Mitch McGary enters as one of the best big men in the country, though he has been sidelined with a lower back condition since September. The Michigan Wolverines open the season on Nov. 8 against UMass Lowell. However, it’s unclear if McGary will play, as no timetable has been set for a return.
“I really don’t have any pain,” McGary told reporters during Michigan’s media day on Thursday, according to Brendan Quinn of MLive.com. “I’ve never really had any pain. It’s just a little condition that I was dealing with, but right now I’m day-to-day and I’m feeling great. There’s no timetable for me being back. We’re just being cautious right now and we’ll see what happens in the future.”
Head coach John Beilein added that his sophomore forward is showing “great progress.” The 6-foot-10 McGary is the key piece in the front court and despite the setback, Beilein believes McGary will return to the floor with no limitations.
“We are very optimistic about him having a complete season — I mean of him being able to play and do everything,” Beilein told MLive.com last Friday.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.
Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.
Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.
Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).
In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.