Wolverines could lose key players to NBA

According to one draft expert, it could be a sad summer for Michigan basketball fans.

SheridanHoops.com had Trey Burke and Glenn Robinson III rated as lottery prospects before the NCAA tournament even started, but after the first weekend, they have an even better opinion about Michigan’s future NBA players.

With Burke having to deal with Nate Wolters and VCU’s high-pressure defense, draft expert Joe Kotoch thinks Robinson and Tim Hardaway Jr. both helped their pro prospects in Michigan’s lopsided wins.

“Robinson is not playing like a freshman so far in the tournament,” he writes. “Averaging over 17.5 ppg and shooting nearly 80%, Robinson has an outside chance to be a lottery pick — and if he continues to play like he has it would not be a surprise to see him be the first Wolverine selected in the draft, presuming he declares.”

That’s an overreaction to two games, as opposed to an entire season where Robinson disappeared for much of Big Ten play. However, even if most teams would take Burke ahead of Robinson, every suggestion of immediate NBA glory and riches could play on a 19-year-old’s decision-making progress.

Robinson wasn’t the only one coming in for praise, though.

“Hardaway has been up and down at times but has been solid in Michigan’s two wins,” Kotoch said. “With 35 points on over 50% shooting, Hardaway has been a stabilizing force as teammate Trey Burke, the Big Ten Player of the Year, has struggled both offensively and in terms of taking care of the basketball. With Hardaway’s length and scoring ability, NBA teams will be watching him closely the remainder of the tournament.”

Hardaway certainly opened some eyes with his perfomance against VCU. With Shaka Smart’s “Havoc” press keeping the ball out of Burke’s hands, it was Hardaway bringing the ball up the court. Against the VCU turnover machine, he gave the ball away only once while putting up 14 points and three assists.

The biggest problem for Michigan could be a domino effect. Most observers expect Burke to leave for the NBA, but if he were to pull a Taylor Lewan-like reversal, Robinson and Hardaway might be more likely to stay and try to pick up some banners.

If Burke leaves, and either Hardaway or Robinson starts leaning toward the pros, it might tempt the other one into passing on a season that could see the Wolverines rebuilding from the loss of key players.

The deeper Michigan plays into the tournament, the more likely it will go into next season without several of the players that helped them do it.