Sports

College: NBA dream can wait for Cal's Hardin

BERKELEY -- DeVon Hardin gave teammate Theo Robertson some Washington Wizards shorts because he's a big Gilbert Arenas fan. Eric Vierneisel also received shorts. For Jordan Wilkes, it was Lakers gear considering his father, Jamaal, played for Los Angeles.

Jerome Randle likes Chauncey Billups and received a Pistons present in his locker. And Ryan Anderson? Well, Hardin just told the talented sophomore he'll get his own NBA gear one day.

Hardin will almost certainly have his own stuff by next season. He put off the pros to play one more college season at Cal, even though he might have been a first-round pick.

"It was a hard decision. In the end, it was being mature and really putting off instant gratification to do what's best for me in the long run," Hardin said. "I was getting a lot of different advice, like, 'Forget college. Go make money.' "

He collected headbands, socks and T-shirts during his summer workouts for the different franchises, and for a while he wore it all around campus. Coach Ben Braun finally said something, and they came up with the idea to share.

His teammates got a kick out of it, and that's when Braun realized just how committed Hardin is to his choice.

"I kind of realized that by me wearing that I was putting myself on a level where it could come off as, 'I'm bigger than Cal,' " Hardin said. "That's definitely not the message I wanted to send to my team. Actions speak louder than words. I repeatedly told these guys, 'I'm back. I'm here for y'all. Let's do this.' But I was walking around with shorts with the Sixers on them. Since then, I don't wear anything that doesn't say Cal."

The Golden Bears are thrilled to have Hardin back. He's their best interior defender, and when teamed with Anderson, Cal will have one of the top front lines in a talent-filled Pac-10 Conference this season.

Hardin still has plenty to prove, too. Some NBA scouts were high on him before his injury-shortened junior season, and now Hardin is in the best shape of his career and ready to show he's healthy and prepared to take his game to the next level.

He told his teammates he would be there for them all season.

"It was cool he gave guys his stuff," Robertson said. "We had a meeting, and he basically let us know that he's not thinking about the NBA. His time will come. It was a great thing for him to do."

The 6-foot-11-inch, 250-pound Hardin played 11 games last season before sustaining a stress fracture in his left foot against Furman on Dec. 19. He has averaged 6.6 points and 6.0 rebounds during his career and is fifth on the Bears' career blocked shots list.

No. 8 INDIANA 99, CHATTANOOGA 79, at Bloomington, Ind. -- Highly touted Indiana guard Eric Gordan set his first school record by scoring 33 points in his college debut.

No. 10 MARQUETTE 66, UTAH VALLEY 55, at Milwaukee -- Dominic James scored 13 points, including the 1,000th of his career, and Marquette shook off a halftime deficit to beat Utah Valley.

TIP-INS -- Kansas sophomore guard Sherron Collins, the fourth-ranked Jayhawks' leading scorer in their first two games, will be out at least six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot. ... Arizona interim coach Kevin O'Neill said Lute Olson will be "back shortly" from his leave of absence. No date has been set for Olson's return. He left the program Nov. 4, citing undisclosed personal reasons.

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