ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Tim Hardaway Jr. is moving on to the next challenge, well aware that he’ll still need to prove himself if he’s going to follow his father’s footsteps in the NBA.
“Everybody’s going in there with the same mindset,” Hardaway said. “There’s no leeway.”
Hardaway announced Wednesday that he’ll forgo his senior season at Michigan and enter the NBA draft. He’s the second Wolverine to declare early for this year’s draft — national player of the year Trey Burke announced his departure Sunday.
Burke could be one of the top players taken, but Hardaway’s status is less clear. The 6-foot-6 guard started all 107 games he played during his three-year career with the Wolverines, but he’s projected as a second-round pick by DraftExpress.
Players can seek input from an NBA draft advisory committee before leaving school, but Hardaway said the final choice was one he had to make himself.
“This was my decision. It wasn’t about the advisory committee, it was about my decision and what I wanted to do,” Hardaway said. “I obviously had input from my coaches and my father, but it was my decision and they were behind me 100 percent.”
Hardaway’s father played in the NBA from 1989-2003. The younger Hardaway, who is 6 inches taller, averaged 14.5 points in his final season at Michigan, helping the Wolverines reach the Final Four for the first time since 1993. Michigan lost to Louisville in the championship game.
“Really happy for Tim today, because Tim has really wrestled with this decision for a while,” coach John Beilein said. “He’s gained a lot of information — as you well know, pretty well connected to the NBA, understands the competitive level of the NBA, how hard you have to work.”
There’s been no announcement yet on the futures of Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, two talented freshmen who could also leave Michigan for the draft.
Hardaway made an immediate impact as a freshman at Michigan, and although his 3-point shooting dipped to 28.3 percent as a sophomore, it improved to a career-best 37.4 percent this season.
As a junior, Hardaway was something of an elder statesman on a team that relied heavily on him, sophomore Burke and several freshmen.
Now, Hardaway is eager to see where he stands at the professional level.
“You dream about this moment since you were a kid,” Hardaway said. “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.”