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February 18, 2014

Wolverines in the Pros: Several updates

As reported over the weekend, New York Knicks rookie Tim Hardaway, Jr. put on a show at the Rising Stars Challenge for rookies and second year players over the weekend. Here's plenty on Hardaway, Trey Burke and several other Wolverines in the NFL.

Hardaway was averaging 9.2 points and 1.5 rebounds per game for the Knicks as of Feb. 17, shooting 45.1 percent from the floor. His father, former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway, Jr., said he knew his son would be an NBA success.

"I knew this all along,'' Hardaway Sr. told the New York Post. The two were teammates, along with the WNBA's Elena Della Donne, Saturday night in the Shooting Stars, though the team of Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins and Swin Cash, beat them and won the event. "A lot of people say I'm biased. That's my son. I know basketball. I played and evaluated it all my life. I said this all along - I see a lot of my competitiveness in him. He wants to win."

The Utah Jazz' Burke, meanwhile, earned his second straight NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month award, this time for January. He teamed with Portland All-Star guard Damian Lillard to win the all-star skills relay Feb. 18 and a $100,000 donation for the Teach for America & Wounded Warrior Project.

The two navigated the course that tests speed, agility, passing and shooting in a time of 45.2 seconds, just better than the East squad of Philadelphia rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams and Orlando shooting guard Victor Oladipo, who finished in 45.3.

Burke was averaging 12.5 points, 5.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game as of Feb. 17. His scoring numbers for January - 11.8 points to go with 6.8 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game - were down, but it was good enough to earn Rookie of the Month honors again.

Other NBA notes:

  • Jamal Crawford (2000), SG, Los Angeles Clippers, averages 18.6 points, 3.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game. He has averaged 23.4 points and shot 95.5 percent from the free throw line (42-of-44) in his last five games.

  • Darius Morris (2010-11), PG, is now with the Memphis Grizzlies. He has spent time with Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Clippers (on two, 10-day contracts) and was picked up by the Grizzlies in February. He has averaged 4.0 points, one rebound and 1.6 assists in 27 games played.

  • Manny Harris was recently named an NBDL all-star, having excelled with the Los Angeles D-fenders. The Los Angeles Lakers signed him to two, 10-day contracts this year, the second expiring Feb. 4, when he put up 19 points in a loss to Minnesota. He played nine games with the Lakers this season, averaging 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds.

    With the D-Fenders, Harris averaged 30.6 points and 6.5 rebounds a game before being called up and has excelled since. He scored 56 points and added 16 rebounds in a win over Santa Cruz Feb. 9 and notched six points and four assists in the Futures team's D-League All-Star game win over the Prospects Feb. 15.

    NFL Notes

  • According to NJ.com, NFL commissioner turned to former Michigan and current Philadelphia receiver Jason Avant for advice on how to deal with bullying in the NFL.

    "Commissioner,'' Avant said, "we need you to set standards. We need you to make it black and white. We need standards, and if we don't meet them, we shouldn't be here."

    Not surprisingly, NJ.com called Avant "the most respected player in the Eagles' locker room.

  • Former Michigan lineman and current Pittsburgh linebacker LaMarr Woodley is training in Florida to help prevent recurring hamstring issues, mlive.com reports. Shaw's workouts reportedly focus on building up leg muscles by running on a variety of surfaces, including trails and sandpits.

    Woodley isn't certain he'll be back in Pittsburgh next year. He has missed 14 games and parts of six others while taking part in only 56 percent of the plays since signing a big contract in 2011.

    "He's had to battle some injuries, unfortunately for him and for us," head coach Mike Tomlin told triblive.com after Woodley was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury in December.

    Woodley notched 35 sacks his first three years, collecting 113 tackles, 18 sacks, 40 pressures while missing a possible 1,000 snaps.

    "Three years of nagging injuries that's led to a lack of production, along with a hefty price tag left on his contract, could make the 29-year old Woodley a salary cap casualty in March," triblive.com added. "The Steelers could save $25 million in salary over the final three years if they release Woodley.

  • A pair of former Michigan quarterbacks could end up back in Jacksonville next year. The Jaguars are considering taking a quarterback with the third overall pick of this year's draft, but that might not spell the end of former Michigan quarterback Chad Henne's time with the team. The team has plans to reach out to Henne's agent, the Florida Times-Union reports, given he's a veteran presence that's capable on offense.

    Henne played in 15 games last year, starting 14, and completed 305 of 503 passes for 3,241 yards.

    Former U-M quarterback Denard Robinson, meanwhile, hopes to make a bigger impact for the Jaguars next season. His one pass attempt last year was an incompletion, and he only ran the ball 20 times for 66 yards and failed to catch a pass in his rookie year. He had four kickoff returns for 88 yards with a long of 27.

    "I think this year has been really good for him," coach Gus Bradley said. "He asked me during the season, 'How do I need to get better, what do I need to do?'

    "Part of it is just he needs experience. He went out there and got some experience and it really came to light. He needs to be more consistent in how he handles the ball, more consistent in his protections. My hope is that this has been a good process for him and he makes big strides. He's such a competitor; I know he's going after it."

  • Former Michigan offensive lineman Jake Long, now with the St. Louis Rams, underwent reconstructive surgery on his knee in January, the St. Louis Post-Dispatchreported Jan. 23. Long was injured in the Rams' Week 16 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Dec. 22. His knee buckled while pass blocking and tests later revealed that he had a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) as well as a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL).

  • Leon Hall continues to recover from his second Achilles' tendon injury suffered against Detroit this fall. He's on pace to return this fall, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.


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