NOAH TRISTER,AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary are coming back to Michigan, hoping to form the nucleus of the Wolverines’ next national title contender.
Robinson and McGary announced their decisions Thursday, putting off the NBA draft to return for their sophomore seasons. Michigan has lost national player of the year Trey Burke and guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to the draft, but now the Wolverines can expect to return three starters from a team that reached the NCAA title game this season.
Robinson, the son of the former Purdue star with the same name, started all 39 games for Michigan this season and averaged 11 points. McGary’s stock took off during the NCAA tournament, when he emerged as a force inside to help the Wolverines to their first Final Four since 1993.
“These two are very interested in being leaders,” coach John Beilein said. “I sense right now they’re growing more and more comfortable in a leadership role.”
Michigan lost to Louisville in the national title game, and Burke’s departure was no surprise. He is leaving after his sophomore season, and Hardaway — a junior — announced his decision to turn pro Wednesday. That left Robinson and McGary — two standout freshmen — as the last two Wolverines weighing an early jump to the NBA.
The 6-foot-6 Robinson was probably Michigan’s most athletic player, always a target when Burke would look to throw lobs in transition.
“We want to get back to that championship game and hopefully win it,” Robinson said.
Robinson spent a lot of time this season as an undersized power forward, but he could play more at small forward next season — with McGary playing in the post alongside Jordan Morgan or Jon Horford. Morgan struggled to return to form after a midseason injury this year, and McGary become Michigan’s top inside presence during the NCAA tournament.
The 6-foot-10 McGary averaged only 7.5 points per game this season, but in the NCAA tournament he averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds.
That gave McGary a decision to make.
“There’s still plenty for me to work on and get better,” McGary said. “I’m just excited for what lies ahead.”
The biggest question facing the Wolverines, of course, is how they’ll replace Burke. Incoming recruit Derrick Walton Jr. may have a chance to step in right away at point guard, and Spike Albrecht — who scored 17 points against Louisville — is also expected back after backing up Burke.
Nik Stauskas, another returning starter, provides terrific outside shooting and may play a bigger role in Hardaway’s absence. A lot is also expected from incoming freshman Zak Irvin, who was named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball earlier this month.
“I think we have to continue to realize that we have to have a wonderful mix of young men,” Beilein said. “From the guys that we know will be four-year players to the guys that we know will be ones that will have these (early entry) opportunities.”
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