State Colleges

Point guard Shane Larkin decides to leave UM for NBA Draft

A teary-eyed Shane Larkin on Sunday announced his decision to skip his final two years of eligibility at the University of Miami and enter the 2013 NBA Draft, calling it “the most difficult decision” of his life and one he waffled on “100 times” because of his love for the school and the city.

He said immediately after the Hurricanes lost to Marquette in the Sweet 16, he vowed to return because the loss “left a bad taste in my mouth and I didn’t want to leave UM like that.” But, his stock was rising on the draft board, and the injury to Louisville’s Kevin Ware during the NCAA Tournament weighed on him heavily.

“The Kevin Ware injury happened and I thought, if I did come back to school and something horrific happened, even though it’s a once in a million chance, would I be able to live with myself, saying that my dream was right here for me to take it and I didn’t and something happened where I couldn’t play to the level I was before,” he said. “That’s one of the main things I was thinking about.”

Larkin handled his remarks with the same grace and poise he showed on the court, going out of his way to thank everyone from coach Jim Larrañaga to the assistants to the team managers and fans.

“I don’t want this to be a sad moment for UM,” he said. “I want it to be a celebration of how much success we had this year. Without the success we had as a team this season, I wouldn’t be able to be in this position, making this jump to NBA. Coach L is really the reason I think I can go out there and make this next step, be on my own in a different city without my family, because of all the values he’s instilled in me.”

Larkin said the word he got from NBA executives and scouts is that he’d be drafted late in the first round or early second round. As for doubters who say he’s too short at 5-11, Larkin says he’s used to it, and it serves as motivation.

“The height’s the height,” he said. “If I came back next year, I’m still gonna be 5-11 and there’s still going to be doubters. I could come back, average 20 points and 10 assists, but I’m still 5-11. That’s what some NBA teams aren’t going to like about me, and those teams won’t pick me. It’s what’s helped me be the player I am because it’s been the motivating factor for me. I like people who doubt me. That just gives me more drive. I want to prove them wrong with my play.”

Larkin said he sought advice from NBA players he knows, and he feels confident he can compete at that level. He is eager to get to the NBA combines to display his speed, 42-inch vertical jump and strength.

“I talked to [Orlando Magic forward and UM alum] DeQuan Jones. He told me the court is so much more spread, that you don’t have two guys waiting in the paint for you to get there, so it’s gonna be easier to get in the lane, even though athletes are better at that level. I talked to Ty Lawson, he’s a smaller guy. I asked him what it’s like up there. He said it’s a lot more physical. He thinks I can play at that level. It really just comes down to me believing in myself.”

Larrañaga certainly believes in Larkin, so much so that he believes he could wind up being a Top 20 pick.

“If you ask me when I thought he was going to be ready for the NBA, I’d tell you when I saw him in the 10th grade,” the coach said. “First time I saw him in Orlando, I said, ‘This kid’s gonna be great.’ I’m so excited for him, and I think we’re all in for a real treat watching his career unfold.”

Larrañaga said Larkin’s departure is yet another milestone for the program and will help with recruiting.

“If someone we’re recruiting says, ‘Hey, you ever had somebody go 1-and-done or 2-and-done?’ We can now say, ‘Yes, Shane Larkin did.’”

Related stories from Miami Herald