Wolves draft prospect: Gary Harris

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 25, 2014 - 8:26 AM

The Michigan State guard is exactly the kind of two-way player that basketball boss Flip Saunders desires.

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Michigan State guard Gary Harris

Amid the swirl of endless Kevin Love trade rumors, you might have forgotten something: There’s an NBA draft to be held Thursday night, live from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.The Timberwolves, barring a trade that deems otherwise, will select 13th overall in a draft that — rightly or not, we won’t immediately know — has been proclaimed as the deepest in years.

It’s a night that could proceed unexpectedly because of Kansas center and potential top pick Joel Embiid’s broken foot and European prospect Dario Saric’s decision to stay over there for at least the next two years.Wolves President of Basketball Operations and coach Flip Saunders suggests his team needs to be particularly nimble this year, probably both of the unknown and potential Love trade talks.

Depending how the evening unfolds, here’s three potential players — two of whom Saunders knows well because of his Big Ten allegiances and friendship with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo — who could wear a Timberwolves cap Thursday.

Gary Harris

Like every other NBA draft prospect who attended last month’s Chicago combine, Michigan State sophomore guard Gary Harris underwent testing that measured everything, including weight, body fat, hand width and length, wingspan, standing reach and height in both his bare feet and sneakers.

He probably wishes there was a way they could have measured his will.

Harris measured 6-2½ inches without shoes, two inches taller with them — numbers that could cause some concern among NBA scouts who prefer their shooting guards a few inches taller.

“It’s good we don’t play barefoot,” Harris said.

He said that line with almost a grin, but made it clear he wasn’t joking about a detail that potentially could cost him money.

He’s exactly the kind of two-way player — a streaky shooter at one end of the court and relentless defender at the other — that Wolves President of Basketball Operations and coach Flip Saunders seeks to add to his team.

That is, if those missing inches don’t really matter.

“I don’t think it’s funny,” Harris said. “I don’t know what was going on with that. I wouldn’t say my shoes are too big. I don’t think I had two-inch soles in my shoes.”

Harris considered entering the NBA draft after his freshman season at Michigan State a year ago but decided he wasn’t ready. Now, at age 19, he is.

“I thought about it, but being 18 years old I knew I wasn’t ready for it,” he said. “I became more mature on and off the court. I just look at things differently and you know, I was ready to make this decision rather than second-guess myself.”

Now he must convince an NBA team that, with a nearly 6-7 wingspan, he plays bigger than he stands.

“I played against bigger guards in the Big Ten all year and all day, I hold my own,” Harris said. “I know this is a different level and I may not be a typical size for an NBA ‘2’ guard, but I’m going to go out there and compete. It might not look good, but I’m going out there and I’ll compete no matter how tall I am.”

Harris was a star wide receiver at his Indianapolis-area high school as well.

“I love his football background, he brings toughness,” Saunders said. “People say he’s too small, but he has really long arms and he plays big. The other thing is he’s only 19. He’s still really young yet.”

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