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Shane Larkin’s athleticism an eye-opener at NBA combine

“I didn’t think teams knew how high I could jump” Miami guard Shane Larksaid. | Randy Belice~Getty Images

“I didn’t think the teams knew how high I could jump,” Miami guard Shane Larkin said. | Randy Belice~Getty Images

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Updated: June 19, 2013 6:13AM

Shane Larkin’s name always will trigger sadness and bitterness among DePaul fans. He broke a lot of hearts when he transferred from DePaul to Miami in August 2011, just before his college basketball career was about to begin.

Larkin was the recruit who was supposed to change everything for coach Oliver Purnell, the blue-chip star who would return DePaul to basketball relevance. Instead, he did that for Miami, leading the Hurricanes to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament this season.

When Larkin returned to Chicago this week to participate in the NBA draft combine, it was his first time back in the city since transferring.

“It’s been cool,” Larkin said. “I was actually on DePaul’s campus the other night getting some shots up and a workout in. I got back together with the guys and relaxed with them. There was no problem when I left. It’s always been cordial. It was like nothing had changed.”

DePaul’s classy behavior toward Larkin will go a long way in basketball circles, but Larkin acknowledges he has heard from disgruntled Blue Demons fans.

“I saw plenty of stuff on Twitter, but that’s how it goes,” Larkin said. “It’s all understandable.”

It’s difficult to question Larkin’s move now that he is on the cusp of becoming a first-round draft pick, but he believes the same might have been possible if he had stuck with the Blue Demons.

“If I would have stayed at DePaul, I would have been successful,” Larkin said. “Just, the move to Miami was a better move for me and it’s put me in the position where I am now, almost accomplishing my dream of playing in the NBA. So it was the right thing.”

Larkin is projected to have first-round talent, especially after his fantastic play in the NCAA tournament. But heading into the combine, he wasn’t considered a lottery pick.

The 5-11 guard tried to change that perception during the two-day gathering at Quest Athletic Center on the West Side. His shot was a bit flat during the skill drills Thursday, but his athletic testing Friday was the talk of the combine.

“I knew I could jump. I knew I was fast,” Larkin said. “I didn’t think the teams knew how high I could jump, how athletic I was or how much I can bench press. So just being able to show that even though I’m a smaller guy, I can play above the rim and I’m strong enough to battle the big guards is a good thing.”

Larkin, the son of Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, proved he was easily the best athlete of the more than 60 players at the event. He finished first in the max vertical jump, first in the three-quarter court sprint and fourth in lane-agility time. His 3.8 percent body fat was the second lowest of all the competitors. Larkin’s 44-inch max vertical jump was the second highest in the history of the combine, trailing only Kenny Gregory’s 45 1/2 in 2001.

“I don’t think anybody expected that, just because no one has seen me jump as high as I can,” Larkin said. “In college, when I got to the basket a lot of times it was just layups so I didn’t have to use that ability. But in the pros I’m going to have to use that and get up quick so I can finish. It’s important for teams to know I have that in my repertoire.”

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