Even before preparing for his first season for the MSU men’s basketball season, Gary Harris has had plenty of eyes on him.
A highly-recruited player out of Fishers, Ind., Harris was praised by scouts for his ability as a true scorer, his physical strength on the court and his defensive prowess, among other things. And it’s those exact traits which have drawn the spotlight to him in his rookie season.
CBSSports.com college basketaball recruiting blogger Jeff Borzello ranked Harris the No. 12 of the top 30 freshmen heading into the 2012-13 season. Harris is the second-highest ranked freshman player in the Big Ten, just behind Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell, and slightly ahead of Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III (No. 16) and Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker (No. 19).
The top five players on the list include Kentucky’s top-ranked center Nerlens Noel, Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart, UCLA duo forward Shabazz Muhammad and guard Kyle Anderson with UNLV forward Anthony Bennett rounding it out.
At Big Ten men’s basketball media days in Chicago on Thursday, MSU head coach Tom Izzo addressed the talent of his 6-foot-4, 205 pound young guard, citing his superior strength and speed as several of his key attributes.
“Gary Harris and (Denzel) Valentine are athletic, they’re able to take a pounding,” Izzo said in a statement. “I told Harris a couple of days ago, he’s an illegal alien because he plays both ends of the court and that’s something laws a lot of freshmen don’t guard as well and Dawson at the end of the year last year was one of our better defensive players and I think Harris is going to be that off the bat.”
The Spartans host a pair of exhibition games at Breslin Center — Oct. 30 against Northwood (Fla.) and Nov. 2 against St. Cloud State — before opening the regular season at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 9 against Connecticut at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.