ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan started the week with the expected defections of its starting backcourt to the NBA. It’ll end it by likely remaining in the preseason top 10 for 2013-14 anyway.
More than Trey Burke or Tim Hardaway Jr., the returns of Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III were the pieces Michigan needed to come back to avoid a potential major slide next season. And now, they have them.
The return of the two close friends from Indiana gives Michigan depth and top-end talent at every position next season, as they will likely join freshman point guard Derrick Walton Jr., sophomore guard Nik Stauskas and either freshman winger Zak Irvin or sophomore wing Caris LeVert in the starting lineup.
Those five -- seven, really, if you include the loser of the Irvin/LeVert battle and the return of three-year starter Jordan Morgan -- could end up as the most talented top seven in the country, non-Kentucky division.
Both guys coming back also signifies a piece of what Michigan coach John Beilein has often preached -- sometimes oddly: that he wants the Ann Arbor school to be a place guys want to stay instead of being a quick stop to the NBA. In reality, college -- and big-time programs -- will always be more of a pit stop than a destination to elite talent, but for McGary and Robinson to turn down being potential lottery selections for one more year at Michigan is significant for Beilein and his program.
It shows those two believe in the development prowess of big man coach Bacari Alexander and wing coach Jeff Meyer to turn them into stronger players. It also reinforces a template Burke set last season of returning and seeing your projected stock improve.
Robinson and McGary have areas in which they need to get better. Robinson needs to add muscle, a reliable outside shot and better defense. McGary still can get in better shape and show he can do what he did during the NCAA tournament for an entire season.
“They are smart kids, have grown a lot this year,” said Wayne Brumm, their former AAU coach with SYF Players. “I think they are really scratching the surface in terms of their game. I think they think that. I think the coaches here know that.
“It’s a real delicate balance between providing for your family and providing for yourself and being a teammate at the University of Michigan.”
The balance has been decided. Robinson and McGary are returning to Michigan. The Wolverines should be a top team again, and with the two of them, they will have a chance at another Final Four run.
Much like Burke a season ago, Thursday likely starts a clock where the decisions for these two players will be different a year from now.