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June 11, 2013Many questioned Michigan junior Tim Hardaway Jr.'s decision when he decided to forego his senior season for a shot at the NBA Draft. Several solid workouts and an outstanding draft combine later, Hardaway now looks like a solid first round pick.
Some have him as high as No. 11 overall, while almost all have him as a first round pick after he'd initially been projected as a second rounder.
"He has the pedigree, the positional size and the basketball instincts to play in the NBA for a long time, even as a solid role player," ESPN.com's Fran Fraschilla wrote. "People in the Michigan basketball program have told me that he already handles himself like a 10-year pro."
Hardaway didn't have any regrets when he left, and he certainly doesn't now.
"It was just a team effort. I talked to the coaching staff, my mom and dad, even my teammates just making sure I made the right decision that was best for me," Hardaway told The Huge Show's Bill Simonson recently. "I'm feeling confident in my ability to play at the next level. I'm ready for the challenge."
Hardaway was No. 1 at the combine in shooting drills on day one, going 19 of 25 from three-point range in shooting drills May 16. He notched a 37.5-inch vertical leap and showed off his athleticism and improving ball skills. He's worked out for Minnesota and several others in the Midwest - New York, most recently - and is willing to audition for anyone and everyone.
"I'm working my way out to the west then the east coast," he said. "I have a long way to go, but I want to work out as much as possible so teams can evaluate me, and I can show them I'm ready to play at the next level. The majority of Midwestern and Central teams really seem to like me.
"I've just been in the gym each and every day getting better. I'm working out from 9:00 to 12 every morning, lifting afterward, getting better and stronger. I'm improving each and every day. I go to work outs and show energy, passion for the gam, and I'm very confident in my skills. I'm still just getting more consistent on my shot - I have to improve in every aspect, take it to next level so in the NBA I can provide extra energy or lift whenever I'm on the court."
Hardaway leaves Ann Arbor knowing he helped awaken a sleeping giant, one of his goals when he arrived. His most memorable moment - standing in the Georgia Dome before the national title game with Louisville in front of 75,000 fans - is one he'll never forget.
"It was an honor and privilege to be there and play there in front of all those people, and at the University of Michigan," he said. "It was not one thing that made me leave - it was just me being confident. I don't have any regrets leaving, but Ann Arbor is a great city. I love Michigan to death. I just felt it was right for me to leave at this time, take care of my own business.
"I think I've left a great legacy at the University of Michigan. I'm proud of that program and what we've been carrying since I've been there. It's great to be part of that Michigan history. I think I showed them a guy who never gave up, never quit, was very passionate and gave it all on the court for the Michigan program. I feel happy where we've taken the program from Manny Harris to Zack Novak, to all the seniors this year."
And Hardaway and sophomore Trey Burke, too, who have proven U-M is a great option for kids who have their eyes on the NBA.