Hardin takes name out of NBA draft

DeVon Hardin wants to be a lottery pick when he leaves for the NBA and, because of that, he has decided to withdraw from the draft and return to Cal for his senior season, Hardin's father said Monday.

The news comes on the heels of a San Francisco Chronicle story Sunday that said Hardin will sign with an agent.

Michael Hardin told ESPN.com on Monday afternoon that "the report was inaccurate. We have pulled his name out." The deadline to withdraw for the June 28 draft was 5 p.m. ET Monday.

"To graduate and play a full season for Cal has always been the
best option," Hardin said in a statement released by the school.
"Nothing but goodness comes from that, including the NBA. We will
have a strong team this year, and my teammates were a big
motivation for me. They are a great group of guys. I'm not ready to

The decision is a huge boon for Cal, which now has one of the top frontcourt tandems in the West with Hardin and Ryan Anderson for the 2007-08 season.

Hardin suffered a stress fracture last season and played in only 11 games. But his stock was soaring through workouts.

Michael Hardin father said DeVon worked out for New Jersey, New York (in the same workout), Houston, Miami, Washington, Philadelphia, Detroit, Golden State and the L.A. Lakers. Hardin said he paid the expenses for the trip, which allows DeVon to retain his eligibility.

"It was a dent, but it's part of it," Michael said. "It's what you have to do."

Hardin said his son's decision came down to wanting to be a lottery pick next season.

"We thought do that rather than rush in it this year," Hardin said. "That was the main decision in spite of the positive feedback."

Hardin said his son was told that he needs to improve defensively in some areas but that "athletically they thought he was off the charts. This is a kid who wants to play. He doesn't want to be put in the D-League. He's got an absolutely great shot at making himself a lottery pick next year."

Hardin immediately becomes one of the premier big men returning to college next season in a Pac-10 Conference that is loaded up front with Stanford sophomore Brook Lopez, UCLA incoming freshman Kevin Love, USC sophomore Taj Gibson and Washington's Jon Brockman.

"I am proud of the way that DeVon handled the process in making
what was obviously a critical decision," Cal coach Ben Braun said.
"He showed a lot of conviction in ultimately choosing to pursue
his Cal degree and compete in his senior year."

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.