The trend of John Beilein sending players to the NBA started with Manny Harris. Harris was recruited by Tommy Amaker, but Beilein helped the shooting guard develop into a lethal scorer. While Harris failed to find a steady job in the association, he set single scoring game records for several of the D-League teams he was on.
After Harris, there was a drought. Beilein was recruiting the Zach Novaks and Stu Douglasses of the world, overlooked prospects that would make the most out of their talent.
Then Darius Morris arrived on the scene. A 6’4 guard who excelled at bullying smaller players, Morris would become the focal point of Beilein’s permitter oriented offense. Morris would leave after two seasons, and was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. He too has bounced around the league, but was another sign that players could go to Michigan and go pro.
Perhaps that’s what swayed Tim Hardaway, Jr. to leave Florida to head north. The son of a former NBA star, Hardaway was one of the recruits Michigan fans were buzzing about. He was a streaky shooter with an underrated athleticism. He stayed three years at Michigan, turning pro after Michigan lost in the title game.
And then there was Alfonso “Trey” Burke. Burke needs no introduction, and everyone knows the story of the former three star point guard who swept National Player of the Year categories. After the title game, everyone knew Trey Burke would be gone. He had nothing more to prove.
Michigan basketball produces NBA players. It isn’t Kentucky, a farm system for the pros. But it is a place where players can learn from some of the game’s best offensive minds in Beilein and LaVall Jordan, where they can prep to have great careers in the NBA.
Evidence of Beilein’s development is finally shown through. Harris and Morris were fringe top 100 players in the country, and the Michigan staff helped them turn the pro.
And now, it isn’t even in question. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. made the NBA’s first team All-Rookie. Burke, after a dismal summer league and injury, became a shot of of life for the Utah Jazz. Hardaway had solid minutes off the bench for the New York Knicks, averaging 10 points a game.
Credit is also due for the individual players, because Burke and Hardaway are both known as hard-working gym rats. Hardaway shot up the draft boards after initially being projected to the second round, and Burke is notorious for staying after practices. However, it is still a reflection of Beilein: he recruits those with character and work ethic, and it shows.
This wasn’t the first award the two have been given, as each were selected to play in the Rookie-Sophomore game. Hardaway ended up stealing the show, pouring in 36 points.
Both Burke and Hardaway are looking to expand on their games, and hopefully help guide their teams to winning records. They have also set a high bar for the incoming draft class of Wolverines, as Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary will have some lofty expectations.
Even if those three can’t measure up to Burke and Hardaway, John Beilein has proved he can put Michigan players in the NBA draft.