With all of the talent in the world, Gary Harris has been a blessing for the Michigan State Spartans this season. He has led the Spartans to a second-place tie in the Big Ten and a 24-7 regular season record, along with Keith Appling and Adreian Payne.
Harris is the team’s second leading scorer and one of the most dynamic players on the team. He can score in bunches and do it in a variety of ways: he can drive, he can make mid-range jumpers and he is lethal from the three-point line.
Oh, and one more thing–he’s one of the conference’s top defenders and probably the second or third best defender on the team. As the team’s second-leading scorer, and possibly the most talented player, the true freshman wing man has been projected by some experts as a lottery pick, even a possible top-10 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
He would be smart to leave after one year in Tom Izzo‘s system, right? Wrong.
Although Izzo is one of the best coaches in the country at preparing his players for the next level, Harris is far from ready to join the ranks of the best basketball players in the world.
Sure, he’s got unlimited potential and with a Big Ten Freshman of the Year award under his belt, he’s a semi-proven and reliable player, but he doesn’t have the experience to excel at the next level.
At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, he has solid size, but with a bit more bulk, he could be a star in the NBA. One more year of college at least would provide just that. Izzo is also known for transforming raw bodies into NBA-type specimens. A few recent examples would include Draymond Green, Payne and Derrick Nix. Although Payne and Nix are still in college, the work that has been done to improve their bodies has been remarkable.
Another issue that I find a bit concerning is Harris’ mode of scoring. Yes, he can put up points with the best of them, but the way he does it is almost too quiet. He scores in bunches, but there are times where he can finish a game with 15 points and you barely even notice him scoring.
While many people may find that to be a good thing, it’s not often you see a quiet scorer excel at the next level. It’s usually the obvious best player on the floor, but sometimes he fades into the flow of the game and gets forgotten.
While Harris will be a solid pro whenever he decides to leave, the young talent would be wise to stay for at least the 2013-14 season. And hey, a national title would be possible, if not likely, if he returns next season with the Spartans losing just one player.