Zak Irvin prepared to "earn" his time

Incoming freshman Zak Irvin has taken his game to a level that guaranteed himself a role on the Michigan basketball team in 2013-14. With Tim Hardaway Jr. now off to the NBA, the opportunity for even more minutes from Indiana's Mr. Basketball is out there.

Back when Zak Irvin -- Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 2013 -- was just considered a University of Michigan commitment in the class of 2013, the Indianapolis native would make the door-to-door, four-hour hike to the William Davidson Player Development Center to take part in several open gyms with the Michigan basketball team.

One of Irvin’s favorite parts of those experiences was his individual battles with veteran shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. Irvin, eager to prove that even though he was still considered a high school student, he could play with these division one talents. While Hardaway Jr. on the other hand, wanted to flex his muscle a little bit and teach a young guy a lesson, maybe bumping Irvin a little extra as he chased him through screens, anticipating that Irvin could potentially be his backup in the 2013-14 season.

Well, no longer is Irvin considered a signee or commitment in the class of 2013 -- he’s an incoming freshman for the Michigan basketball program. And no longer will Hardaway Jr. be ahead of him in the rotation this fall after declaring for the NBA draft a year early.

“I talked to him a couple days before he made his decision,” Irvin told GoBlueWolverine. “I texted him just to see what he was going to do. At that point he hadn’t really made up his mind so I told him good luck with whatever decision he made. I’m just happy for him. I think he made a good decision.”

Hardaway Jr.’s absence leaves Irvin, along with now sophomores Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert, and even Glenn Robinson III, who will play more at the three spot in year two, as candidates to scoop up the extra minutes on the wing.

After averaging 24.6 points and nine rebounds per game his senior year at Hamilton (Ind.) Southeastern high school, Irvin has no intention of slowing down. Constantly working to become a better all around player, Irvin brings size, athleticism, and an improved ability to not just knock down outside shots, but also get to the rim and finish.

“It would have been nice to play with Tim, he’s a great guy off the court, and I could definitely learn a few things from him,” said Irvin. “But with him leaving it definitely opens up minutes that hopefully I can earn up at Michigan and hopefully fill the role that he had.”

Fortunately for Irvin and the rest of the Wolverines, the roles of Mitch McGary and Robinson III won’t need to be replaced as well after both decided to stick around for at least one more season of college basketball.

That, is music to Irvin’s ears.

“I definitely want to play with Glenn and Mitch and they’re definitely a big reason why I chose Michigan, so I’m glad they decided to stay,” he said. “Hopefully we can get some stuff taken care of next year.”

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