Brandon's Blog: Preparing Student-Athletes for More Than the NBA
MGOBLUE Jordan Morgan
MGOBLUE
Jordan Morgan
MGOBLUE

June 28, 2014

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

Life on the road recruiting high school basketball players is not easy. Coaches travel many miles, spend a lot of time away from their families and homes, and get only a few hours of sleep as they make coast-to-coast recruiting visits. It is a challenging undertaking to stay one step ahead of other college coaching staffs attempting to recruit a young, star player to their campus.

In the world of big-time college basketball, U-M head coach John Beilein and our Wolverine assistant coaches could be considered renaissance men when you examine the complex phenomenon known as basketball recruiting. They still log the miles and work as hard as anyone in their profession, but the message they deliver is unique, straightforward and resonates among the type of players who attend the University of Michigan:

Come and play for Michigan, do not come and play at Michigan.

It might seem to be in conflict with what has occurred with the NBA Draft this week as three Wolverine underclassmen -- Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary -- were selected to play at the next level. However, when our U-M staff talks to a recruit about playing for the Maize and Blue, professional basketball is not the main talking point.

Most college basketball recruits have dreams and aspirations of going to the pros, and the U-M coaching staff embraces those dreams. They tell prospects if they are going to be a student-athlete, don't plan on attending the University of Michigan if you are in a hurry to leave. Unpack your bags and stay awhile!

Michigan is a destination. It is not to be used as a springboard to jump to the professional ranks. If their athletic career takes off during their time here and it makes sense for them and their families to explore the opportunity to go pro, the staff will counsel and help them every step of the way. The young man may not always heed the advice of our coaches, but they can be assured they will receive an honest and qualified assessment of their options and the risks associated with each option.

The Michigan Athletics administrative team is in lock step with our coaches. This team works together to collect all the pertinent information for these student-athletes. We get as much feedback as possible from the NBA Undergraduate Committee. The network of NBA coaches, scouts and front office personnel our coaching staff has developed gives our student-athletes an accurate portrayal of the expected range of interest an individual will receive from the professional teams in the drafting process.

The goal is to set them up for a sustainable career in the NBA, not just to get drafted. When someone attends the University of Michigan as a student-athlete, the goal is to develop a sustainable, successful career in whatever industry or profession he chooses.

While the media coverage of Michigan basketball players being selected in the NBA Draft takes center stage, the bigger story of Michigan Basketball is defined by another picture. The shot is Jordan Morgan surrounded by two Big Ten championship trophies, one Final Four trophy, plus other well-deserved awards. In this photo, he's not wearing his basketball uniform; he's wearing a cap and gown, the same cap and gown he wore after graduating with undergrad and master's degrees in engineering from U-M. This photo does a better job of defining the aspirations of Michigan Basketball than any other video, story or photo ever could. And we will do everything possible to ensure that our departing NBA pros will return to finish their degrees and get photographed in their caps and gowns as well.

Since Beilein took over as the Wolverines' head coach, every player who has stayed four years at U-M has received at least one degree from the University of Michigan. These men have taken full advantage of their opportunities as student-athletes at U-M and are prepared for successful careers in the "real world" whenever their "life after athletics" begins.

Whether it be professional basketball or a career in another field, Beilein and his coaching staff are developing student-athletes to be good husbands, good fathers, active members of their community, and leaders in their chosen fields of endeavor.

These Michigan Men are champions on and off the court, and we are so proud of them for the way they represent our university community.

Go Blue!

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