ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- For the second straight off-season the Michigan basketball program loses two underclassmen to the NBA as sophomores Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III officially declared themselves eligible for the draft in a press conference at Crisler Center Tuesday afternoon.
Winning 59 games in their two seasons in Ann Arbor, appearing in a National Championship game, two straight Elite Eights, and winning a Big Ten regular season championship, Robinson III and Stauskas feel they’re ready to take on the challenge of professional basketball and the life the NBA brings.
"I talked a lot with the coaches and my parents about what they thought I could do and kind of where I was projected to go,” Stauskas said Tuesday. “And I just felt this was a really good decision for me to leave at this point and achieve my goal to play in the NBA.”
“As far as making my decision, talking to my mother, my grandma, and my dad, along with the coaching staff, they really helped a lot,” Robinson III explained. “Not only that, making my decision last year definitely helped me with the option of leaving or staying last year and going through that whole process kind of calmed things down and eased it a little bit.
“So, I definitely think I made the right decision. I’m just ready to take it from here.”
From this point, individual workouts and meetings will dictate where exactly Robinson III and Stauskas will head in the draft.
As it currently stands, Stauskas is projected as a middle of the first round selection, possibly a lottery pick when it’s all said and done.
Robinson III, who could’ve been a late first round pick or even higher just a year ago, is projected to go early in the second round but with strong workouts for teams could slide into the first round similar to Tim Hardaway Jr. in 2013.
Either way, for a program such as Michigan’s that went through the darkest of times in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, having four of five starters from a national title runner up team selected in the NBA draft is quite a feat.
Despite the constant movers and shakers every off-season, Michigan coach John Beilein couldn’t be happier for his Wolverines.
“We are very excited today about the opportunities, the future of these two young men,” Beilein said. “We’ve been with them for these two years since they entered here two June’s ago and it’s incredible the amount of work they’ve done to put themselves in this position.
“We’re excited for them. These are two of the hardest working young men we’ve ever been around. If you look at the last paragraphs of your press release and look at what their teams, with the help of many others, past and standing over there in the corner, what they have been able to accomplish in Michigan basketball history is incredible.
“They’re excited, we’re excited, our coaching staff is very proud. I have to applaud our coaching staff with how they’ve developed these young men and we’ll be rooting for them every step of the way as they go after their goals of being NBA players.”
Both Stauskas and Robinson III said neither had selected or signed with an agent at this point in the process, indicating that decision should be ironed out soon.
Meanwhile, Michigan still awaits the decision of sophomore center Mitch McGary who is still considering returning to Ann Arbor for a third season.
Stauskas alluded to the thought of he, Robinson III and McGary all returning for one more year together, just to see what they could all accomplish, but the allure of the NBA and opportunity in front of them was too much to ignore.
“It’s tough just because the amount of success we’ve had in our two years at Michigan,” Stauskas said. “At the same time, realizing or just imagining the kind of success we could have if we all decided to come back for a third year.
“You can’t help but think what that would look like. That’s what made it really tough for me is the relationships that I have with the players and the coaching staff here and I’m really going to miss them.
“But at the same time, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’ve been dreaming about this since I was about seven or eight years old so the fact that this opportunity is in front of me now, I feel like I’m ready and I’m happy to go after this right now.”
Dealing with a fair amount of criticism in his time in Ann Arbor, Robinson III thanked Coach Beilein and the Michigan coaching staff for promoting confidence in his ability, difficult for him, as a captain, to leave his Wolverines behind.
“For me the toughest thing was leaving those guys, my teammates,” Robinson III said. “I’ve gained so many relationships with them on and off the court and the type of people that I’ve met at the University of Michigan.
“And as far as the coaching staff, they believed in myself, all those players standing over there, and Nik, since the day we came in.
“A lot of people didn’t necessarily believe in my talents as a player when I first came into college or even recruiting me so for them to give me the time I’m very grateful for. Like Nik said, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m ready to take the next step.”