Michigan's 1-2 duo of point guard Trey Burke and shooting guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. might have formed the best backcourt in the country last season. The NCAA Finalists are now both expected to go in the first round of Thursday night's NBA Draft.
It's been a great ride for both players at Michigan, albeit shorter than expected. Head coach John Beilein said last week he didn't recruit either with the idea they'd leave early, but work ethic and player development have helped each make their way to the NBA's doorstep.
Here's a look at where things stand with each heading into tonight's draft.
Trey Burke, 6-1 Point Guard, Columbus, Ohio
Burke was almost a Cincinnati Bearcat after de-committing from Penn State, but he wanted to play in the Big Ten. Michigan afforded him that opportunity, and he became arguably the top point guard in U-M's storied history. He also opened the floodgates on point guard recruiting - several targets have said they'd love to follow in his (and freshman Derrick Walton's, presumably) shoes.
The national player of the year solidified his stock as one of the best in the draft with an outstanding NCAA Tournament. His final few minutes and overtime against Kansas, in which he hit a 28-footer to send it to overtime, was legendary. He also enjoyed a solid pre-draft camp and visited the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, and Sacramento Kings. Four of them have picks of No. 8 or better in the draft.
Prognosis: Following Burke and his family on Facebook has been a joy. His father and agent, Benji (working for Infinite Sports Concepts run by his cousin, Alonzo Shavers), has documented the family's last few weeks on Facebook, from camps to traveling around New York City with the family in preparation for tonight's draft. Both Burkes have passes to the draft's green room, reserved for those expected to be top 10 to 13 picks.
Burke's status has fluctuated, but most believe he'll still be the first or second point guard taken. He's not as big as some of the other guards being considered, but he's a winner and his work ethic is second to none.
Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams (6-6) and LeHigh guard C.J. McCollom (6-3) are two Burke is competing with for a position. It seems most likely, though, Burke will go to Sacramento at No. 7 (the Kings won't re-sign Tyreke Evans) or the Detroit Pistons at No. 8. If Burke is around, the Pistons would have a hard time passing him up.
Tim Hardaway Jr., 6-6 Shooting Guard, Miami, Fla.
A lot of people still think of him as Tim Hardaway's son, Hardaway said recently, but he's made a name of his own. Head coach John Beilein said his three-year standout has one of the prettiest jumpers he's ever seen, and Hardaway proved it by making 19 of 25 triples in one stretch during the pre-draft combine.
We were critical of Hardaway's decision to leave early when he announced his intentions, but he's quickly established himself as a likely first round pick. Some even believe he could be a top 15 pick if the fit is right, though ESPN.com has him going No. 25 overall to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Hardaway worked Midwest out on his visits with teams and has worked out with the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs and the Clippers.
Prognosis: Though he's raw and still needs to improve his handle, Hardaway has the athleticism and work ethic - along with the jumper - to succeed in the NBA. The Clippers, the San Antonio Spurs (No. 28) and the New York Knicks all have needs for a shooting guard, and it's possible Hardaway could go to the Knicks at No. 24.
"They are looking for help on the perimeter," one person briefed on the Knicks' draft strategy told NewJersey.com. "A small forward would be nice. They lost to Indiana and got outrebounded, but Tyson Chandler wasn't right. They feel they can get a big man in free agency."
The swingmen on their radar are Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr., California shooting guard Allen Crabbe, North Carolina's Reggie Bullock and New Mexico's Tony Snell, they added.