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Sunday, October 26, 2014


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Izzo weighs in on 2014 NBA Draft




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Sophomore guard Gary Harris talks to head coach Tom Izzo on March 28, 2014, during the game against Virginia at Madison Square Garden in New York City during the NCAA tournament. The Spartans won, 61-59. Julia Nagy/The State News



But there are cases where he believes a player is ready for the limelight sooner rather than later.

The 2014 NBA Draft, which will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, will air live on ESPN Thursday night at 7 p.m.

It could be a historic night for the MSU basketball program as former MSU guard Gary Harris and former MSU forward Adreian Payne could become lottery picks, which would be the first time two MSU players are drafted in the top-14.

Former MSU guard Keith Appling is also in the mix. He's a late second round pick on some mock drafts, including those of CBS Sports analysts Gary Parrish and Matt Moore.

Izzo sees Payne, who averaged 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and .423 percent shooting from beyond the arc during his senior season, as a player who benefited from four years of college.

Some believed Payne would crack during the first round after his breakout junior campaign, but Izzo wasn’t convinced. Being 23 years of age, which is considered old for the draft in NBA circles, hasn’t kept Payne out of the lottery in certain mock drafts.

“I had agents saying he should stay (at MSU), and that’s almost un-American,” Izzo said Wednesday during a meeting with sports writers and editors at the Michigan High School Athletic Association office in East Lansing. “He is a much, much, much better player. It doesn’t mean he’ll go higher. People say he would have been a first round pick last year. How do you know? He’s is so much better, with a degree and more ready now than he would have been.”

On the other hand, Harris is a near-consensus lottery pick after two years of college, and Izzo said he supports his decision to declare early.

Harris averaged 16.7 points, four rebounds and 1.8 steals per game last season.

“Whenever I talk to a player about leaving early, I say, ‘do you want to get drafted in the first round or do you want to have a career in the NBA?’” he said. “I think both of those guys are going in the first round for sure.”

Despite mock drafts pegging Harris anywhere from No. 9 to No. 17 and Payne from the high teens to mid 20s according to the MSU head coach, Izzo said he only has a faint idea of where the former MSU stars could go.

“I have no idea. I’ve called a lot of teams, a lot of teams have called me,” Izzo said. “It really heats up this week, believe it or not. I say because of the social media, even (general managers) and coaches and owners are playing everything so close to the vest. In my mind it wasn’t like this five or 10 years ago.”


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