Big Man Pulls Out Of NBA Draft And Opts To Play His Senior Season For Cal

June 28, 2007

By Ryan Gorcey
Daily Californian

June 28, 2007

Berkeley, CA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- After a lengthy decision-making process, the Cal basketball team's junior center DeVon Hardin decided last Monday that he will return for his senior season with the Bears and forgo the 2007 NBA Draft.Hardin's announcement came after an erroneous report in the San Francisco Chronicle last Sunday which stated Hardin would sign with an agent.

'Everybody's trying to be so cleaver today and get some story behind the story,' Cal head coach Ben Braun said. 'Just call DeVon or his father or call the head coach-that's me-and I'll give you what's happening. I think I know better than a friend or an anonymous source.'

The announcement was made just in time, as the deadline for withdrawing from the draft was 5 p.m. on Monday, the day that Michael Hardin-DeVon's father-announced the decision to

Hardin was slated to team with Freshman All-American Ryan Anderson to form one of the more formidable front-courts in the Pac-10 last season, but he suffered a stress fracture in his foot and played in only 11 games for the Bears, averaging 10.7 points and 8.4 rebounds a game.

'DeVon last year was very close to averaging a double-double, very close,' Braun said. 'And he was doing it despite being in foul trouble a number of games. He was putting up rebounds and points even though he wasn't logging a lot of minutes.'

After recovering from his foot injury, Hardin impressed many coaches and scouts at NBA workouts for the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. His family paid for the trip expenses in order to retain Hardin's NCAA eligibility in the case that he decided to return.

In coming back for his senior season, Hardin will reunite with Anderson and sophomore forward Theo Robertson to form a very potent front line for Cal.

'When that group was together, I thought we had great chemistry,' Braun said. 'It was nice to have a little depth.'

In games in which Hardin started, the Bears were 8-3 and averaged 73.5 points per game. Without Hardin in the lineup, Cal went 8-14 and averaged 67.45 points.

'He made a big difference on our team,' Braun said. 'He solidified a lot of things and in a year where we were already kind of thin with some injuries, (losing him) was tough.'

Perhaps most significant was Hardin's defensive absence. In games which Hardin played, the Bears allowed 61.36 points per game. Without his shot-blocking and defensive presence against tougher teams later in the schedule, Cal allowed 73 points per game.

Now, back and motivated to become a draft-lottery pick in next year's draft, Hardin has to shoulder a great load of expectations, a task for which Braun believes his center is ready.

'I'm proud of DeVon because he's taken on that challenge; a lot of players might not have taken that challenge and made the easier decision (to go to the NBA),' Braun said. 'He could have made the easier decision, but he made the tougher decision, and I'm proud that he's taken that challenge straight on. He knows what's ahead of him and he knows how difficult it's going to be, and a true competitor and a confident person takes those things on. They want your best shot and they know it's not going to be easy. That's what he knows and he now will expect that.'

(C) 2007 Daily Californian via CSTV U-WIRE

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