MSU sophomore guard Gary Harris is forgoing his final two seasons and heading to the NBA, according to a release from the MSU athletics department.
ESPN reported late Monday afternoon that Harris was leaving for the NBA.
The announcement came shortly after ESPN's report, with Harris issuing a statement saying that the decision to leave MSU was difficult but is in his best interest.
“The last two years have been the best of my life, but it’s time to follow my dream and declare for the NBA Draft,” Harris said in a statement. “This was not an easy decision; just like last season, I had to make a tough decision. There hasn’t been a single day where I regretted my decision to return for my sophomore season.”
Harris averaged 16.7 points and four rebounds per game this past season, and was selected to the First-Team All-Big Ten. In his freshman season, he averaged 12.9 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Harris considered leaving after his freshman season, but elected to come back for another season in hopes of improving his game and winning a national championship. MSU finished the season 29-9 after losing to UConn in the Elite Eight.
The decision doesn’t come as a shock. It was even recommended by head coach Tom Izzo, as Harris is widely considered a lottery pick in the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft on June 27.
“Not only do I fully support and celebrate Gary’s decision, but after my information-gathering process, I recommend it,” Izzo said. “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.”
Both of Harris’s parents, Joy and Gary Harris Sr., issued a statement supporting their son’s decision and are thankful for of the memories and guidance the basketball program provided for Harris.
“We would like to thank Coach Izzo, his assistants and everyone associated with the Michigan State basketball program for all the support they’ve shown our son over the years,” said Joy and Gary Harris Sr. “That includes the assistance they’ve provided during this process, in which they’ve always looked after Gary’s best interests.”