In Depth Scouting: Mitch McGary

Dylan Burkhardt

Depending on who you talk to, Mitch McGary is the best big man and the second or third best player in the class of 2012. Despite his lofty ranking, the second most popular question that I’ve heard this fall (after “will Michigan get McGary?”) is just how good is he really? A ranking is one thing, but what does he bring to the table at the next level.

On the eve of McGary’s announcement – scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. on ESPNU – we take a closer look at McGary’s strengths and weaknesses from the summer circuit. There’s endless highlight and scouting video of McGary out there on the internet but here’s our first hand impressions of McGary as well as some quality hand selected reports from other outlets this summer.

What Stands Out:

  • 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

Areas for Improvement:

  • Decision Making: McGary loves to play the game at 100 miles per hour and that sometimes gets him into trouble. He can do so many different things with the ball in open space that he will dribble or pass his way into trouble.
  • Shooting: Mitch doesn’t shy away from the 10 to 20 foot jump shot but he was also relatively inconsistent shooting the ball this summer.
  • Post Play: McGary’s offensive game is more efficient when he’s attacking the basket rather than with his back to the basket. He doesn’t have a vast arsenal of post moves

Notable Event Scouting Reports

Dave Telep at NBPA Top 100 Camp:

For my money, the best 5-minute run of any player at camp belonged to Mitch McGary(Wolfeboro, N.H./Brewster). His camp team, masterfully coached our own Paul Biancardi, came back from the dead to win a game at the buzzer. In the second half, there was a stretch when McGary was in beast mode.

The lefty is a man in the lane and the other guys know it. He’s a feared competitor who owns touch and has a passion for punking people at the rim. You play in rotations at camp but McGary begged to get double-shifted by his coaches. You want this guy on your team.

Paul Biancardi on Mitch McGary’s motor:

It is difficult to find players who bring all-out effort and energy on a consistent basis, but McGary does it better than anyone. Not only does he bring energy to his own game, he gives it to his teammates. His motor never stops as he constantly works the backboard, runs the floor and dives on the floor for loose balls. His enthusiasm even carries over when he’s on the bench as he cheers on his teammates and remains vocal. McGary has talent and physical tools, but his motor makes him special and will make him money one day.

Eric Bossi at NY2LA Summer Jam:

What a total animal this guy played like on Friday. First, the five-star big man broke Texas PRO in the first half with his ill-tempered length-of-the-court drives and rebounding, and he was able to rest himself for the championship after racking up 14 points and 16 boards. Then, looking as fresh as he would if he was playing his first game of the summer, he went out and dominated the paint in SYF’s win over Dream Vision in the championship game. Bottom line, McGary is a competitor with a non-stop motor, great hands, great skill and even greater will.

John Stovall at the adidas May Classic:

“He is a big, strong bully in the paint who reclassified about a year ago and has become a true force inside. McGary has increased his skill level a great deal, is effective handling the ball some on the perimeter and has improved his outside shot. You would prefer him scoring in the lane, but he can step out and make jumpers to 19 feet. He has a tremendous motor, which could be his best asset and McGary has made himself one of the top talents in the 2012 class.”

UMHoops at Pitt Jam Fest:

McGary’s uncanny combination of size, strength, athleticism and coordination is extremely impressive because it allows him to do so much on the court. He loves to rebound the ball and push it up the court himself. He attacks the basket with a nice face-up game, although it’d be nice to see him play more with his back to the basket.

His decision making needs work as he often tries to do far too much before turning the ball over.He also tends to float to the perimeter a bit too much and loves to settle for jump shots despite having the tools to get a much better look at the basket. Overall, McGary was extremely impressive and he is on the verge of blowing up if he hasn’t already. The lefty’s flaws are correctable and easily outweighed by his size and talent.

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  • Stevenjcullen

    A combination of Tyler Hansborough and Chris Bosh…hopefully not a Darko..:)  

    This is a great thing for UM.  I promise you it will be mentioned a couple times by Dick Vitale at Maui in a couple weeks…great pub.

    • ColinNer

      Love the Chris Bosh comparison. Lefty PF with more attacking in his game than back-to-the-basket.

  • Mattski

    Perfect job for a guy who’s ADHD: basketball big man. 

    We can speculate whether his lack of post polish means he comes to Michigan where that’s not such an issue, or whether he goes to Duke because they help him develop that side of his game better? (Is this a legitimate way of seeing the question?)

    Thanks for this very timely diary, Dylan. Now I can be even more crushed if he doesn’t come. 

    • Guest

      Duke has not done a good job of developing big men as of late.  They had highly rated recruits like McRoberts and Randolph and both were flops.  Plumlee brothers have huge potential but Duke are using them as a screener and rebounder.

      • A2JD

        Yeah, I really don’t get the connection of dook and developing big men.

        • Kevin

          Elton Brand and Carlos Boozer may have something to do with that. Granted, that was a long time ago. 

    • Orangeda

      Michigan’s Big man coach: Bacari Alexander
      Duke’s Big man coach: Steve Wojonowski(seriously)

      If you are a big, who would you rather be coached by?

      Duke has a great bball program , obviously, but their big man development has been subpar given the tools they’ve had to work with, UM is a better option, and with the other talent coming into the program with him, no goal(national championship) is out of reach.

  • sane1

    Bacari can really help him with post up moves. 

  • MrTroyMercy

    SMH @ umhoops always having the most negative reviews of players . Scout says GrIII can shoot the 3 – Umhoops says he needs to work on it . It never fails at all . However, I am rooting foor us to get Mitch because with the current big men that we have , we could a different look don below and rebound with best of them.

    If hee doesn’t commit – negative nancies please miss me with the ” Belien can’t recruit top players ” mess …please.

    I have a good feeling about this . Keep it postive .

    • serious

      lolwut? y u no make sense

      • Mattski

        The smart phone is killing American discourse. Nuff said.

        • serious

          If that is the case, then message boards must be killing sarcasm, no?

  • Skipper

    Poor timing for criticism just on the eve of his decision.

    • Post wasn’t really meant to be “criticism”… It was meant to be a scouting report.. a feature which generally includes strengths and weaknesses.

      • SBell

        What, a 19-year-old basketball player can have “areas for improvement”? Nooo!!!!

    • Mattski

      Dylan B: merciless critique of all things existing, unafraid of its own conclusions, refusing to shrink from collision with established powers!

    • Kevin

      In a post roughly 1000 words long, how do you see 250 words of “criticism”  as a bad thing?

  • GregGoBlue

    With such aggression and motor, is getting into foul trouble an issue?

    • Being bigger and stronger than everyone else generally helps you get calls, even with an aggressive style of play. McGary does a great job of creating contact and getting to the free throw line — imposing his will.

      • A2JD

        I also think he’s not as reckless as he was just a year ago.  He plays smarter and in greater control.

  • Last push to seal Mitch to Michigan :

  • RB

    More than anyone else, McGary reminds me of Kevin Love.  Tenacious rebounder, pretty good ball skills, and the ability to finish at the rim or with the mid-range jumper.  I think we got a real good one here.

  • BVandy19

    Oh LORD!

    First of all, to the guest that wrote about duke.. and not developing big men in recent years. Thats been the Big Mens role in the past years, i dont know about you but i sure as hell wouldnt want to run into a 6’10-7’0 foot dude of a ball screen, plus they had Nolan Smith. Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer. and thats after JJ Redick and Sheldon Williams left. That was part of there offense to drive and kick or someone coming off a ball screen. which would open up for the big men, Even getting a offense a rebound and kicking it out.
    LAST YEAR when Kyrie played before he got hurt, Mason Plumbee was playing the best he ever has played at Duke. They by into a system and they do what there suppose to do, which is why duke is very good and yes they also have the talent.

    Now, to Mr.TroyMercy
    Are you on drugs? seriously, Mitch dont get me wrong its amazing talent, but please explain to me how he fits into uofm system. UofM big men are very bad, sry to break it to you. Something is wrong when you have Zack Novack defending someone thats 4 or 5 inches taller then him and stronger. All your Big Men from last year execpt for 1 was behind the 3 point arc. Michigan always Ran 4 out 1 in with Morgan picking his butt. Bringing Mitch into uofm yes may help build the program more but you will still get out rebounded and outworked in the paint and the reason for that is because uofm big men are soft. He better off going to florida or duke. UofM runs to slow of a offense for him he wants to run and uofm doesnt give him that.

    FYI it will SHOW when you play MEMPHIS in the MAUI and if you win that game. Then you get duke who you guys lost to last year by 2.

    Just needed to say whats on my mind thats all.

    • WingedKnight

      Am I safe in assuming you watched a maximum of 40 minutes of Michigan basketball last season?

      Our big men soft? I’d like for you to say that to Zack Novak’s or Jordan Morgan’s face. Get out, troll.

    • serious

      Hey, look! It’s an angry Duke fan!

    • Mith

      Could you say what’s on your mind using decent grammar and spelling?   I hope you are just a Duke slappy and not an actual student because, holy crap, that was bad.

      • Buddy Garrity

        LOL.  No way that guy goes to Duke. 

    • Mattski

      Wow just wow. Glad you have relieved yourself. . . of that. For some people having big men who shoot is akin to a football failure to play MANBALL. 

    • FGCU Maize Rage

      I have a few problems with that post:

      1. Spell your own players’ names right. If we can spell “Smotrycz” correctly 95% of the time, you should know how to spell “Plumlee”. C’mon man.
      2. Plumlee was playing the best he ever has played? So the first 11 games of the season when he put up 8.3PPG and 7.7RPG he was playing THE BEST BASKETBALL OF HIS LIFE? (compared to his season average of 7.1 and 8.5) Really?
      3. I do not understand your first paragraph. I saw a bunch of names of former Duke players who have all fallen off the face of the earth since then (except maybe Redick). It also looks like you wrote that not developing big men in recent years has been the role in the offense. Interesting.
      4. Michigan big men are soft? There are only two true big men in Michigan’s rotation right now. Jordan Morgan is just as physical as any Duke big man and our other big man kinda dunked all over one of your awesome Duke bigs last season. And I say “kinda” because the dunk wasn’t that great, but your boy still got rocked by the rail-thin Jon Horford.

      That is all.

    • Guest

      Spoken like an uninformed fan

    • Highflowing

      You essentially just proved the point you’re trying to disprove… 

      Michigan’s biggest weak point has been the post game.  Therefore, the addition of a beast in the post could put Michigan over the top.  He picks a school like Michigan where he knows he’s going to make an impact.  Schools like Duke get top talent every year, and I’m thinking he wants to set him self aside from that and make his own path. 

    • SamGoBlue

      Pretty sure you are a Michigan State fan, and just to remind you, we beat you guys twice last season, so go back into your hole. Thank you.

    • ColinNer

      That might be the worst post in site history in terms of content, player spelling, and rationale.

    • A2JD

      The Plumlees are a great example of why Mitch SHOULDN’T go to dook.  They were all All-Americans and now the two older brothers are late-first rounders at best.  
      They’ve become a bunch of Eric Meeks or poor men’s Cherokee Parks’.

  • Chris Webber

    Dylan, is there any particular pro/former player who you would compare McGary to?  I’ve heard Hansbrough, but it seems like he has more range?  

    • Indiana_Matt

      He seems to resemble former All-American and Atlanta Hawks reserve, Jon “Contract” Koncak.

    • philip balger

      I’d go C Webb with less up’s but more everything else…

      • A2JD

        Phillip must be too young to have seen Webber in H.S. or at Michigan.  Mitch is very talented but Webber was at a much higher level.

        I still like the Odom comparison for McGary.

        • I generally hate comparisons, especially one as obvious and cliche as Tyler Hansborough but it’s a pretty good one. You have to just love how hard Mitch plays the game. He’s a great rebounder but it would be extremely impressive if he put up rebounding totals like Kevin Love in college – he was an absolute monster on the glass – I also think Love’s offensive game might have been a bit more technical.

          • SamGoBlue

            I have to disagree with the Hansbrough comparison a little bit.  From what I have seen of McGary, I don’t think their games are all that similar. Hansbrough was very much a scrapper with an unorthodox style – many of his points came in very “odd” ways you might say. He loved the 10-15 foot mid-range game and was quite unconventional. I think there are similarities in their games, but I also think McGary is much more dominant around the hoop, probably a better shot-blocker, and likes to handle the ball way more than Hansbrough did. The mid-range game is probably similar and obviously they both show tremendous motors on the court and never give up on a play, something usually said about football prospects.

            I do agree, however, that comparisons suck in general. I think it is unfair to compare any high schooler to guys that are in the NBA already and were usually NCAA All Americans. Rarely do you see someone compared to someone else on an equal level. Each player is unique and plays in his own special way. I also think people, whether consciously or not, immediately group players into racial categories when making comparisons. For whatever reason, when asked to compare someone to Mitch McGary, I think people immediately filter their mind to think of big, white post players, and that is not completely fair either.

            Having said that, I think Chris Bosh is a decent comparison and I can see a little Lamar Odom in his game as well, but McGary doesn’t have his range.

        • philip balger

          Sorry…wrong…too bad you had to slight me to make your comment on what is my opinion. I am sure you knew this was going to back fire in your face, maybe not but think about what you are going to type before you do it next time please. Yes, i did see Webber, that’s why i compared McGary to him. Similar size, ball handling ability (McGary is a better ball-handler) both like to run, pass and crash boards with a step out jumper. Odom i like as a comparison as well, but i don’t think Odom had the buzz McGary has coming into college, and he certainly didn’t play for Michigan. You say Webber was at much higher level and then throw out one of the most versatile players of all time in Odom. Think again and please stay off my jock.

          • A2JD

            Sorry, Phil-  
            That was the only reason I could fathom your opinion.

            Webber was a very good dribbler (especially at a high-school level), was more explosive, quicker, was a great rebounder, got a lot of blocks and steals and could hit the 3, if needed but was more of an interior player in college.  People said he had the greatest hands they’d seen in a long time.

            He’d also carried his team to 3 state titles.  He was the most coveted recruit out of Michigan since Magic Johnson.

            Things like “He will be the #1 pick in the draft whenever he chooses to come out.” were being said about Webber in High School in a time where hardly any college Juniors were entering the NBA.Sorry, that’s not Mitch at this point.  

            This is not a slight to him, just more of a commentary about how elite Webber was coming out of H.S.If Mitch comes to Michigan, I hope he exceeds the on-court production that Webber had there.  He’s just not that level of talent yet.

            I also don’t think Odom is as good as Webber (except defensively) but he’s an all-around player in a large frame, is a lefty and is a guy who Mitch says he tries to emulate, thus the comparison works.

            Odom was regarded as every bit the talent as a high school player that Mitch is.  I had to double-check that but that is the case.  Some thought he would jump straight to the NBA and Michigan even recruited him, which I did not know.  It was more a case of his off-court issues that kept him from going to a bigger school than Rhode Island (he was originally a UNLV commit but there were some questions about some of his ACT results).

  • Mattski

    Interesting piece at, which doesn’t look like it’s been linked here, interviews Telep about McGary’s potential impact on the program:

    One interesting observation is that such a good player raises the level in practice and (consequently) the level of play of your big men. But it got me thinking–who’s out of a job, or downgraded, if McGary joins the team? Can Morgan or Horford play forward? 

    • MGoTweeter

      Well it will be interesting to see what happens if he commits to UM.  It’s tough to say who would start or anything like that since it is tough to say who is going to start for UM on Friday or for the rest of this season.  I could see two scenarios playing out or two that are most likely and a third that is farther out there.  All really based on what McGary can do because I just do not see Morgan nor Horford playing anything but 5.  

      1. McGary ends up good enough on both ends of the floor to play either the 4 or 5.  His offensive skills seem good enough to play the 4, but still have to see.  The big question would be can he guard anyone at that position.  But if he can do that, then I think you see him getting a good chunk of minutes at the 4 (almost a split with Smotrycz) and then another smaller chunk at 5.  Allowing Morgan still to get the majority of the work and Horford to get another chunk.  In terms of minutes that guys got last season, not much of a difference, but probably a slight downward bump for Horford from the minutes he will get this season.  

      2.  McGary can only effectively play the 5.  Probably still gets a small chunk at the 4 b/c of his offensive skills, but most of his minutes come from the 5.  He and Morgan basically split time and Horford see’s only spot duty.  

      3.  This is a big stretch but it would be interesting to see.  McGary seems to have pretty good quickness for his size, so the stretch is we see a frontcourt lineup of Smotrycz, McGary and Morgan/Horford.  The team plays strictly 1-3-1 with this lineup.  Maybe even deploying McGary as the point man on the 1-3-1.  I do not see this happening but it would be interesting to see.  With all that length up top, McGary could cause a lot of problems if he is quick enough to recover back to shooters and contain penetration.  No one see’s a drop in minutes here, but Vogrich, Stauskas and Robinson do not get the bump in minutes if Hardaway leaves early.  

      Scenario 1 or 2 are most likely in my mind and that means Horford probably loses out on additional minutes.  But who knows, he could end up being better than Morgan by the end of this year.  I would imagine that due to McGary having a great offensive skill set that he will see time at either 4 or 5 pretty regularly perhaps with the team just going more 1-3-1 when he is at 4.  

      • You get a lot of really interesting scenarios. You are more than likely returning four (maybe three) starters depending on who starts at point guard this season. Then you are adding in John Beilein’s best class to date with the most talented big man on the roster, the most athletic wing on the roster and another great shooter with size. There are endless scenarios with big and small lineups that would be a lot of fun to watch.

        • A2JD

          Is there any chance that if Smot continues to improve his ball-handling that we could “go big” and he could see some time at the 3?

          TH Jr. might not return or he could slide to the 2, which would be his natural position in the NBA.

      • maxwell’s demon

        A bit OT from your post, but I imagine Mitch has to be projected as a 4 in the NBA, right?

  • Erob

    Not to take away from any Mcgary hype but did anyone go to the open practice for student ticket holders today?  I’d love to hear how the team is looking so far.  

    • GregGoBlue

      A few observations:

      1) The weight that Smotrycz and Horford has put in looks to have a large part of it be below the waist. It showed when Smotrycz skyed (and I mean skyed) for a rebound that he pulled down with authority. It was hard to believe it was the same Evan Smotrycz! Horford still looks a bit awkward and gangly, but now it’s a much stronger awkward and gangly. 

      2) THJr looks to have turned it up a notch. He’s aggressive in attacking the hoop and playing frenetic and disruptive defense. He’s looking stronger as well. I think he’s poised to step up this season and be a real factor. Very excited to see him play this season. 

      3) On one situational play Bielfeldt got three boards in a row and had a nice finish. He’s got a good motor, but his footwork needs some work and he’s a bit limited athletically. With a year under his belt and some time in the weight room I think he’ll be a solid player for Meech down the line.

      4) Brundidge and Burke still appear to be swimming a bit, but the athleticism and talent is there. Brundidge had an impressive feed to Morgan in the paint, and Burke nailed a beautiful long range 3. Burke’s on-ball D looks to be pretty good as well. I’d imagine Stu will start the season at the 1 at this point, but once Burke starts picking things up watch out. 

      5) Speaking of D, Vogrich looks to have improved his D as well. He’s come a long way since the defensive liability he was his freshman year, and with his deadly range behind the arc (as well as his strong finish last year in the Tennessee game), I think the future is bright for Vogrich at the 3. He hit a great 3 as well to end an offensive set, and from reports I’ve read that’s just par for the course for him thus far. 

      6) While Novak bounced back and fourth between drills for the 2’s and the 4’s, Smotrycz stayed almost entirely with the 4’s (no 5 drills). I think that’s telling of where we’ll see the majority of Smotrycz this season and the confidence the coaches have in Horford. 

      Anybody else? 

      • SamGoBlue

        I was also at the open practice and we had a great student turn-out, with around 800 kids total (up from about 40 last year).

        As for the practice, Beilein always asks that we keep everything quiet and that nothing gets outside the doors, so I’m not going to really say anything other than that the team looked good so far but there is definitely some work to do. Timmy looked very good.

        Other than that, I would hope Michigan fans respect the head coach’s wishes and not go blurting out everything that they see at a closed practice.

        • GregGoBlue

          Missed that part about no practice reports, feel free to delete my comments. Thanks for the heads up Sam. 

          • sane1

            Jordan Morgan outplayed the Plumlees last March. Bacardi can coach circles around your “big man” coach Wojo, LOL.

          • sane1

            This was supposed to reply to Cam4 below.

      • Kenny

        Horford still need a year to improve his skills. Smotrysz already had the skills and is ready to have a breakout year.

      • MGoTweeter

        thanks for the info anyway ;)

      • Dylan Peiffer

        Dont forget about Glenn Robison. This team could be off the chain!!!

      • maxwell’s demon

        Interesting and good to hear Smot is seeing only time at 4

  • Cam4

    Points needs to be made. Like in Mitch’s blog Coach K will have the most wins ever. Second, Compare the # of national championships between Duke and U of M… Not close or when U of M was close they got them revoked thanks to the Fab 5. Side note, just bc Duke didn’t decide to recruit Rose, he didn’t have to be a duche bag on national tv. 3rd, when Mitch makes it between U of F, U of M and Duke it is between to above average teams and a top team. Michigan has being close to home on its side but if he wants to play in the NBA where it’s a fast pace style (like at Duke not Big Ten basketball for that matter)

    • Cam4

      (cont.) he will chose duke. Bc if I were him I would want to win a NCAA title not be a big fish in a smaller pond. But it’s his choice tomorrow at 5

      • a2sk

        So why is it that the Duke supporters are the least articulate people who post here?

      • SamGoBlue

        So he will do something tomorrow that he already did in the past?? This grammar is really hurting my brain here…

    • UMIndy

      First, while I wouldn’t argue against the fact that Michigan’s basketball program has historically been a tier bellow the top programs (UK, KU, UNC, etc…), I’m not sure what that has to do with one individuals choice this week.  Especially when the one top tear program we are competing with has a long history of failing to turn top recruits into top NBA players.

      Second, given said programs advantages in recruiting over the last decades, one could argue that they have underachieved, in that they have had an advantage on the court, but often fail to turn that advantage into championships.

    • Kenny

      While duke is no doubt one of the top 5 programs in basketball, its contribution to nba has been busts after busts. Just saying.

    • Matt

      Sparty gonna Sparty.  Surprised they don’t teach Trolling 101 up there.

  • Wayman Britt

    Mr. McGary:

    If you truly want to improve your basketball fundamentals, skills and bball IQ to the highest level, then join the Wolverines.

    Oh by the way, if you want a great academic school also, then join UM.

    • “D-Tay” from “the Bay”

      all the dukies coming here running their traps about “top tier” programs and nba big men developed… Sheldon Williams played for you man… biggest bust all-time. If I played ball, I wouldnt wana be apart of that. Plumlee’s will follow by not getting drafted at all.

      you inched forward in the touney last year by 2 but we’ll see in maui where we stand.
      Everyone knows if we land McGary with GR3, and a gritty Stauskas(spelling maybe), we’ll be top notch… but we just happen to be ready this season.

  • Train Train

    Close sources to Mitch McGary tell me that he has already decided on Michigan, hate to spoil it for all of you, but this thing is done, and here is to a national championship in the next 2 years. Love you all