With all the speculation of whether DeVon Hardin is going to actually go pro or stay in school (he has 15 days before he can take himself out of the NBA Draft), it’s been pretty hard to gauge Hardin’s thinking. Until now.

This is what Hardin told Inside Bay Area News the other day:

bq. Unless I’m that No.1 pick, Cal is going to be a top option for me. It’s a good option for me. I want to take my team deep into the tournament, maybe to the Final Four, be a lottery pick … I expect great things from this team.

Right. We expect great things also. (Read: No, we don’t). More on that later.

So it looks like Hardin’s going to come back to Cal, because we all know that he’s not going to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

Hardin will visit nine cities and meet with 16 teams in the next two weeks, trying out for scouts and trying to woo them with his great defensive ability and hustle on the offensive side of the ball.

But he wants to take Ben Braun’s Bears deep in the tournament? We know most people here at UC Berkeley are ambitious. They have dreams. They want to be future leaders and all that bullshit. But taking Cal (a team coached by Ben Braun mind you) deep in the tournament is close to impossible as Marshawn Lynch coming back to play for the Bears football team next year.

Sure Ryan Anderson is a poor-man’s Dirk Nowitzki. Sure Ayinde Ubaka is long gone. But reaching the Final Four? Along with being the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, it’s all locked up for Hardin. (Read: Never in a million years).

Earlier: Hardin Really a First Rounder? ESPN Thinks So
Hardin set to woo pros, but figures to stay at Cal [Inside Bay Area]

Yesterday, the sports world saw one of the most boring and dumbest ideas in the history of sports take place: the NBA held its Draft Lottery yesterday, and yes, the Portland Trail Blazers are now on the clock.

Why does this matter? Because now all the major sports news sites are giving us their NBA mock drafts.

There was no doubt that a former Cal athlete was going to be a high-profile pick in the NFL draft last month, but to our surprise, a soon-to-be-maybe former Cal basketball player may also become a high-profile pick. Okay, maybe not too high-profile, but at least he may not waste away in the draft the way Leon Powe did last year.

ESPN.com’s Chad Ford thinks that DeVon Hardin can get picked up in the first round. Really? Why is this so?

bq. The Pistons could really shore up their backcourt here with a young, athletic shooter who got limited opportunity at Ohio State this season. (Ohio State’s Daequan) Cook still needs to work on his handle and his defense, but he’d be an excellent fit coming off the bench in Detroit. A big man like DeVon Hardin is also a possibility here.

Really? DeVon Hardin goes to the Detroit Pistons with pick No. 27 in the first round? Though Ford doesn’t give a reason why he used Hardin’s name instead of so-and-so-big-basketball-player’s-name-here, we’ll offer our reasons.

Well, he does make sense, since he’d be replacing the void Ben Wallace created when he left for Chicago this season. Hardin can be the shot-blocking-menace-with-no-offensive-ability the Pistons desperately need. Wallace never scored points and Hardin won’t have to either. Plus, Hardin fits in with that bland Detroit Pistons style. Plus, Detroit’s a great town! Maybe.

However, SI.com doesn’t even mention Hardin’s name anywhere in their mock. Draftexpress.com also doesn’t name him —and they have a mock for both rounds of the draft.

Earlier: A Few More Reason Why Hardin Should Stay in School Chad Ford’s Mock Draft, Version 1.1: Picks 1-30 [ESPN Insider] (subscription needed)
Chad Ford’s Mock Draft, Version 1.1: Picks 1-30 [7 Online (via ESPN Insider)] (no subscription needed)

“We’ve already said” what we think DeVon Hardin should do concerning this year’s NBA Draft.

If he’s not going to go in the first round, he better stay at Cal. Hardin should stay in school, refine his skills and maybe add some skills offensively next year, and we assure you that he’ll be a first rounder next year.

He’s great defensively, but with the ball on offense, well, let’s just not think about Hardin with the ball just yet.

Beyond the Arc—a college basketball blog on MSNBC.com— “agrees with us” and ranked Hardin as the No. 7 center in this year’s draft. At least he made the top 10.

bq. No. 7: DeVon Hardin
A stress fracture in his right foot ended Hardin’s season in December, which is one of the reasons he’s below (Aaron) Gray. When healthy, he’s a good rebounder and shot blocker and scores off dunks and hustle plays. (Read: bad offensively.) I’m hoping he returns to school to work on his game.

We’re hoping too. As for the question of getting drafted this year, draftexpress.com, another blog devoted to the NBA, “doesn’t even have Hardin on their board” … anywhere. Not even in the second round.

Well, Hardin’s got a month before he has to withdraw his name. The deadline is 10 days before the NBA Draft, which will be held on June 28 this year. Let’s all hope he makes the right choice.

Earlier: “DeVon Goes Pro (Kind of), but Don’t Follow Powe

Before the start of last season, NBA scouts were salivating all over DeVon Hardin’s, we’ll just say, physique.

And why not? He was a dominating post defender when he played alongside Leon Powe last year. The man’s got a humongous wingspan. Add to that his great leaping ability, and he was a shot-blocking menace.

So, Hardin, giving into those pesky scouts, has declared for the NBA draft after missing most of his junior season due to injury.

Good move, we guess, since he didn’t hire an agent and is able to come back for his senior season if the big bucks aren’t waiting for him at the next level.

But Hardin shouldn’t make the same mistake Powe made last year. Or at least get lured into the same mistake. Everyone was talking about how Powe, who also didn’t hire an agent, was going to be a low first-round draft pick.

So instead of coming back, Powe decided to go pro. But instead of being a low first-round pick, guaranteed millions, Powe was a middle second-round pick, languishing on the bench in Boston.

What do we think it takes for Hardin to stay in the draft? He’s got to be a guaranteed top 20 pick. Anything lower than that, get the hell out. Or suffer the same fate Powe did.

Hardin Declares for NBA Draft, Does Not Hire Agent [Daily Cal]