Shane Larkin, 5-foot-10 point guard, Miami: The son of baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin carved out his own name for himself as the leader of a Hurricanes' team that had the most successful season in school history. The diminutive floor general blends both well-rounded scoring ability and playmaking skills, using his extreme quickness to combat his lack of size. Following a banner season on the college level, Larkin intrigued NBA personnel people and after going back and forth on whether or not to return to school, his draft stock is rising.
Career highlights: After transferring from DePaul before even playing a game for the Blue Demons, Larkin had a solid freshman campaign at Miami, earned the starting point guard job and was named to the ACC's all-freshman team. He took it up another notch as a sophomore, garnering first-team all-conference honors and winning the ACC tournament MVP award, as well as helping the Hurricanes achieve the program's highest national ranking ever and sweep the ACC regular-season and tournament titles for the first time, Some of the top games for the third-team All-American and ACC Coaches' Player of the Year include an 18-point, 10-rebound, five-assist outing in a win over then-No. 1 Duke, the first time "The U" knocked off the nation's top-ranked team, a 25-point game that featured three-pointers in a duel with nation's leading scorer Erick Green of Virginia Tech and a career-high 28-point affair in a victory over North Carolina that was attended by Miami Heat superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Strengths: Not only does Larkin possess dangerous quickness, he knows how to use it, as evidenced by his mastery of ball screens, which bodes well for his future in the pick-and-roll heavy offenses of the NBA. Larkin is a willing passer, but has excellent shooting range, can knock down pull-up jumpers off the dribble, is a clever finisher in the lane and on occasion, displays eye-popping athleticism, which helps him be a better rebounder than his size suggests. Defensively, he utilizes his quickness to pester opposing ballhandlers and when he's off the ball, anticipate passes for easy steals.
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Weaknesses: Larkin's main issue at the next level will be his size deficiency, which bigger and stronger point guards will attempt to use against him on both ends of the floor. He will be susceptible to the post-up game, offensive players will shoot over him and due to his slight frame, they will also get physical with him. With only two years of college experience under his belt, he's still a very young player, so there will be a learning curve before he's fully entrusted with running an offense, though he did show great poise at Miami.
Draft projection: Partly because of his off-the-charts athletic-testing results at the NBA Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago last month, Larkin is rising up the boards and could be drafted right after the lottery. Regarded by some observers as highly as the third-best true point guard in the draft after consensus lottery picks Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams, Larkin's proficiency in pick-and-roll scenarios and extended range also boost his stock. While there's nothing he can do about his small stature, the recent success of the likes of Denver's Ty Lawson, for example, only give credence to the notion that Larkin can develop into a long-term starter who can excel in either half-court or transition and at the least, a change-of-pace guard off the bench.