After playing in just eight games due to a back injury, Michigan center Mitch McGary made the decision to enter the 2014 NBA Draft. It was deemed possible that McGary would leave Ann Arbor after two seasons, especially in the aftermath of his performance in helping the Wolverines reach the national title game in 2013, but the reason for his departure caught many by surprise.
McGary tested positive for marijuana in an NCAA-administered drug test following the team’s Sweet 16 win over Tennessee, and while school-administered tests can be more “forgiving” the same can’t be said when the NCAA is running the show. At the time the mandatory penalty was a year-long suspension, which meant that McGary would be losing his junior season. That led to his decision to turn pro, and in June McGary was picked 21st overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
McGary discussed his path to the NBA with Vice Sports, stating that he believes that the entire experience was good for him.
“Overall I think it was good for me; it’s a learning moment,” McGary said. “The way I handled it was mature and responsible, so I think people actually took my side and went against the NCAA, rather than being like, ‘Hey, you’re some sort of druggie.'”
It should be noted that the NCAA has shortened the length of a suspension for testing positive for drugs in an NCAA-administered test, with athletes now required to sit six months.