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In the end it was all about balance between the fun he likes to have playing the game and the determination it takes to play it well. He finally achieved that equilibrium with help from his coaches and a few elder Wolverines that offered guidance.
“(Zack Novak) texted me (during the tournament) saying to keep up the good work, and good luck,” McGary recalled. “He had that toughness to him and he gave that to me a little bit. He just told me my freshman year (at Chesterton high when they were teammates) I was real immature and I needed to grow maturity-wise. He just told me to leave it all on the court. Play how you want to play, but leave it all on the court no matter what. That’s what I did.”
“(Jordan Morgan) kind of took me under his wing this year, right (from the) get-go,” McGary later added. “We would always hang out. I would go over his house and hang out and kick, play Xbox or whatever. Just build that bond, that better team bond that we needed throughout the whole. Him and Jon (Horford) have taught me so many things. Attitude – I always have good attitude. Picking guys up when they’re down. Just making big plays, trying to do the right things. And Jordan taught me a lot of footwork. Him and Bacari (Alexander) worked on me a tremendous amount with a lot of footwork and ball skills and just passing… a lot of step across moves, a lot of skill work. Jordan, I have to credit him for that for helping me throughout the whole year.”
The skill work was certainly an aspect of McGary’s development that headman John Beilein stressed. Once his 6-10, 250 lb. pupil mastered some of the fundamentals, the reigns from the bench loosened a bit.
“(Beilein) is pretty old school,” McGary stated. “I kind of like that. I’ve had a couple of young coaches. At Brewster (Prep) my coach was 37 (years old). He was more like a brother to us than a coach, but he was a great coach for us. I think just having Coach Beilein (makes me have) that attention to detail. Early in the season he made me work on pivoting and footwork three straight days. Twenty minutes after practice (for the championship game versus Louisville) he made me work on pivoting the high post. They’re Just the little things that mean a lot so that we don’t travel or something. I think what makes him different is just letting us play within a system. If we do the little things he asks and run his offense, then he’ll let us be a player.”
Next season McGary plans to be the kind of inside out threat he was in the tournament. After demonstrating just how dynamic he can be from the high post, he hopes to play there more often… much like the NBA player he has long looked up to.
“My favorite player is Lamar Odom,” said McGary. “Lefty, 6’10”… I try to model my game after him. (In the tournament) I had a few Lamar moments running the point. Just growing up I watched him with the Clippers and Lakers and I love him. I just love Lamar’s game and the way he can stretch the floor and stuff. Now that I’ve entered college people say that I remind them of David Lee and Kevin Love and stuff like that, but I fell in love with Lamar Odom. I’m not that much of a Kardashian fan (laughter). I just like Lamar overall. “
To view this feature in its entirety check out the next issue of GoBlueWolverine The Magazine.