In 2013, Michigan got back to the NCAA Tournament championship game for the first time in 20 years. It was a watershed moment that signaled that the Wolverines were back in the national consciousness for the first time since the Fab Five era.
Two starters from that team, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., went in the first round of last year’s NBA draft. U-M was looking to have the other three starters, Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, also go as first-rounders Thursdya night.
The Wolverines and coach John Beilein got two out of three, as Stauskas and McGary went in the first round, while Robinson went in the second round.
It marks the first time that three U-M players were taken in the same draft since 1990, when Rumeal Robinson, Terry Mills and Loy Vaught were selected.
The suspense began after the Cavaliers started the draft by selecting Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick. It’s the second straight year the Cavs had the top pick, and the second time in a row they picked a Canadian, along with Anthony Bennett last season.
Stauskas was the first Wolverine to be picked, going No. 8 to the Sacramento Kings.
“This is a huge honor for me. This is something I’ve been working towards since I was seven years old,” Stauskas said. “The fact that I’m sitting here in front of all you guys now — I can’t put this into words.
“I’m excited to be a member of the Sacramento Kings. I’ve only heard good things about the city and the organization. So I’m excited to get to work and help this team win.”
Stauskas, a 6-foot-6 guard, left after a sophomore season that saw him win Big Ten player of the year and help Michigan get to the Elite Eight, before falling to Kentucky. Stauskas averaged 17.5 points for U-M and showed versatility in his game that buoyed his draft stock.
Dressed in a blue-pinstripe suit and pink tie in the green room at Barclays Center, Stauskas had a special handshake with his father and Beilein before heading to the stage to greet NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
Stauskas became the highest-drafted U-M player since Jamal Crawford went No. 8 in 2000 to the Cavs; Trey Burke went ninth last season to the Timberwolves before being traded to the Jazz.
“A lot of guys are coming to Michigan are under-recruited and we play with a chip on their shoulder,” Stauskas told ESPN’s Jay Williams after the pick. “Coach Beilein and the assistant coaches have done a great job and gave us a great system to play in and we’ve succeeded in it.”
The Kings picked Kansas’ Ben McLemore with the seventh pick last season, but McLemore shot just 32 percent (and the Kings 33 percent) from 3-point range. Stauskas shot 44 percent on triples last season for U-M and was regarded as the best shooter in the draft.
“I haven’t really watched a lot of their other games, but I know they got a strong young core. I know they got DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, a lot of strong players on the team,” Stauskas said. “I know they struggled with shooting the basketball in the past. Immediately, I think I can be a guy that comes in and helps stretch the floor and knock down shots for them. So I’m excited to do that.”
In Stauskas’ two seasons with the Wolverines, they went to the NCAA title game in 2013 and won the outright Big Ten regular-season title last season.
Dreams really do come true!! Excited to be a member of the Sacramento Kings! The journey is just beginning and the best has yet to come!— Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11) June 27, 2014
McGary, meanwhile, made it two Wolverines in the first round, going No. 21 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Because of back surgery in January, McGary only played eight games last season, averaging 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds last season but was an integral piece of U-M’s trip to the title game.
THUNDER UP!! Couldn't be happier!— Mitch McGary (@mitchmcgary) June 27, 2014
At 6-10, McGary was one of the few true big men in the draft. With the Thunder, he could aid the fron tcourt with league MVP Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.
“Congrats Mitch!! Welcome,” Durant posted on his Twitter account just after the pick.
Congrats Mitch!! Welcome— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) June 27, 2014
The Wolverines didn’t get three players selected in the first round, as Robinson was selected 40th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Robinson, who played out of position as a power forward at U-M, was projected as a lottery pick after his freshman season.
“He’s a first-round talent,” Timberwolves president and coach Flip Saunders said. “We’re really excited about him. And coach Beilein does a great job of coaching those guys (at Michigan). They’re very fundamentally sound, and they’ve got the tendency to improve and translate to our level.
“I know a lot of people come up here and say we had this guy rated a lot higher, but we had this guy rated a lot higher. He came in during the preseason and a lot of people had him rated as a lottery-type player.”
Other local picks
Kentucky’s James Young, who played at Rochester High School and Troy High School, was taken with the 17th pick in the first round by the Boston Celtics.
Young, who declared for the draft after his freshman season, helped the Wildcats reach the NCAA title game, before falling to Connecticut.
... Another local product, Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble (Southfield-Lathrup) was picked 56th by the Orlando Magic.