LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
Gary Harris is going pro, thanks in part to coach Tom Izzo’s recommendation.
The Michigan State shooting guard is entering the NBA draft, choosing to skip his last two years of college.
“It’s time to follow my dream,” Harris said in a statement released by the school.
Izzo told reporters after the season that he would advise Harris to make the jump to the league if his research led him to believe the native of Fishers, Ind., would be among the top guards drafted in June.
“Not only do I fully support and celebrate Gary’s decision, but after my information gathering process, I recommend it,” Izzo said in a statement. “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.”
Harris averaged a team-high 16.7 points last season, helping his team win 29 games, including the Big Ten tournament championship. He shot 43 percent overall and made 81 of 230 3-point shots. Harris was an Associated Press All-America honorable mention, All-Big Ten and all-conference defensive player.
The 6-foot-4 Harris, who was voted team MVP by his teammates and the media, was among 15 finalists for the Wooden Award last season.
“My two seasons at Michigan State have been an amazing experience,” Harris said. “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.”
He scored 1,025 points in two seasons, becoming the third player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark as a sophomore. The other two were Magic Johnson and Mike Robinson.
Last year, Harris 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. After debating whether to be a one-and-done player, he chose to become a sophomore.
“Just like last season, I had to make a tough decision,” Harris said. “There hasn’t been a single day where I regretted my decision to return for my sophomore season. It was the right decision for me and I’m better prepared for a successful NBA career because of it. On top of that, I have another season of memories from being around this year’s team.”
Michigan State has not announced if Branden Dawson will return as a senior or join Harris in the draft.
Dawson averaged a career-high 11.2 points last season. The 6-foot-6 forward flashed some of his potential, 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.
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