Larkin makes Hall of Fame father proud
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Shane Larkin was still in grade school when the Cincinnati Reds began grooming him for the big leagues.
The son of a shortstop, Larkin enjoyed hanging out with the Reds at spring training and receiving tutorials on hitting from such experts as Pete Rose and Tony Perez.
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Then one year he returned home to Orlando, Fla., and his Little League coach insisted Larkin’s swing was all wrong.
In frustration, Larkin gave up baseball.
“It kind of crushed me,” says his father, Hall of Famer Barry Larkin. “I laugh about it now, but I’ll tell you, I was bent out of shape about it.”
While dad was mad, the Miami Hurricanes are delighted with Larkin’s decision to focus on basketball.
A sophomore this season, Larkin has blossomed into perhaps the best point guard in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He’s a major reason the Hurricanes are ranked No. 8 and take a 9-0 league record into Saturday’s game against North Carolina.
“Shane Larkin is probably the key to the team,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton says.
Following road victories last week over North Carolina State and Virginia Tech, Larkin was chosen the Oscar Robertson national player of the week and the ACC player of the week.
His season statistics are solid, though not dazzling — 12.8 points, 4.1 assists and 2.3 steals per game, plus 41-percent shooting from 3-point range. But coaches rave about the way he plays defense and runs Miami’s balanced offense.
“I think he’s the best point guard in the league because he makes very few mistakes, he knows his role, he has an unselfish spirit and the ball is safe in his hands,” Hamilton says. “He plays like a coach on the floor. He’ll defer, but you can’t back off of him, and he’s confident enough that when he needs to make things happen, he’s capable of it.”
Larkin contributes in ways big and small. In back-to-back wins over then-No. 1 Duke and Florida State, the 5-foot-10½ guard totaled 19 rebounds. At Virginia Tech, he blocked consecutive shots. Against North Carolina State, he made five steals. And … [For more on Hurricanes' Larkin is making Hall of Fame father proud, click here.]