CORAL GABLES -- Fighting back tears, Shane Larkin made it official. He's NBA bound after two Miami seasons, but the decision was far from easy.
In fact he was completely sold on returning to Coral Gables after a disappointing showing in the season-ending loss to Marquette in the Sweet 16. But, as the sophomore guard said, his dream was staring him in the face.
"It's just been the best year of my life by far," the second-team All-American said Sunday evening. "It's just tough leaving that, knowing I could come back and have that same kind of support, but my dream is right here. Now I have to go get it."
The decision wasn't completely final until Saturday, Larkin said, even though his father strongly hinted at the verdict Friday. He's believed to be the first Miami sophomore and one of a few underclassmen to leave early for the draft.
The gruesome compound fractured leg suffered by Louisville's Kevin Ware in the NCAA tournament was among the factors that impacted his move. Concerns about his height did not.
The NBA draft advisory board said he'd be a late first-round, early second-round pick in spite of his 5-foot-11 frame. UM coach Jim Larranaga pointed to similar sized pro stars Chris Paul and Ty Lawson among others.
The doubters have been around since high school, Larkin said. That only fuels him.
"I felt no pressure in making this decision," he said. " ... I just followed my heart and if people can't accept that what I'm doing is what's best for me and what I believe in, then they're not a true fan."
And with 86 percent of the scoring gone from the best team in program history, there will be plenty more skeptics. So Larkin texted his now-former teammates Sunday morning with inspiration for the next step.
"Especially with me leaving, they're going to say we have no chance now," said Larkin, the team's leading scorer last season averaging 14.5 points a game. "... That's just motivation to me."
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