DALLAS — He’s been told he didn’t have the size to play in the NBA all of his life, and yet he now finds himself ready to seize that opportunity with the Dallas Mavericks.
After a series of draft-night moves landed Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Shane Larkin with the Mavericks last Thursday, the 5-11, 176-pound former Miami standout again found himself in a position to prove his doubters wrong. And that’s exactly what he intends on doing.
“I mean, based on my size coming out of high school, they said I couldn’t play D-I basketball,” Larkin said in a teleconference Monday with members of the Dallas media after starring on the Division-I level.
He added: “I couldn’t play basketball in high school, I definitely couldn’t play in the ACC, I wasn’t going to be successful, all this type of stuff, and I’ve never let any of that make me feel less confident about my abilities and never really let it get to me. I’ve always used that as motivation to be better, so if people are saying now that I can’t be a starter or I can’t be a successful player in the NBA, I’m going to use that as motivation to go out there and play harder and work on my game, so that eventually I can quiet those doubters as well as I’ve quieted everybody else so far.”
To this point, quieting his critics has come easy for Larkin.
As the son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, he’s no stranger to overcoming challenges and proving his critics wrong, stepping out of his dad’s shadow on the diamond to make a name for himself on the hardwood. Now, with hopes of becoming a household name himself, Larkin will try to prove his worth at the next level, looking to compete right away for minutes in Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle’s rotation at the point guard position.
As a skilled sophomore with the Hurricanes, Larkin averaged 14.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 36 games as he earned First Team All-ACC and Second Team All-American honors. He also proved to be one of the top pick-and-roll lead guards in the nation while connecting on 47.9 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from 3-point range. And after a stellar sophomore campaign in which he also received the ACC Tournament MVP, Larkin then made heads turn at the NBA Combine in May while showcasing his athleticism and a 44-inch max vertical leap.
Now, after defying all the odds to this point, the young floor general will try to compete with whomever is on the Mavs’ roster in the backcourt come training camp in late September.
“The ACC is one of the better leagues and we won the ACC Tournament. We won the ACC regular season, so I had a lot of success in college and I left pretty confidently,” he explained. “Going into the NBA, I’m confident in my ability and the coaches have always given me confidence and encouraged me to come in there and play my game, so that’s what I plan on doing here. Hopefully I can play well enough where I can force the coach’s hand to whereas I may get significant minutes or even be a starter as a rookie. I’m just going to keep on working until I’m one of the best players and I’m the best player I can be.
“I’ve just got to get playing time. That’s my goal — to get on the court and produce for my team. Of course you want to be on the All-Rookie Team and Rookie of the Year. I’ve always set high goals for myself, ‘cause I want to reach for the top, so those are things I would like to accomplish, but first I’ve got to get on the court. So I’ve got to go in there in training camp and summer league and at the beginning of the season and prove my worth. That’s really what I’m focused on, just going in and working hard and doing whatever the coach ask of me. Just working hard and trying to earn playing time, that’s my main focus right now.”