OKLAHOMA CITY — There was a point last season Mitch McGary was bedridden. The Michigan sophomore had just had back surgery and he was laid up in bed for almost a month and missed the final 27 games of the year.
McGary had gotten to Michigan because of his supreme talent on the hardwood and had counted on using the same skills to make it to the NBA. But for those few weeks, the imposing power forward who was known for setting vicious picks could barely walk down the street to the store.
“Right after surgery, I was thinking ‘I don’t think I’m every going to be the same again,’” McGary said. “I don’t know what the decision is going to be if I’m going to come back to school, go out in the draft. I didn’t really know what to expect. Everything just kind of fell into place and worked out for the best.”
The place McGary fell was the Oklahoma City Thunder’s lap. The 6-foot-10, 255-pounder was selected Thursday with the 21st pick in the 2014 NBA Draft . He and fellow first round pick Josh Huestis were introduced to the media Friday at the Oklahoma City History Center.
And it was McGary’s history that was the central topic of questions as he tried to put his somewhat sorted past behind him. It includes being suspended after testing positive for marijuana use while his back was healing. The year-long suspension the NCAA handed down made his decision to turn pro easier, but he knew the incident would also hurt his draft stock.
However, McGary wasn’t counting on the Thunder looking past his mistake and plucking him with their first pick.
“It means everything,” McGary said. “For a team to take a chance on me, with all the adversity I went through, the way I ended my collegiate career, it really shows a lot about them. And shows they saw past the adversity and know that I can overcome them.”