It was likely not an easy decision for him to make at the time, but when Michigan State freshman Gary Harris chose MSU over his hometown team of the Hoosiers, he probably didn't foresee a battle brewing such as this. On Sunday, that challenge will be right upon him and his fellow Green and White teammates in droves.
Speaking with reporters Friday night, the McDonald's All-American talked about how different college hoops was compared to his days playing high school basketball back home in Fishers, Indiana. It isn't to say that the young Harris was unprepared for his NCAA career, but rather, that he was certainly taken by surprise just how different it truly was once on the court.
"Definitely much harder to get open than in high school," Harris said, smiling to reporters. "Moving without the ball is a huge part of the college game; you have to do it well, and it's a real skill."
When he left Indiana for East Lansing, Harris also left behind a number of former AAU teammates in Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell and Hanner Mosquera-Perea, all of whom now play for the Hoosiers. Harris hasn't quite matched his career-high 22 points that he scored against Purdue in the games since that match up, but after studying some of the game film of Spartans' 49-47 win over Wisconsin with head coach Tom Izzo, he feels like he knows the change that needs to be made to succeed.
"I could have set my man up better; I wasn't coming off screens tight enough," Harris said. "There were different ways I could have attacked. It goes back to me not being aggressive enough. It starts with doing all the little things that can create space."
Of course, much to Tom Izzo's chagrin, Twitter has once-again reared its ugly head into the situation (when has it NOT?) as Harris prepares to return to his home state and faces a barrage of insults on the social media platform. Luckily, Harris says that unlike his senior captain in Derrick Nix, he doesn't pay much attention to Twitter, adding: "I'm not gonna pay attention to it."
As for Izzo's approach for Harris' game plan come this Sunday? Simple. Don't hesitate to put the ball up when he gets it and watch it sink through the net.
"There's one kid I'm saying, 'Shoot it. Shoot it. Shoot it. Shoot it,' " Izzo said concerning Harris. "And I think he has to."
Tip-off for the game in Indiana is at 1 p.m. on CBS.
You can follow MSU Examiner, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.