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April 17, 2013

Tim Hardaway Jr. talks NBA dreams

Michigan junior Tim Hardaway Jr.'s career at U-M is over. The junior announced Wednesday he would make himself available for the NBA Draft, following sophomore point guard Trey Burke's similar decision Monday.

Hardaway, a first team All-Big Ten selection, leaves after helping lead the Wolverines to the national championship game, an 82-76 loss to Louisville. Hardaway Jr. was awarded the Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player Award after averaging career bests for points (14.5), rebounds (4.7), assists (2.4), field goal percentage (43.7) and three-point field goal percentage (37.4).

Hardaway started all 107 games he played during his three-year career with the Wolverines, but most have him projected as a second-round pick. Head coach John Beilein said he gathered the necessary information from the NBA draft advisory committee and supported Hardaway's decision.

"If he wants to go, then we want him to go," he said. "I'm really happy for Tim today, because Tim has really wrestled with this decision for a while. He's gained a lot of information - as you well know, he's pretty well connected to the NBA, understands the competitive level of the NBA, how hard you have to work.''

Hardaway leaned on his father for advice, but he made it clear it was nobody's decision but his own. He didn't disclose the information he received about his potential draft slot.

''It wasn't about the advisory committee, it was about my decision and what I wanted to do,'' Hardaway said, noting he believed he'd be a first round pick. ''I obviously had input from my coaches and my father, but it was my decision and they were behind me 100 percent.

''You dream about this moment since you were a kid. My dad and my coaching staff put me in the right position, and all this comes from my mom. My mom has done a great job of just keeping me level-headed, raising me the right way and making sure that I respect others."

Beilein said Hardaway had all the facts he needed to make his choice.

"My job in this case is to make sure that my player is making an educated decision, and this is an extremely educated decision," Beilein said. "Tim's collected all the information possible, and he knows better than anyone here what he'll be facing, so I think he's ready."

Ready, but aware of what he's leaving behind. He shook hands and hugs with each of his teammates before going up to the podium.

"I wouldn't want to go anywhere else but Michigan," he said. "It was a great opportunity to play for Coach Beilein, coming from where I wasn't ranked in high school at all, now going to the national championship game. It's been a dream come true.

"There were some accolades in there, but nothing will beat me being a Michigan man and going out here and performing out here the way myself and my team did."

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