Who to Watch in 2012: No. 2, Mitch McGary

With the end of the calendar year approaching, WolverineNation has decided to count down the five athletes we’re expecting the most out of in 2012.

No. 2: Mitch McGary

How do I put this lightly? Well, the 6-foot-10, 225-pound power forward is a really, really big deal.

He is without a doubt the biggest recruit Michigan coach John Beilein has ever landed, and McGary is going to bring a slew of benefits to the Michigan basketball program. McGary’s presence at Michigan changes the recruiting landscape for Beilein completely. People want to play with McGary.

On the floor, McGary’s presence changes how Michigan will play. No longer will the Wolverines be sending guards such as senior Zack Novak in to try and corral rebounds, nor will Michigan be outrebounded with McGary inside. He will make players around him better because opponents won’t know what to do. Should they focus their efforts inside and double McGary every time he touches the ball? Well, that leaves Tim Hardaway Jr. open on the outside. So do they run a zone and try to pack the lane? It could work except for the fact Beilein is a master at recruiting shooters, and that zone is going to leave some open pockets on the outside. So then do opponents play straight up man-to-man defense? It could work if opponents have a team that will match up with McGary, Hardaway Jr., sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz and freshman point guard Trey Burke. But how many teams are there like that? Not many.

With McGary on the floor, Michigan could be a Final Four team in his first season. Like I said, he’s a really, really big deal.