Big man from Indiana has Kentucky's attention

Rivals' No. 5 prospect at NBA's Top 100 Camp

jtipton@herald-leader.comJune 17, 2011 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Big man Mitch McGary, whose rapid rise up recruiting lists got him an invitation to the NBA-sponsored Top 100 Camp here this week, is a testament to overcoming obstacles.

A native of Chesterton, Ind., a town near Lake Michigan, McGary transferred to a prep school in New Hampshire. His grades and his basketball stock improved.

"I knew my grades were crappy," McGary said in explaining the transfer. "I had ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). You see me zoning out, that's probably why. It happens every once in a while. It happens on the court."

When asked what observers would see if his ADHD kicked in, McGary said, "I start getting hyper, running with the ball and dribbling it off a foot."

McGary, a 6-foot-10, 255-pound center, looks like a poor man's Dave Cowens. Being left-handed and light on his feet serves as the foundation for the mild resemblance. So, too, does what ESPN has called his "great motor and infectious energy." The closely cropped brown hair is a departure from the red-headed Cowens.

His stock has risen dramatically, going from barely cracking the top 100 to becoming the No. 5 prospect in the country, according to Rivals.

"This has come a little fast," McGary told a crowd of reporters Thursday. "I wasn't expecting it this fast. It's blowing out of proportion."

McGary was reluctant to talk about his college options. "I don't want a lot of schools to think they're out of the picture," he said.

McGary did say that Maryland has been most diligent in its pursuit.

Other schools making a concerted effort include Connecticut, Florida, Texas and West Virginia, he said before adding, "Kentucky calls a lot. And Kansas."

A moment later, McGary added, "Duke and North Carolina are coming at me hard."

As the national recruiting interest intensified, in-state schools like Indiana and Purdue faded away.

"They kind of stopped talking to me," he said. "Everything blew out of proportion. They seemed to lose interest."

Maryland's advantage is assistant coach Orlando "Bino" Ranson. He's longtime friends with one of McGary's coaches and a tireless recruiter.

"Like an aggressive salesman," McGary said with a smile. "Like a car salesman trying to get you to buy."

When asked about Kentucky, McGary did not gush.

"They say they want to get me down for an unofficial (visit)," he said. "I'll have to see. This summer I have a lot of things planned."

Not too long ago McGary probably was not so nonchalant about college choices. By his own admission, he was a baseball wannabe in Chesterton. His father encouraged him to play baseball.

The move to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., not only got McGary to do better with his schoolwork, his basketball skills improved dramatically.

"There were eight high-major Division I players this year" at Brewster, he said. "The play in practice was unbelievable."

Earlier this spring, McGary played well enough to get an invitation to the Top 100 Camp.

When seeking NBA role models, McGary does not go back to ancient times when Cowens patrolled the paint for the Boston Celtics.

"I like Lamar Odom," he said. "He's my favorite player."

When asked why he liked Odom, McGary smiled and said, "We're both 6-10 and left-handed."

That led a reporter to ask if McGary might be eyeing a Kardashian sister? He replied with a quick, "No, sir."

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