Friday, February 10, 2012

All-American Gary Harris ready to lead Spartans

Gary Harris is rated the #1 SG overall  in 2012 by ESPNU
The 2012 Spartan Basketball class is one of Tom Izzo's most heralded.
One 5-star and three 4-star rated prospects make up the 2012 recruiting class. Most recruiting services are ranking this as a top 5 class. Headlined by the top shooting guard in the nation Gary Harris. Harris is joined by fellow ESPN top 100 players, shooting guard Denzel Valentine, forwards Kenny Kaminski and Matt Costello who make up the core four. This class will provide immediate help and depth to a team only losing two seniors and just one starter.

Next year is 'show out' time for All-American Gary Harris (Fishers, IN - Hamilton Southeastern HS) in East Lansing. He is rated by many scouting services as the best shooting guard in the 2012 class. Recently, Harris was selected to play in the 2012 McDonald's All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classic, both games are reserved only for the elite high school prospects in the country. Gary Harris becomes the latest in a long line of talented guards to join the Spartans. He joins a great list of past Spartans shooting guards like Mo Peterson, Steve Smith, Jason Richardson, Shannon Brown and Maurice Ager. Harris is not going to be stepping on any teammates toes either, because all indications are that he's a team guy first.
"All the schools had the same thing but it came down to the school I was most comfortable with. The family atmosphere (at Michigan State) was like no other. The way they treat each other and act and get along -- it's a great feeling." Harris said after he made his decision to attend MSU. "I'll have to come in there, put in the hard work and make sure I'm in a position to be where those guys are. I have a long way to go. I think Izzo can get it out of me."
His play will speak for itself (Gary Harris highlights) giving him instant credibility as one of the leaders of the team. Izzo will expect much from Harris in his first year and there will be plenty of side-line pep talks, but at the same time expect lots of Izzo smiles and fist pumps. Coach Izzo was one of the main reasons he chose Michigan State.
"He comes at me like a father figure," Harris said. "The respect that he has from everyone, his players, the people outside the program; he's a great guy and a guy that you would want to be around."
There was lots of different pressures that came at Harris during the recruiting process. Being an Indianapolis product brought on lots of pressure to play in his home state. Some of his friends and AAU teammates were signing with Indiana University to play for Tom Crean. He also had family connections with Purdue. Not to mention the full court press from Kentucky and John Calipari who were also making a late push to get Harris to come to Lexington. The way Harris carried himself on and off the court during the recruiting process showed lots of maturity. Harris is sure be starting at the two guard spot next fall for Izzo making him a legitimate option on offense. Teaming up with Keith Appling next year could very well become the top back court in the B1G conference and surely one of the best in the nation.

Harris at the NBA Top 100 Camp - 2011

Skill, toughness and leadership are staples of the Michigan State program.
Next year leadership will be a question with the departure of senior forward Draymon Green. Expect other players to pick up next year like Appling, Branden Dawson and Derrick Nix. In addition to improved team play overall, it will be a huge boost when Harris is inserted in to the line up. Getting a polished guard with great leadership skills will fill in the senior leadship void Green leaves behind.

Harris' summer coach Sean Bledsoe in an interview with offered some insight in to what Spartan fans can expect next year.
"Gary will be ready to fight for a starting job from Game one, not seven, eight, nine, or 10 games into the year," said Bledsoe. "I don't think there is anyone in the country in this class that has the basketball IQ that he does at his position. His intelligence is going to help him early. He can also help win games by sheer playmaking. Those are going to be things at Michigan State that count early.

"When you watch their team play in the past, and they have had some tremendous teams, they always have what I call 'grit guys.' Even though these guys are talented, they don't win just because of talent. They win because they out-tough you, they win because they outsmart you, and they are going to out-grit you. That is one of the reasons why I believe Gary will early success at Michigan State. I have told Coach Izzo a number of times that I think Gary is a combination of Shannon Brown and Maurice Ager" 
A lot of hyped freshman have come in to college basketball in recent years and have struggled while take a long time to grasp the college game. Bledsoe believes that Harris possesses the mental toughness necessary to impact the Michigan State program immediately.
"Like I said, it is a different kind of pressure when you are playing in the Big Ten for a Big Ten Championship or you are playing in the Elite Eight for a spot in the Final Four. But I have seen a few kids and one of the things I will tell you about him is that aren't a whole lot of things that phase him in terms of atmosphere, setting, or moment. That, in my mind, is the difference between a very good college basketball player and kid that can definitely have a chance to be special. I think he is one of those kids." 


  1. "By the numbers:

    As of February 10th...Gary Harris is averaging 24.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.6 steals, 3.9 assists and 1.0 blocked shots per game. He is shooting 52 percent from the field, 41.3 percent from the 3-point line (38-for-92) and 78 percent from the free-throw line (103-for-132).

    He’s not only one of the best offensive players in the state, he’s probably the best defensively as shown by his outrageous number of steals. Hamilton Southeastern is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A with a 17-2 record and has played the fourth-toughest schedule in the state. So the numbers he’s posting have come against top competition." - blog

  2. From

    "Gary is without a doubt one of the very best in this class," said NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp Director Tim McCormick. "He is a great athlete, he is immensely talented, and he is a winner. As a matter of fact, he hit the game-winning shot in the championship game at our camp."

    Harris' combination of athleticism and highly-developed game made him a prized recruit with dozens of scholarship offers. Choosing a program like Michigan State, puts Harris in a position to get the most of his God-given ability.

    "It is best for a player with Gary's ability to go somewhere where he is going to challenged to keep working on and getting the most out of his skills," McCormick said. "There are so many players that are not fundamentally sound and there are a lot of college programs that where the Top 20 recruits are just pushed through the system and milked as much as possible because they are only going to be there for a couple of years. I don't think Gary would benefit from being at a program that does that. Michigan State is certainly not one of those programs. Gary is going to get pushed at Michigan State and he will develop into an even more fundamentally sound player than he already is."

  3. "According to the RSCI (Recruiting Services Consensus Index), which averages the rankings several recruiting analysts, Harris is the first consensus Top 25 guard signed by the Spartans since the Class of 2003 when Michigan State signed Shannon Brown (No. 3) and Brandon Cotton (No. 23).

    Other consensus Top 25 guards signed during the Izzo era include Kelvin Torbert (No. 2) in the Class of 2001, Marcus Taylor (No. 5) in the Class of 2000, Jason Richardon (No. 15) in the Class of 1999, and Mateen Cleaves (No. 8), in the Class of 1996." -

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