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May 9, 2008

Hardin one of many interesting draft stories

MORE: Draft Diary: DeVon Hardin

Once upon a time they were just kids.

They weren't yet stooping to get through doorways or hitting jumpers from everywhere. They weren't yet identified as future millionaires.

But they already possessed the type of talent and desire that would allow them eventually to realize their dreams.

As part of its NBA Draft coverage, Rivals.com has ventured to find the stories behind the stories. We have talked to the high school coaches of potential draft picks to ask where these players came from and what separated them from the rest of the crop.

This year we're doing something a little different and confining our looks back to lesser-known prospects, mostly seniors.

These are the players who for the most part waited on stardom. They weren't anointed coming out of high school like Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose. But they're here now, hoping to join the freshman phenoms in the first round of the upcoming NBA Draft.

High school: Newark Memorial, Newark, Calif. Coach: Craig Ashmore

When is the first time you remember thinking this guy had the potential to play professionally someday?

I don't think we envisioned that in high school. Maybe we thought about it in his senior year because he had a growth spurt and his body filled out. He's young in terms of his development of basketball. He had hopes, you knew he was a scholarship kid, but I don't know about the NBA at that point. Probably in his senior year it was a little bit of a thought.

What game sticks out the most in your memory when you look back on his high school career?

He had one really nice one where he had a triple-double: 25 points, 25 rebounds, 20 blocks. During the game it wasn't that magnified. He had about 8 blocks a game. Averaged about 14-15 rebounds. Some nights in the 20s. We had a couple of other really good players who did most of the scoring. He only averaged about 12 points per game. That's not the way most people get triple-doubles. Not 20 blocks. He's an awesome kid. I have a son who's a sixth-grader now. He played a lot of video games with my son. He was great with little kids. He's a really good person.

How often do you keep in touch with him?

We talk probably about once a week. He's getting ready for the draft in D.C., so I haven't seen him as much. Cal-Berkeley is not that far from here. He came by right before he left. He'd usually visit once or twice a week.

When do you think he will get drafted?

I don't know. I'm lucky to have some insider information. A roommate of mine from college is an assistant with the Raptors.

DeVon's senior year was not what he wanted it to be. I know he has hopes for late first round and I hope it happens. He would like to have pushed his stock up. There are a lot of good players coming out. Five years from now he could be awesome. His growth spurt I think he's hitting on about 30 percent about what he's gonna be. They'll work on his skills. He's got a chance to develop into something special.

MORE: Draft Diary: DeVon Hardin

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.

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