With the NCAA tournament rapidly approaching, Grantland’s Davy Rothbart spoke with University of Michigan star guard Tim Hardaway Jr. For more about his famous father, Tim Hardaway Sr., Michigan’s chances this year, and the sophomore’s future, visit Grantland.com.
Last year you played on Team USA at the 2011 FIBA Under-19 World Championship, where the team finished fifth. Which teammate from that squad is a great talent who everyone is sleepin’ on?
Everybody knows about Jeremy Lamb [from the University of Connecticut], Patric Young [from the University of Florida], and Joe Jackson [from the University of Memphis], but one guy who really stood out for me was [forward] Doug McDermott from Creighton. He’s an unbelievable talent. He’s a 6-foot-7 power forward who has great hands, can pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop, has great footwork, can handle the ball, can shoot the ball incredibly well. I think he’s one of those sleepers throughout the country that no one really knows about but everybody needs to keep an eye on. You can tell he works hard every day and he’s going to keep getting better and better.
Is there another player from that Under-19 team who we should take notice of?
[North Texas forward] Tony Mitchell is real athletic, 6-foot-9, with a very long wingspan; he can block anybody’s shot from any angle. He brings a defensive presence with his athleticism. He can get rebounds and push the ball on the fast break, and he’ll dunk on you whenever he has the chance to. He’s just an incredible athlete.
Michigan is having one of its best seasons in years. In addition to John Beilein’s coaching and the senior leadership of Stu Douglass and Zack Novak, what explains the Wolverines’ resurgence?
Chemistry. We all get along so well, on and off the court. Me, Trey Burke, Eso Akunne, and Carlton Brundidge, we’re the clowns of the team. We talk smack about each other in a friendly way, and it’s a great way for us to get to know each other, have a laugh, and bond with each other. It’s awesome taking the court with guys you’ve become such close friends with.