The college basketball season has finally reached its climactic conclusion and the Connecticut Huskies are going home on top of the world.
UConn may be the team that has earned the honor of a spotlight for my first look at college basketball’s top stars, but the Atlanta Hawks likely aren’t on the list of suitors for star guard Shabazz Napier, and we are still a year or two away before we can take a look at one of my favorite college big men in Amida Brimah.
With that in mind, we shift attention to one of the teams that fell short to the Huskies: Michigan State and their star shooting guard Gary Harris.
Listed at 6’5″ and 210 pounds, Gary Harris is considered the top shooting guard prospect in this year’s draft. He has yet to make a final decision on whether he will declare or not, but the general prediction is for the 19-year-old to declare in the next week or so.
Harris is only a week out from the end to his sophomore campaign for Michigan State after they fell to the now champion UConn Huskies in the Elite Eight. Harris was a major piece in Michigan State’s run in this year’s tournament and has been high on most draft boards the entire season.
The shooting guard finished his sophomore season averaging 17.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 2.3 steals per game in Big Ten Conference play. His strong season lead him to finish 4th is steals and 6th in field goal percentage among Big Ten players. His shooting numbers did take a small decline in comparison to his freshman season, 42.3% from the field compared to 46.9% and 38.8% from three compared to 47.2% in conference play. However, he still has been one of the best all-around players in college basketball season, as he finished 6th in PER and 3rd in Win Shares in the Big Ten.
Harris is currently occupying the 15th spot in DraftExpress’ 2014 mock draft, where the Hawks will be selecting in the draft if they hold onto the 8th seed in these final few weeks of the regular-season. His draft stock has been around the middle of the first round all season, but with the lack of options at the 2-guard for lottery teams, Harris is a candidate for an earlier selection if any team goes for need over best player available.
Nik Stauskas of Michigan will be Harris’ main competition for a late lottery selection, assuming he declares, and P.J. Hairston will also be considered in the middle to late teens of the first round.
Harris is one of the best offensive prospects in the draft, and a highly proficient scorer on the perimeter. He possess an above average driving ability with an average athleticism and success attacking the basket will be vital to his production on the perimeter. Harris may be one of the smarter players in the draft and he uses it to his advantage by showing the ability to make the right decisions offensively, whether its off ball looking for the open shot or as the primary ball handler looking for his open teammate.
Harris is also known to be a great defender, with a high number of steals and a proficient ability of stopping players as they attack the basket. His attitude toward the game will also draw attention from a lot of teams as his selfless attitude and high effort play will make him a highly sought after teammate. He is still a little undersized for the shooting guard position in the NBA, and he’ll need to continue to work on his ability to attack the basket as well as shoot from inside the three point arc. One of his biggest weaknesses on offense will be pulling up from mid-range in pick and roll situations. In the NBA, he will need to continue to work on ways to produce on both ends of the floor against more athletic players.
Gary Harris may be one of the better fits for the Hawks in the first round and grabbing him at the 15th pick may end up being a steal in the draft. Harris will fit right into Atlanta’s need for a scoring wing player. He has the potential to take a starting role within the first few years of his NBA career, and a duo of Harris and Korver sharing the court at times could be one of the more lethal scoring threats in the league.
The 2014 free agency class will feature a few options for the Hawks on the wing, but Harris’ fit may push the Hawks to take a chance on the young player over any guards in free agency. Harris would likely push the Hawks to use Kyle at small forward more often to share minutes with DeMarre Carroll, and Lou Williams may still be in the equation for minutes as well. Harris would solve a lot of depth issues the Hawks have endured on the wings this season and could allow the team to focus on a frontcourt option in the second round of the draft.
Overall, Gary should officially declare sometime in the next week, and may be high on the Hawks’ draft board as the draft approaches. It may be only a matter of time before we see another Indianapolis native debut for the Atlanta Hawks.
For more on the Hawks’ draft situation, check out my look at the latest 2014 mock drafts and any of my other draft profiles.