Michigan center Mitch McGary has been battling a back injury the entire season. He missed the first two games of the year against UMass Lowell and South Carolina State — both easy wins for the Wolverines — and missed Michigan’s most recent game against Stanford.
An All-American in the preseason, McGary has been unable to replicate his dominant play he demonstrated throughout last season’s NCAA Tournament as a freshman.
On Friday afternoon and with Big Ten play right around the corner, it was announced that McGary will undergo surgery to his back and will be out indefinitely.
In a release by the school, McGary expounded on his decision to have surgery:
My back problems have been a daily challenge ever since late August. We have worked hard rehabbing the injury and I thought that everything was proceeding in the right direction until the last two weeks. I have consulted with my family, my coaches and our doctors and decided the best option now is to have surgery. This was a difficult decision to make because I want to be out there with my teammates. At the same time, I need to be healthy to give everything I can on the court and help my team.
There is no timetable for McGary’s return. If there is one minor bright spot for Michigan, it’s that their next five games come against Holy Cross, Minnesota, Northwestern, Nebraska, and Penn State. They will ostensibly be able to ease into Big Ten play without McGary.
Michigan head coach John Beilein commented on McGary’s back surgery:
He was making progress in practice and games; however, lately he began to experience the same pain he had when we held him out of preseason practice this fall. Our first priority is Mitch’s overall health even though I am certain he would rather be back on the court right now.
For the season, McGary is averaging 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds in nearly 25 minutes per game. The Michigan front court figured to be a point of strength heading into the season. In fact, it had to be, especially with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. heading to the NBA.
The onus now falls on the shoulders of Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan to step in for McGary.