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Ex-Michigan State players Harris, Payne, and Appling, begin new life in NBA

Adreian Payne talks to reporters after being selected by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Adreian Payne talks to reporters after being selected by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2014 NBA Draft.
(Getty Images/AP Photos)

On Sunday, a few days had past since the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft and emotions had ebbed in that time since. Michigan State's three top former players who had entered the draft had come to terms with their personal outcomes and began to organize their new futures in the NBA.

Former MSU big man, Adreian Payne, who was first selected 15th overall in the first-round had begun to align himself with his new team in the Atlanta Hawks' system. Gary Harris, whose stock fell when he slipped unexpectedly to 19th selected overall in the first-round, had moved on emotionally past the fall and was looking forward to his time with the Denver Nuggets.

As for the former all-around Spartans player in Keith Appling? Well, despite being undrafted on Thursday, the young talent was happy to learn he'd been picked up by the Portland Trailblazers' summer league team in Las Vegas. If all goes well, Appling could see a future for himself in the NBA after all is said and done.

While Appling's situation may not be as ideal as that of his former teammates in Payne or Harris, his agent, Michael Silverman, says he thinks that with Portland's currently aging point guard base, his client has a real chance at seeing some NBA playing time if he can wow his new coaches in the summer league.

“This is an ideal situation for Keith,” Silverman said. “The guys behind (Portland starting point guard Damian Lillard) are older and we think Keith really has a chance to fight for a spot here.”

Harris also found out that he'll have to work for his minutes on the court come this fall when Denver announced they'd signed Arron Affalo this week, who led Orlando in scoring last season with 18.2 per game.

“They have some veterans and I’m definitely open to learn, I’m willing to learn,” Harris said. “I’m trying to become the best player I can be and to come in and have some guys who have been in the league and been through it is definitely pretty good for me.”

Payne might have the best shot at seeing the most playing time in the upcoming NBA season, with his new general manager in Danny Ferry talking about how much he values four-year college players in his system, of which Payne is. Ferry also talked about how he thought Payne could fit in perfectly right now with their current setup.

“I’m very versatile,” Payne said. “I can guard different positions and score different types of ways. ... They get up and down, share the ball, they’re tough and very competitive. So I think I will fit in very well.”

You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at

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