I’m not going to lie to you and say that I understand everything about basketball. In fact, what little knowledge I do have comes from 3 years of playing the wonderful sport myself (junior high was my athletic prime) and from my father, who is either always babbling on and on about basketball, watching basketball, or talking about all the people he could beat in a game of one-on-one. In fact, when I excitably told my father about my latest Campus Celeb interviewee, his response was: “Does he want to play one-on-one?” Unfortunately for my dad, even though I have the utmost faith in his basketball skills, I think he’d lose this game of one-on-one.
I mean, after all, it’s Mitch McGary.
Standing 6 feet 10 inches tall, McGary is definitely intimidating, both on and off the court. When I approached him in the diag, I felt miniscule (and I’m 5’10”—hardly short!). Despite seeming intimidating, he’s a very sweet, outgoing guy—a good trait to have when you’re as popular on campus as he is. In the hour I spent on the diag handing out flyers alongside the basketball star, countless girls begged for pictures, while numerous guys high-fived him and stopped to chat.
Despite being 21, McGary is only a sophomore and still trying to figure out his major. He’s thinking sports management, but when I joked that it seemed that most athletes majored in that, he quickly added, “You’re right. I should just change it up to throw people off. Say I’m majoring in interior design, or something.”
Whatever he’s majoring in, one thing is for sure: McGary is an outstanding athlete. If you didn’t watch last season’s March Madness, you need to reevaluate your life. (OR, if you want to do some light reading about it, I pretended like I knew sports and wrote an article about it: http://www.hercampus.com/school/u-mich/non-sport-watcher-talks-michigan-march-madness). McGary, a forward, was awarded Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice last year, on December 24th and February 11th. He played in 39 games, earning eight starts, including all six games in the NCAA tournament (MGOBLUE.com). Even I, a non-sports watcher, knew this kid was a big deal. I became a fan right away, which is why I was so excited when he agreed to do an interview with me. I did my best to not be a total fan girl (although I did get a picture).
Her Campus: When did you start playing basketball?
Mitch McGary: Seriously or in general? I’ve played ever since I was about six, but I really got serious about it when I was fifteen.
HC: Did your dad or anyone else in your family play?
MM: Nope. I’m the only athlete in my family.
HC: Did you play other sports growing up, or just basketball?
MM: I played baseball and football. Baseball is still one of my favorite sports. I’m a big Cubs fan. But I dropped those sports once I got into high school so I could focus on basketball. It seemed like a good choice. I wouldn’t stop growing, so I figured it would give me an advantage in the sport.
HC: Was it difficult in high school—balancing both academics and athletics?
MM: It was pretty difficult, especially when I transferred to the boarding school.
HC: What was that like? I always like to imagine boarding schools are Zoey 101.
MM: It definitely was nothing like Zoey 101, although I wish it were. It was very strict. I had to wear a uniform. It was in New Hampshire so there really wasn’t much around. I transferred my senior year to play basketball and get my grades up. Socially, though, it wasn’t difficult. I’m very outgoing, very friendly. It wasn’t hard to make friends. I stayed for an extra year, too. We had the option of doing a fifth year, post-grad, there. I did it for academic reasons—to get my SAT scores up, and I was still able to play sports.
HC: What made you choose Michigan over other schools?
MM: Well, the boarding school I went to was over eighteen hours away from home, so I wanted to be closer in college, and Michigan isn’t too far. Besides, Michigan just felt right. I want to get a degree from one of the best university’s in the world.
HC: Speaking of… Do you plan on getting a degree here?
MM: I definitely do. Whether it’s in a couple years or further in the future.
HC: Aside from athletics, what’s your favorite thing about Michigan?
MM: I love so much about Michigan. I love the campus. Everyone is really friendly, and you can tell that people want to be here. There’s a really positive atmosphere and attitude here. Growing up, I was always a super fan—I went to every sporting event and tried to have a lot of school spirit. Everyone here is like that, too.
HC: How has your life changed since last basketball season? You must be getting a lot of attention now.
MM: It’s definitely been crazy, but I try to stay levelheaded and not get a big ego. I get a lot more attention than I anticipated. I love the support I get, though. Walking around campus is hectic—a lot of people ask for pictures, and sometimes I can’t say yes because I’m rushing to get to class, but I do my best to be as nice as I can to everyone. It’s overwhelming, but everyone is so great at the same time.
HC: What are your expectations for this basketball season?
MM: There are very high hopes for the team because of last year’s success. I really believe in the team. Hopefully we can fulfill all those expectations and have a great season like last year. We have six new freshmen on the team, and I think a few of them are going to get a decent amount of playing time. I think they’ll really contribute to the team a lot.
HC: Speaking of teammates—have you kept in touch, or do you plan on staying in touch, with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway since they went pro?
MM: I definitely plan on keeping in touch. Tim has actually visited twice this year. Last year we all became a family. It was a brotherhood. So I’m sure we’ll all try to keep in touch and have a good relationship with everyone on the team. And, of course, it’ll be a brotherhood again this year, just with a few new guys.
HC: How much pressure are you feeling to perform just as well this season as you did last season?
MM: I’m feeling a lot of pressure, but I can handle it. Growing up I was kind of always someone people looked up to. I think I’ll be able to handle it. I’m just focusing on doing my best.
HC: I’ve read different blogs that have been saying how this year might be your last year at Michigan. What are your thoughts on that?
MM: At this point, I can’t really say. It’s in the back of my mind, for sure, but right now I’m just trying to focus on this season. Time will tell.
Time will tell for sure, but in the meantime, we have this year’s basketball season, and if it’s anything like last season, I’m sure we’ll be seeing great things, not only from Mitch McGary, but the entire team as well. Go blue!