probably take the starting job from him. Looking even longer, if McGary stays for more than one year (which would be incredibly fortunate), he'll pair up with Glenn Robinson III and Nick Stauskas as part of a Top Five recruiting class in Ann Arbor.

As for the long-term significance of getting a commitment from a guy like McGary, I'll turn this over to UMHoops:
Mitch McGary isn’t the first domino, he’s the final domino. John Beilein has already landed seven other top 100 players in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 classes – talented players in their own right – but McGary is the player that elevates Michigan from conference contender to national contender. On the court, McGary and his 2012 classmates join a team that could return as many as four starters. John Beilein’s best recruits to date will be competing for playing time with his most experienced and accomplished players in Ann Arbor.

Off the court the McGary commitment could be equally as important. His commitment will act as a catalyst toward Michigan’s newfound recruiting momentum. Recruits want to play with other top recruits and McGary’s pledge gives the Michigan coaches the cachet to walk into any living room and sell their school.

Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the ride. It might have taken a bit longer than expected but John Beilein has his players and his program. Just one year after the program appeared to be on the verge of crumbling, the future and direction of Michigan basketball is as bright as it’s been since the mid 1990s.

Well said, Dylan. It's a great time to be a Michigan Wolverine.