Izzo: Harris should move on, Dawson should stay

The 2013-14 men’s basketball season just ended three days ago, and you know what that means — the next season has already begun.

Seniors Keith Appling and Adreian Payne won’t be on next year’s roster, and there could be a few more departures this offseason as well.

Two names that are on the top of every MSU fan’s “worry list” are sophomore guard Gary Harris and junior forward Branden Dawson, who could make the jump to the NBA Draft prior to their graduation.

Head coach Tom Izzo told the media he thinks Harris should leave and take his chances with the NBA if his stock is high enough, but noted he thinks Dawson would have a better shot if he sticks around.

“From what I gather, (Harris’) status is still very, very high,” Izzo said. “And when it’s that high, my advice over the years has been if you’re ready mentally, you should go.”

Izzo said he will be talking with agents and NBA general managers in the next week to discuss the outlook on Harris’ potential.

ESPN, CBS Sports and DraftExpress.com all project Harris as a top-15 pick in the NBA Draft, but Izzo said he is more focused on figuring out where he ranks among guards rather than overall players.

Izzo also added he expects Harris to make his decision within the next two weeks.

As for Dawson, Izzo said he views him as he did Payne last season, in the sense that he thinks he can grow a little more before he leaves the Spartans for good.

Dawson ended the season on a high note, averaging 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in the NCAA Tournament.

Despite his initial setback with a broken hand, he all but came through on his promise he would return “stronger than ever,” as he vowed when he addressed the media.

“I think he is just starting to get there,” Izzo said of Dawson. “He reminds me of (Payne) last year to be honest with you ... but I will do some checking on Branden.”

Two players that have the option of leaving next season are Alex Gauna and Russell Byrd.

As two redshirt seniors, they have the option of transferring to a different school without having to sit out a season or quitting the game as opposed to coming back for a fifth year at MSU.

Izzo assured neither player will be “run off” by him or the staff.

Izzo said the decision will be tough for Byrd because he has suffered many injuries throughout his career, and those injuries have hampered the way he used to play.

“Russ has got some big decisions to make,” Izzo said. “Basketball is the most important thing in Russell Byrd’s life, and injuries kind of took that out in the last year.”

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