When looking at Gary Harris' body of work in his two seasons at Michigan State, one word keeps popping up: consistency. The former McDonald's High School All-American was a consistent presence on both sides of the ball for the Spartans from the moment he set foot on the Breslin Center's court.
In 69 career games, Harris failed to score in double figures only ten times, averaging a team-high 16.7 points per game as a sophomore, and leading to honorable mention All-America, first team All-Big Ten, and All-Big Ten Defensive Team selections. Though his time in East Lansing was brief, the former Big Ten Freshman of the Year was a fan favorite for the Spartans, thanks to his hustle and athleticism both scoring the ball and defending it.
Harris' consistency makes choosing a single best moment difficult. The steadiness he displayed for the Spartans from day one is a major reason he is seen as a potential lottery pick on Thursday. So the choice was made to highlight a game in which the full spectrum of Harris' abilities were on display, offensively and defensively.
In a home matchup against in-state rival Michigan in which both teams entered undefeated in Big Ten play, Harris used a variety of methods to impact the game. The Fishers, Indiana native scored a career-high 27 points on 9-16 shooting, including 4-6 from distance, adding five rebounds and three steals while playing stout defense against the conference's leading scorer, Nik Stauskas.
It bears mentioning that, though the Wolverines edged Michigan State in the game, the Spartans were without big men Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson, and Harris carried the load on both ends of the floor. In the Big Ten Championship game nearly two months later, with Michigan State at full strength, the Spartans got revenge against Michigan in a game in which Harris scored 15 points and held Stauskas to 4-14 shooting.
What the January tilt against the Wolverines put on full display was Harris' all-around game, and that's why he finds himself so highly regarded in NBA Draft circles. While defensive development usually lags behind for most young players, the 6'4" shooting guard already plays at a pro level. Coupled with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and to use his athleticism to get to the hole, Harris presents a total package that will make one NBA team extremely happy on Thursday.