Some players have an “it” factor.
When it comes to Michigan freshman center, Mitch McGary, his “it” factor without any doubt is his relentless energy on the court.
“That’s what I do,” McGary said. “I come in and bring the same intensity. And If I get an easy basket or a dunk or steal, dive on the ground, something just a loose ball hustle type play, then my teammates usually feed off of it. It goes into the bench and I just try to hype the crowd up and the bench. And everybody feeds off that too.”
At 6-foot-10, 256-pounds, McGary has been a source of energy for the Wolverines all season long. But since being inserted in the starting lineup at the start of the NCAA tournament, McGary has been a whole new source of energy for the Maize and Blue. While nobody is going to say he’s better than Big Ten Player of the Year, Trey Burke, some could argue the he’s been the most important piece to Michigan’s run to the Final Four in Atlanta.
McGary, has shot 33-of-45, scoring 68 points, with 46 rebounds and 11 steals in four NCAA Tournament games. That’s good for a 73 percent shooting, 17 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game.
Not too bad, considering McGary has only six career starts under his belt. But even with the lack of starting experience, McGary never wavered and was always ready to assume the starting spot when the time came.
“I’ve been ready since day one,” McGary said. “Since the start of the year. I mean, I like to play. That’s why I came here. I wanted to play. I know that I need to earn it. I think all year long staying on the grind and staying focused got me the starting spot.”
Tim Hardaway Jr., who was named All-Big Ten First-Team, said he wasn’t “surprised” when McGary was named the starter last month. He said with McGary’s added energy to the starting lineup only helps the team start off stronger in games.
“Just feeding off him, he gives that energy, that spark out there,” Hardaway Jr. said. “Especially, when he was coming off the bench. Now that he’s starting, I feel it has uplifted from out starts to get quicker starts. It’s all going to surround him. He fires us up as a team before we go on the court. Its’ great to see that from such a young guy.”
McGary’s energy has been around since high school, said freshman guard, Spike Albrecht, who has played basketball with McGary since elementary school.
“Every since high school he has been like that,” Albrecht said. “I’ve played with him since fourth grade, we were playing AAU. High school, you know he got a little crazy out there. But everyone feeds off of him. He plays well when he’s energetic.”
The next stop for McGary is the Final Four, which has been his goal since stepping onto campus last summer—and become a reality once he became a starter.
“I know I just needed to step up,” McGary said. “They gave me the starting job and I know I needed to bring the energy right off the bat if we wanted to win, that’s why I came here. I wanted to win. I wanted to get back to the Final Four.”