ANN ARBOR — Now living in Oklahoma City and poised for his rookie season in the NBA, Mitch McGary is looking back on the end of his Michigan career with the perspective of someone thankful to land on his feet.
McGary, the former U-M star who turned the 2013 NCAA tournament into his personal coming out party, saw his sophomore season with the Wolverines land with a thud. After playing only eight games due to a back injury that required surgery, McGary failed an NCAA-administered drug test during the 2014 NCAA tournament and paid a heavy price.
The 6-foot-10 forward was suspended from NCAA competition for one year.
The decision all but decided McGary’s fate for him, leading him to declare for the 2014 NBA draft. Selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder, a perennial playoff team featuring Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, with the 21st pick in the first round, McGary’s story wasn’t derailed by the past year.
McGary spoke to VICE Sports recently about his decision to smoke marijuana and the suspension that followed.
“It was a learning moment,” McGary said. “The way I handled it was mature and responsible so I think people actually took my side against the NCAA, rather than being like, hey, you’re some druggy.
“I still get people on Twitter and Instagram still commenting on stuff, saying, oh, you did drugs. Well, you know what, I did, whatever. So what? I learned from it. It was in college. They’ll understand when they’re in college.”
Michigan appealed McGary’s suspension, but lost. Coach John Beilein voiced displeasure soon after, saying the length was too harsh.
“I don’t think the penalty fit the crime, but that’s the way it goes,” McGary told VICE, adding that he made “a mistake,” but that it was “the opposite of harming somebody.”
McGary participated in the NBA Summer League and appeared fully recovered from back surgery. Oklahoma City opens its 2014-15 season on Oct. 29 at Portland.
“Hopefully some kids can learn from it,” he said. “Just don’t get caught.”
McGary’s full interview is below.
Brendan F. Quinn covers University of Michigan basketball and football. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on Wolverines hoops. He can be contacted at [email protected]
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.