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Utah Jazz: Shane Larkin hopes athleticism tops size concerns

Published June 5, 2013 10:48 pm

NBA Draft • Guard out to prove he can hang with taller foes. competition.
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Shane Larkin knows the questions.

He's spending the days leading up to the NBA Draft on June 27 trying to provide the answers.

Larkin, a 5-foot-11 point guard from Miami, worked out for the Utah Jazz on Wednesday at the team's practice facility.

One of the things the Jazz wanted to see — like other teams interested in him — was whether Larkin is capable of defending bigger players.

To that end, Larkin was by far the smallest player invited to this workout.

The others included three guards — 6-5 Lorenzo Brown from North Carolina State, 6-5 Malik Story of Nevada and 6-7 Reggie Bullock of North Carolina — along with forwards Tony Mitchell of North Texas State and Amath M'Baye of Oklahoma.

"I was the shortest guy out there, so that's good," Larkin said. "I had to go out and show I can play against bigger players.

"… That's one of the questions about me. Can I play against bigger guys? So it was good to go out and try to prove that I can."

Since the Chicago scouting combine two weeks ago, Larkin's stock has risen sharply.

Despite his worrisome size, he demonstrated freakish athletic ability and became a player who will likely be picked in the middle of the first round.

The Jazz own the No. 14 pick in the first round. Milwaukee and Boston, the other two teams to work out Larkin, pick directly behind them at No. 15 and No. 16.

"I've seen people say, '[With] his height, can he play defense?' " Larkin said. "But proving I can play against bigger guys is big for me, and I think I did a pretty good job today."

Walt Perrin, the Jazz's vice president of player personnel, agreed.

"If a guy can play, it doesn't matter what his size is," he said. "It also helps how big his heart is, and Shane has a huge heart."

Asked if Larkin is worthy of being the 14th pick, Perrin said, "We think he can play. How well he plays on this level — because he will play on this level — is something we're still evaluating."

Larkin averaged 14.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists last season at upstart Miami, which surprised everyone by winning the Atlantic Coast Conference and reaching the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

Larkin believes the success helped him in the eyes of NBA scouts: "That put us in the spotlight — taking Miami from a team that had been mediocre in the ACC to having the type of season we had.

"Beating Duke by 27 at home, beating Carolina by 26, winning the ACC Tournament. That just really put us on the scene and helped all of us who are trying to be professionals. It helped us all chase our dream."

Larkin's father, Barry, is a Hall of Fame shortstop who spent 19 years with the Cincinnati Reds. But his son hasn't played baseball since he was 8 years old.

Shane Larkin turned to other sports after a YMCA coach told him to change the way he batted because he was doing it all wrong. Never mind that he was using techniques taught to him by Barry Larkin's teammates, Pete Rose and Tony Perez.

"I'm out there doing my thing," Shane Larkin said, "and the coach is like, 'Whoever taught you to hit doesn't know what they're talking about. So forget that. Just do what I tell you to do.'

"I tried to do what he told me to do, but I wasn't successful the rest of the season. And that was my last year of organized baseball — ever."

The Jazz have invited six more players to work out Thursday, including Marquette guard Vander Blue, Notre Dame forward Jack Cooley, Arizona forward Solomon Hill, Baylor guard Pierre Jackson, Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe and Georgia Tech guard Glen Rice Jr.

luhm@sltrib.com —

NBA Draft

O June 27, 5 p.m.







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