Shane Larkin’s dream of playing in the NBA figures to become a reality on Thursday night.
But which team will select the former Miami point guard during the NBA Draft at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center?
Consensus says Larkin will be taken between the 14th (Utah) and 24th (New York) picks. His name also has been mentioned with Milwaukee (No. 15), Boston (No. 16), Brooklyn (No. 22) and Indiana (No. 23), as well as Utah’s second pick (No. 21).
One thing seems to be certain: Larkin’s stock rose after the draft combine in Chicago in May and in individual workouts with teams. When the sophomore declared for the draft on April 28, Canes coach Jim Larranaga said his NBA contacts were slotting the point guard between Nos. 20-35.
“Teams love his character and fell in love with him during interviews,” said Aran Smith, president of nbadraft.net. “There are a bunch of point guards who could go mid-first round. I think there’s even a chance Larkin could go at the end of the lottery. And if he slips, I don’t think he’ll slip too far.”
Other point guards expected to go early include Michigan’s Trey Burke, Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum, South Dakota State’s Nate Walters and Dennis Schroeder, from Germany.
“It’s a ‘point-guard league’ — everybody needs a good point guard,” Smith said. “There already are some young ones in the league that are good, so the demand’s not super strong.”
The son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry, Shane Larkin has many strengths. He’s quick, gets into the paint, can pull up and hit a jumper and or dish off to a teammate. He also displayed great leadership ability with the Hurricanes last season.
“I think the perception was there was this band of misfits and he brought them together,” Smith said. “He turned them into a cohesive unit.”
Larkin also showed adeptness at running the pick-and-roll — a popular NBA offensive tool.
At Chicago, Larkin exhibited great athleticism. His 44-inch vertical leap was the second-highest ever recorded at the combine.
“He really impressed with his vertical leap and his speed in a dead sprint,” one executive from an Eastern Conference team told FOX Sports Florida.
Still, there’s one significant concern about Larkin — his size. At 5 feet, 11 inches with a relatively short wingspan, he’ll be defending bigger players. Of course, not many NBA guards routinely post up.
“On first glance, Larkin doesn’t look like an NBA point guard in terms of body type, and he doesn’t look athletic,” Smith said. “I’m not 100 percent sure he’s an NBA point guard. But he could be very good and overcome the questions about him.”
Smith said he wouldn’t be surprised if Larkin were drafted to to be a backup or to be used as trade material.
“San Antonio drafted George Hill as a backup, molded him and then traded him and turned him into a future center piece in Kawhi Leonard,” Smith said.
“One guy Larkin gets compared to is D.J. Augustin. He was taken ninth (by Charlotte) and he’s better in the role as an elite level back up (with Indiana). I kind of see Larkin in that role. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to be a first-round pick.”
While Larkin is expected to go in the first round, Miami teammate Kenny Kadji could hear his name called in the second round. At 25, Kadji is older than his peers but offers the role of a “stretch 4” — a 6-11 forward who can step out and shoot the jumper.
Former Canes Durand Scott, Julian Gamble, Reggie Johnson and Trey McKinney Jones likely will not be drafted.
The last time two Hurricanes were selected in the same draft was 1970, when shooting guard Don Curnutt (10th round) and forward John Canady (15th) were chosen.
At least one South Florida basketball expert liked what he has seen from the Hurricanes draft eligible players.
“I think they got great potential,” LeBron James said. “Shane is definitely a guy that has an opportunity to be really good in our league. And I think some of the other UM guys as well. We’ll see what happens with the draft. I will be tuned in watching it.”