ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Tim Hardaway Jr. decision to leave for the NBA might not seem like the no-brainer it was for backcourt mate Trey Burke.
Hardaway Jr. isn’t projected as a lottery pick like the departing sophomore point guard. There’s a chance he could sneak into the first round if he has exceptional workouts. There’s a chance he could end up in the late second round or go undrafted if those same workouts don’t go well.
But it is a chance, at this point, Hardaway Jr. was wise to take.
He has done what he needed to do on the college level. He helped Michigan reach its first Final Four in 20 years. He was a first-team All-Big Ten player. And he stayed in college for three years, which is often an eternity for a player who has pro aspirations and makes himself well-known as a freshman.
More than any of Michigan’s other pro prospects, Hardaway Jr. understands what he is getting into. He has lived in the shadows of this lifestyle since he was born. His father was a first-round pick, played in the NBA for 13 seasons and was a five-time All-Star. Now, the son gets a chance to live the basketball life either in the United States or overseas.
If his goal was Europe, then it would make sense to stay because that would always be there. But if his goal is the NBA -- and it clearly is -- it is wise to make the jump now when people are paying attention to him.
The departure might mean Michigan will need some more scoring from freshman Derrick Walton Jr. or sophomore Spike Albrecht as well, but more shots for Stauskas and Robinson III along with shots for Irvin should make up the difference.