PROSPECT PROFILE: GARY HARRIS

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by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Beat Writer

PLAYER SUMMARY – With so many college freshman declaring for the Draft, it stands to reason that sophomores are considered to be a bit more polished. Michigan State guard Gary Harris is a perfect example of that – a player who might not have the ridiculous upside but does have a skillset that’s as NBA-ready as anyone at the top of this year’s Draft.

In his two seasons at East Lansing, Gary Harris was one of the most accomplished players in the Big 10. Like most Spartan guards, he’s a physical player – a former high school wideout who hit the weight room hard between his freshman and sophomore seasons at MSU. While Harris has an NBA-frame, he does lack ideal height for a shooting guard at the next level – measuring in around 6-4, 210. Harris has a versatile offensive game and can score from any point on the floor – a lethal catch-and-shoot guy who’s deadly with his feet set, shooting almost 47 percent from beyond the arc in Big Ten play.

Harris’ natural next position at the next level is at the 2, and while he’s considered an excellent transition player, he’s not a fluid ball-handler. He’s good at creating space for himself and has a solid mid-range game, but is physical enough to get around defenders and finish at the rim.

Harris was also one of the top defenders in the Big 10 – instinctive and active – and capable of guarding both backcourt positions. Naturally, he’s well-schooled on that side of the ball with two years under Tom Izzo. Scouts also love his intangibles – Harris is tough, coachable and unselfish, with a tremendous feel for the game.

Harris is considered one of the safer potential first-rounders this June. He’s one of the younger players in his class and doesn’t turn 20 until September. Gary Harris lacks the prototypical measurements for his position, but makes up for it with his offensive versatility and physicality on both ends of the floor.

PLAYER SNAPSHOT

  • Height: 6-4
  • Weight: 205
  • Position: SG
  • College: Michigan State

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PLAYER HIGHLIGHTS – A former Indiana Mr. Basketball and McDonald’s All-American, Harris went on to start 67 of 69 games for Michigan State. He was named the Big 10’s Freshman of the Year, the first Spartan to win it since the award’s inception in 1986. Harris was named the team’s MVP as both a freshman and sophomore. Last year, he was named to the All-Big 10 Defensive Team – finishing fifth in the conference in steals and sixth in scoring. As a sophomore, Harris was an Honorable Mention All-American and Wooden Award finalist who averaged 16.7 points, 4.0 boards and 2.7 assists in 35 games.

PLAYER COMPARISON – Harris doesn’t have the long, lean shooting guard’s frame and isn’t an above-the-rim-type athlete. He’s been compared to guys like O.J. Mayo and his most recent pre-Draft measurements are similar to Dwyane Wade’s.