Celtics connections run deep for Larkin

Celtics connections run deep for Larkin
May 26, 2013, 10:30 am
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WALTHAM, Mass. — As the NBA hopefuls left the Boston Celtics practice floor one by one on Saturday, Shane Larkin remained.

Corner 3-pointers. Free throws. Catch-and-shoot.

This wasn't the NBA rookie-to-be trying to score brownie points with the Boston Celtics coaching staff. This was Larkin doing ... Larkin.

The son of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, he knows a thing or two about putting in extra work and the rewards that come with it. That's why he will be a player the Celtics will have to give some thought to selecting with the No. 16 pick in next month's NBA draft.

While the C's may appear to be set at the point guard position with Rajon Rondo, the job of being his backup is relatively wide open.

Terrence Williams was thought to be the man for the job after a solid finish in the playoffs, but his legal issues in Kent, Wash. have cast some uncertainty as to what, if any, role he will have with the Celtics moving forward.

And that might be just enough for the C's to add another guard to a roster that, despite having a number of perimeter players returning, is still void of a point guard besides Rondo who is returning from a torn ACL suffered this past season. 

And while it's not unusual for a player to have some connections to the team that he's working out for, those ties run extremely deep for the younger Larkin.

Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga, who was involved in Saturday's workouts, is the son of Larkin's coach at the University of Miami, Jim Larranaga.

"I've seen him a lot," said Jay Larranaga. "For me, he showed the things I've watched over the last two years playing for my father. Shane did what he normally does; he's a very athletic, unselfish, tough player. He demonstrated that (on Saturday)."

One of the C's current video coordinators, Brian Bailey, was at the University of Depaul when Larkin had committed to being a Blue Demon.

And then there's his connection with Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.

Larkin, who played his high school ball at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, was quite familiar with Rivers as well as Rivers' son, Austin, who now plays for the New Orleans Pelicans.

"I've known Doc since I was about eight years old," Larkin said. "He's always given me great advice."

Larkin is even more familiar with Austin having played together as AAU teammates and later against Austin in high school which included a pair of state title matchups with both games won by Austin's Winter Park team. After the last state playoff loss in 2011, Larkin remembers the elder Rivers made time to speak to him after the game.

"Keep doing what you're doing," Larkin recalls Rivers telling him. "I'm glad my son beat you, but at the same time you're a great player and you're going to do great things."

He certainly did at Miami, a school known for its football prowess. The Hurricanes finished atop the ACC for the first time in school history this past season, and went into the NCAA tournament as a No. 2-seed before being upset by Marquette, 71-61, in the Sweet 16. Larkin had just 14 points in the game as Miami (29-7) equalled the best NCAA tournament run in school history.

But Larkin's college days are a thing of the past now. His focus now is to prove to NBA teams that he is indeed worthy of being a high selection. Most mock drafts have him going anywhere from the middle to the latter stages of the first round. With the No. 16 pick, there's a decent chance that Larkin will be on the board when it is Boston's selection. 

But at 5-foot-11, Larkin's height is certainly something that NBA GMs will look at as a negative. However, his toughness - both mentally and physically - along with being a better athlete than most expect, are qualities that tend to come out during individual workouts that may not necessarily be as apparent in games he played at Miami.

And while he by no means is considered an above-the-rim player, his 44-inch vertical - tops among players measured at the NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago - is one example of his athleticism. Despite having a Hall of Fame baseball player as a father, Larkin credits his mother Lisa for his off-the-charts vertical leap.

"She was a dancer; do all the leaps and turns," Larkin said.

And in case he didn't know this before, she reminded him after the combine.

"'You know, you got the athleticism from me,''' he recalled her saying. "'Your dad has skinny legs. He can't jump.'"

Larkin added, "they're great. I've been blessed by two athletic parents."

And he hopes to put those athletic gifts on display in the coming weeks for a number of NBA teams, with workouts already scheduled with Milwaukee (May 31), Utah (June 5) and Phoenix (June 6).

Larkin will certainly look to impress at those stops, but added that it would be kind of cool to play for Rivers in Boston.

"I have a good relationship with him," Larkin said. "If there's a chance to play for him in the NBA, that's just like a dream."