Michigan’s Stauskas, Robinson headed to NBA draft
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — John Beilein is going to have to rebuild the Michigan basketball team once again.
Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas announced Tuesday that they’re entering the NBA draft, meaning that Beilein will have to replace at least four members of the team that won the Big Ten title and advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. Jordan Morgan (graduation) and Jon Horford (transfer) are also leaving, while Mitch McGary has yet to make his announcement about his future.
That would seem like too much for any coach to replace, but the challenge is nothing new for Beilein. A year ago, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., both left after Michigan’s run to the NCAA title game, and McGary missed most of this season with a back injury, yet the Wolverines responded by winning the Big Ten by three games.
"This is the challenge of coaching at this level, because if you have great players, they go to the NBA, and if it doesn’t work out, you have players going to other schools," Beilein said at Tuesday’s press conference. "But we’re thrilled to be at this point. We hadn’t had a single player drafted in a decade until Darius Morris, and now we’ve sent four more players to the draft in the last two years."
Beilein showed no sign of being disappointed in the decisions.
"We’re very excited about the futures of these two young men," he said. "We’ve been with them in two years in this program, and you can see the success they’ve had here, but we also see all of the hard work that they’ve done to get to this point. This is a great day for them, and a great day for our program."
Stauskas and Robinson face interesting futures. Stauskas took a huge step forward this season, transforming himself from a spot-up, 3-point specialist to a player who could not only create his own shot, but who could blow past defenders for spectacular dunks. He was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, which Burke won last season, and is generally projected to be drafted somewhere in the second half of the lottery picks.
"I talked to the advisory board and I talked to the coaches and I talked to other people and I’m very excited about my shot at the NBA," he said. "It was hard because we’ve had so much success in our two years at Michigan. You can’t help but think what it would be like if we all came back, but this is something I’ve dreamed about since I was 7 or 8."
Robinson, on the other hand, hasn’t drawn as much praise. He certainly has the ability to make big plays, but he hasn’t been able to do it on a consistent basis. Unlike Stauskas and Michigan State’s Gary Harris, there are draft experts who think Robinson should have stayed in school for another year, and who believe he could slip all the way to the second round.
That seems unlikely, though, for multiple reasons. Although Robinson might not be a finished product, he has the type of raw talent that NBA executives always believe they can shape into a quality player. It doesn’t always work, but he needs only one general manager to think it’s worth a try.
Robinson was a starter on two very successful college teams, winning a school-record 59 games in two seasons and hanging a pair of banners in the Crisler Center. A mixture of college success and unquestioned talent, even if not fully realized, will be quite tempting for NBA teams. He also has his genes working for him — being the son of Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson isn’t going to hurt him.
Both Robinson and Stauskas said that they got a lot of advice from Hardaway.
"I’ve heard from him almost every day since he left last year, just telling me what the NBA lifestyle is like," Robinson said, as Stauskas nodded next to him. "He’s told me what to expect and how hard you have to work. The NBA is a job, and you have to take it seriously."
McGary attended the press conference, along with his teammates, but didn’t talk to the media.
"Mitch is heading to our weight-training workout right now and he’s still gathering information," Beilein said. "He’s got until the 27th to make a decision."
His two teammates, however, didn’t need any more time.
"The one thing Tim told me is that you have to be in with two feet or you shouldn’t do it," Stauskas said. "This is a day I’ve dreamed about for my entire life, and I know this is the right decision."