ATLANTA — The Final Four hasn’t even started, and there’s already talk of players looking ahead to greener pastures.
Darren Heitner, a sports and entertainment attorney and a contributor to Forbes.com, posted Thursday on his Twitter account that Michigan point guard Trey Burke will turn pro and leave Michigan for the NBA after this weekend’s Final Four at the Georgia Dome. Citing an unnamed source, Heitner said Burke will interview five agents in regards to his professional career.
Heitner also said there is a “very strong chance” Tim Hardaway, Jr., signs with Henry Thomas, an agent with CAA Sports who represents Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and center Chris Bosh, and who represented Hardaway’s father, a 13-year NBA player.
However, Heitner posted later Thursday afternoon that Tim Hardaway, Sr., said his son has not decided to leave Michigan early, and Hardaway denied any intent that his son would sign with Thomas. Burke’s mother, Ronda, also refuted reports via her Twitter account.
Calls to CAA Sports’ Chicago office were not returned to The Blade.
College players have until April 28 to declare for this year’s NBA draft. Underclassmen have until April 16 to remove their names from NBA draft eligibility; otherwise a player forfeits his remaining eligibility.
Burke, an All-American sophomore guard, is rated as a lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft by Sports Illustrated. He averages 18.8 points, has 253 assists this season, and has a 3-point shooting percentage of 38.1. He was named the Associated Press player of the year and won the Bob Cousy Award on Thursday as the nation’s top point guard.
Hardaway, a junior guard, averages 14.6 points and 4.6 rebounds, and has 84 assists.
Neither Burke nor Hardaway were available for comment, and Michigan coach John Beilein declined to comment on the report when asked about it Thursday by reporters during the Final Four coaches availability.
Burke said last month on The Dan Patrick Show that winning a national title would cement his decision to leave Michigan for the NBA.
“Because that’s really today’s culture,” Burke said. “If you get that far as a team, you have those opportunities, you definitely have to look into them and make sure you’re making the right decision."
EMMERT SPEAKS: NCAA president Mark Emmert addressed the media and discussed several issues confronting the organization — investigations into the Miami football program and a reported investigation into Syracuse’s athletic program, and lawsuits against the organization — as well as a USA Today story earlier this week that exposed some of Emmert’s shortcomings in leadership at the University of Connecticut and Montana State.
“If anybody wants to go back and look at the objective facts of where an institution was when I got there and where it was when I left in terms of its academic performance, the performance of its students, the quality of its students, the standing of the institution, be my guest,” Emmert said.
“I’m proud of that record.”