LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gary Harris may hear Michigan State coach Tom Izzo tell him to go pro.
Izzo insisted that if his research leads him to believe Harris would be among the top guards selected in June, he would probably tell the sophomore to enter the NBA draft.
“I’d be leaning to advising him that it’s time to make the jump,” Izzo said Tuesday.
Izzo met with Harris and the rest of his teammates on Monday, a day after the Spartans were eliminated from the NCAA tournament by Connecticut in the East Regional final.
Izzo plans to talk to NBA executives and agents later this week at the Final Four about Harris and junior Brandon Dawson. He has already heard some favorable feedback about the 6-foot-4 Harris.
“What I gather is that his status is still very, very high,” Izzo said. “When it’s that high, my advice over the years has been when you’re ready mentally, you should go.”
Izzo is encouraging Harris’ parents to also gather projections about when he would be drafted if he leaves school. He expects Harris to make a decision within the next couple weeks.
“I think he’s torn because of his relationship with the team, with (Denzel Valentine) in particular,” Izzo said. “Here’s a kid who is a good student, likes college.”
Harris averaged a team-high 16.7 points, helping his team win 29 games, including the Big Ten tournament final. He shot 43 percent overall and made 81 of 230 3-point shots. The native of Fishers, Ind., was an Associated Press All-America honorable mention and All-Big Ten player. Last season, he became the first player in Michigan State history to be named Big Ten freshman of the year and to be voted MVP by his teammates.
Izzo potentially could lose two underclassmen to the draft.
Dawson averaged a career-high 11.2 points last season. The 6-foot-6 forward flashed some of his potential recently, scoring a career-high 26 points in an NCAA tournament win over Harvard and scoring 24 points in his next game, helping the fourth-seeded Spartans beat top-seeded Virginia in the round of 16. After scoring in double digits for six straight games, Dawson scored just five points in the season-ending loss to the seventh-seeded Huskies.
Michigan State might lose even more depth next season if forward Alex Gauna and guard Russell Byrd decide to play for another school as graduate transfers. Gauna and Byrd combined to average 2.7 points a game last season as redshirt juniors.
“Nobody will be run off,” Izzo said.
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