Michigan Wolverines big man Mitch McGary's draft stock had never been better following his individual run in the 2013 NCAA tournament, and it may never be so high again. McGary will undergo lower back surgery that will keep him out for the rest of the 2013-14 college basketball season, and the injury only compounds the issues that were already limiting the sophomore.
Draft Express' 2014 mock draft updated on Dec. 13 had McGary going 21st overall in the 2014 draft, but now it seems unlikely McGary should declare at all. At this point, it would be surprising if he went in the first round in the 2014 draft after averaging 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds over eight games this season.
For a recent comparison, take what happened to former Ohio State Buckeyes forward Jared Sullinger into account. After the big man's freshman season, in which he was billed as a top-5 pick in a weak 2011 draft, Sullinger returning to school for his sophomore season. He played that year in its entirety, and quite well, but fell down draft boards when it was revealed a back injury was of concern. The Boston Celtics took him 21st overall, knowing he may need surgery, which he did eventually require.
McGary burst onto the scene by averaging 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds through six NCAA tournament games last year, and at one point Draft Express had him as the No. 9 prospect on the board. But his draft stock might never reach what it was after Michigan's postseason run.
McGary faces long odds to rekindle his lottery potential. Even if he recovers to play a junior season, he'd be 23 years old if he were to enter the 2015 draft. It's not significantly harmful, but being an older player for his class as is doesn't help when projecting a player's ceiling.
In the end, McGary has never been considered an elite athlete and through injury can maintain his role-player potential at the next level.
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