A mystery

I see that ESPN.com’s Chad Ford now has Cal center DeVon Hardin projected to go late in the first round to Detroit in his latest mock draft. I’d be surprised if that actually happens. Actually, not so much surprised but in disagreement with it.

Hardin clearly has the combination of size, strength and athleticism that NBA scouts drool over, but his game still needs a lot of work. A lot of NBA teams don’t worry about that — they believe as long a a player has the measurables and potential, they can turn him into a legitimate pro. But as athletically gifted as Hardin is, he is yet to demonstrate any consistency on the collegiate level. If I were an NBA general manager, I’d like to at least see Hardin show he can consistently score, stay out of foul trouble and make good decisions throughout one full college season.

I think Hardin will get it, eventually. He’s an incredibly bright kid off the court. So far, that hasn’t translated to a high basketball IQ or good feel for the game. Assuming he returns to Cal for his senior season, he should be able to excel with all the help he will get inside from Ryan Anderson, Jordan Wilkes and Jamaal Boykin. A strong showing next season and he could legitimately be a lottery pick in 2008.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • Dan

    When do we find out if Hardin stays in the draft or if he’s coming back to school. Is it true that if you get drafted in the 2nd round or undrafted, you can still come back for your last year of eligibility if you didn’t sign with an agent?

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Dan, Hardin must withdraw his name by June 18, ten days before the draft, to retain his eligibility. If he doesn’t withdraw and gets picked in the second round or goes undrafted, he still can not return to school.

    He’ll likely go through several workouts with NBA teams and get as much feedback as possible. My guess is that if he feels confident he’ll be a first-round pick, he’ll keep his name in the draft. But he also might consider how much he can improve his stock with another year of college. Even if he was projected to go near the end of the first round, I think there’s a chance he could come back to Cal if he believes he can move into the lottery next year.