Michigan State lost a key piece on Monday afternoon when sophomore shooting guard Gary Harris opted to enter the 2014 NBA Draft, according to a release from the school.
The 6-foot-4 Harris improved his numbers during his sophomore season in East Lansing, but saw his shooting percentages dip as he became more of a primary offensive option for the Spartans. Harris averaged 16.7 points, four rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game for Michigan State last season but only shot 41 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point range after shooting 45 percent and 41 percent, respectively, last season.
“The last two years have been the best of my life, but it’s time to follow my dream and declare for the NBA Draft,” Harris said in the release. “My two seasons at Michigan State have been an amazing experience. I have a lifetime of memories, including some incredible games in some incredible places, NCAA Tournaments, and cutting down the nets after a Big Ten Tournament Championship. But most important are the friendships I’ve developed with my teammates. These are bonds that will last forever, especially the guys in my class. I can’t imagine a better group of guys to be around.”
Although Harris is a sophomore, he is young for his grade and doesn’t turn 20 years old until September 14th of this year, which is part of the reason he’s listed at No. 14 in Draft Express’ latest mock draft.
“Not only do I fully support and celebrate Gary’s decision, but after my information gathering process, I recommend it,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said in the release. “I expect Gary to be a high pick in the draft, but more importantly, I know that he is well prepared for a long career.”
Michigan State now loses Harris along with senior starters Keith Appling and Adreian Payne. Sophomore guard Denzel Valentine will likely be asked to carry a lot of Harris’ primary minutes at the two, while freshman guard Alvin Ellis also played some spot minutes at off-guard last season for Michigan State.