CHICAGO -- Players who competed in the NBA draft combine this past Friday did not speak with all 30 NBA teams. There simply wasn't enough time. So when Gary Harris of Michigan State said the Sixers were one of his first five teams he spoke with, there appeared to be definite interest on the Sixers' part.
The Sixers would be considering him with their second first-round pick, which is from New Orleans, projected at 10 and is top-five protected.
Harris is a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who averaged 16.7 points for the Spartans this past season. He is one of three players in Michigan State history to score over 1,000 points in just two seasons.
A strong and explosive guard, Harris' characteristics would complement Sixers point guard Michael Carter-Williams. The Sixers' brass did not specify how Harris would fit into their pogram, but they kept the conversation going for quite some time.
“They asked me a lot of questions, but I did think it went pretty well,” Harris said. “They just said they have a young nucleus, corner piece group of guys and they have seven draft picks coming up and that they are looking to rebuild.”
What is most encouraging about Harris is that people talk just as much about his tenacity on defense as they do of his offensive game. He is a strong rebounder with long arms and great lateral quickness. And defense is something he takes pride in.
“I am going to compete at both ends of the floor from the jump,” Harris said. “I am going to play hard and do anything I can to help that team win.”
The Spartans lost in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament to the eventual national champion Connecticut Huskies. In his freshman year, Harris made it to the Sweet 16 with Michigan State.
“Teams want to have people who come from winning programs,” Harris said. “I was thankful to be a part of that at Michigan State.”
A big reason Michigan State is a perennial winner is Tom Izzo, who, as Michigan State head coach, has a .715 winning percentage since 1995.
Harris was asked if he thought Izzo would be a good pro coach since his name is often rumored as a candidate when NBA jobs open up.
“I feel like Izzo could coach anywhere,” Harris said. “He can coach in the NBA, college, high school, preschool. He is just the type of guy that is going to have his players ready. I feel like he can coach at any level.”
His answer also said Harris is coachable, another positive attribute to a young player.
In the upcoming draft, Harris is considered to be one of the top two shooting guards selected.