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June 19, 2013Michigan head coach John Beilein has faced a different kind of problem recently than he has in the past - early NBA entry candidates. He told The Huge Show's Bill Simonson there were some restless moments when it appeared as though his team might lose four starters from last year's championship team, but he was firmly behind those who chose to leave.
He was also more than willing to provide information to freshmen Glen Robinson III and Mitch McGary. Both chose to stay after guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. decided to go. While Burke's decision was a no-brainer, Hardaway is proving in camp he might have made the right move, too, having moved up on several draft boards.
"He has a different look at it because his dad is o close to the NBA, a scout with the Miami Heat," Beilein said. "There's been sort of a feel - he and his mom and dad felt it was the right time. They really believed this was a good time to go, and as it's turned out with his workouts and all the different things he's done, he's been right on.
"We tell them to follow their hearts, educate them like crazy on what they need to know. If their heart is telling them one thing, it would be really hard to approach a year like we want you to if your heart is in the NBA. He was as ready as he thought he would ever be. That's all we care about. He wanted to go, and we have confidence it is all going to work out for him."
Beilein and his staff approached 21 NBA teams for their opinions on McGary and Robinson III, as well. Both had great options, but they were certain they wanted to stay one more season and were welcomed back.
Beilein said he didn't foresee an early exodus problem when he recruited the four standouts.
"This was not planned," he said. "It wasn't like there were, as we call them, 'pros at the prom' - kids everyone is recruiting in high school who they know will be pros after one or two years. That wasn't who we recruited. None of the four were McDonald's All-Americans, and we were planning for those guys to be three- of four-year guys when we recruited them.
"But if you see they want to go early and it's the right decision, you've got to let them go. It would have been tough losing four, but at the same time knowing you're at least doing a good job recruiting. I think David Brandon and everybody at the U. would have understood we'd be younger, and we were the fifth or sixth youngest team in the country last year. It's part of the business we have to go through right now in recruiting."
And part of the reason it's so important to continue to recruit at a high level, as they have been.
"You can maybe have one bad year," Beilein said. "But you'd better not have two."
Beilein has always been popular in the state, but it's reached new heights. He was asked to throw out the first pitch at the Detroit Tigers game with Baltimore last night.
"I did it once this year already for a Michigan baseball game, and it was okay," he said. "I brought in some 56 mile an hour heat, so I'm trying to do the same thing. Pitch location is huge. I'll try to throw a strike."
Beilein told the Detroit News he got good advice from Tigers legend Al Kaline.
"He said, 'Throw it high,'" Beilein joked. "Nobody minds if you throw it high, just don't throw it low. It's the first time I ever met Al Kaline, so it was good advice. I grabbed a four-seamer and tried to throw it.
"I was actually a little nervous. I would say I chickened out at the end when I got out there and said I would bring this baby. But then I thought about something going into the dirt or over the top, so I just threw it in there."
Beilein told the News he got to meet with Tigers manager Jim Leyland briefly before the game. He found out Leyland follows college basketball.
"He's a big college basketball fan, and that's the second time I've been able to do that and it's really special because you don't realize that - someone of his magnitude as a professional coach for so many years and a player - he's actually sitting there and rooting for you in a game," Beilein said.
"Some of those teams might not need a point guard, so they are trying to figure it all out," he said. "You can drop three of four spots because someone doesn't need a point guard. Trey Burke dropping in draft might be he went from two to four.
"It's crazy to think about that's a drop. First round to second is a drop. He is in a position right now where he is real confident he'll be among the first picks. I'm going to go to New York to be with him, and wherever he goes, that's the right pick. That's all it is. If someone didn't believe in him enough to draft him, they shouldn't draft him. I know that young man will have a chip on his shoulder trying to prove everybody he can do this. I have no doubt he will.
ESPN currently has Burke going No. 8 to the Detroit Pistons.
"I think he'd be terrific wherever he goes," Beilein said. "It would really be nice to have him so close. He's a high character young man who would be a great role model for young players, great for the community. I'd love to see the Pistons draft him."
"They have exploded. They are all sold out," he said. "So we're busy, but it's a good busy."