Michigan forward Mitch McGary, who was expected to take a major leap forward in his development during his sophomore campaign with the Wolverines, is now likely to miss the rest of the season due to a back injury.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN passed along the latest update on the rising star's surgery:
Michigan's Mitch McGary set to undergo back surgery on Tuesday, source told ESPN. Most likely done for the season.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) January 3, 2014
Last week, Michigan announced McGary would be sidelined after electing to undergo a procedure to alleviate problems with his lower back, but at the time there was no timetable for his return. Now it appears he won't return at all this season.
In the school's announcement, the forward talked about his decision:
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.
The fact McGary was dealing with an injury helps explain why he was having trouble playing at the level most expected when he was named to the Associated Press preseason All-America team.
Can Michigan contend in the Big Ten without McGary?
After averaging 7.5 points per game as a freshman, he was checking in at 9.5 with a five-point drop in his shooting percentage this season. He wasn't displaying the same level of explosiveness as he showed in the latter stages of his freshman campaign.
While it's a tough blow for Michigan to lose him, getting the surgery now and returning to full strength is the best move for McGary. Despite his mundane production, he still possesses plenty of upside and has a bright future if he can stay healthy.
Goodman previously noted that the issues could drop him out of the first round whenever he decides to make the NBA jump, though:
Just talked to a couple NBA guys -- both echoed same sentiment with McGary. With back issues and way be plays, could fall out of 1st round.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) December 27, 2013
As he focuses on recovery, the Wolverines will lean more heavily on Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan to provide frontcourt production. But the team, which ranks outside the top 200 in rebounds per game, will certainly miss McGary in the post.
Michigan is currently 9-4 after beating Minnesota in its Big Ten opener. Its next game comes over the weekend against Northwestern.