The unlikely hero of Michigan's 2013 national title game appearance has played his last game for the Wolverines.
Spike Albrecht announced Friday morning he is ending his college career due to a genetic hip condition that has hampered him for the past two seasons. The senior guard underwent two hip surgeries in the offseason and has struggled to return to his previous form.
"This has been the toughest decision I have ever had to make," Albrecht said in a release from the school. "After taking a hard look at what is best for me and this team, I will be stepping away from the game that has meant so much to me.
"I am so thankful for what Coach Beilein, the assistants and the medical staff have done for me during my career and in particular over the last year while I was dealing with this injury. I just have a little more to go and I really need to take the proper time to finish my rehab."
Albrecht's early retirement is a tough ending to a memorable college career.
Appalachian State was the only Division I school interested enough in Albrecht to offer the Northfield Mt. Hermon Prep guard a scholarship until Michigan learned of him in March 2012. The Wolverines were desperate for a point guard because they feared star Trey Burke might turn pro after his freshman year, so they quickly offered Albrecht a scholarship, promising a reserve role if Burke remained and the chance to compete for a starting gig if he left.
Burke stayed one more year but Albrecht still found a way to make a memorable contribution as a freshman. He had seven points in the Elite Eight against Florida, sank two big threes in the Final Four against Syracuse and memorably erupted for 17 points in the first half of the national title game against Louisville after early foul trouble sidelined Burke. Michigan ultimately lost but Albrecht garnered enough newfound fame that he asked Kate Upton out on a date via social media the next day.
Albrecht eventually became a co-captain and key player for Michigan despite his lingering hip issues. He averaged 7.5 points and 3.9 assists per game last season, but has only managed 1.9 points and 1.4 assists in 8.6 minutes per game this season.
"This has been an agonizing decision for Spike, especially at this juncture of the season," Michigan coach John Beilein said in the release. "He has done so much to get back to this point, but his long-term health is what is most important now and in the future. We want only the best for Spike.
"He is a tremendous young man, who has had a very special career. His important role in our 2013 NCAA Tournament run and his incredible performance in the national title game were straight out of a storybook. His sophomore year we would not have won the Big Ten title or made a second straight trip in the Elite Eight without him."
Michigan is deep enough at guard to overcome Albrecht's absence, but it does make it especially important for the Wolverines that starting point guard Derrick Walton stays healthy.
Walton has missed Michigan's last two games as a result of a sprained left ankle. With Albrecht unable to make meaningful contributions, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman started in Walton's place.
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