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Michigan State's Gary Harris will leave Spartans early, enter NBA Draft

Michigan State sophomore Gary Harris will forgo his last two seasons with the Spartans and enter the 2014 NBA Draft.
Michigan State sophomore Gary Harris will forgo his last two seasons with the Spartans and enter the 2014 NBA Draft.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the much-anticipated announcement of star Michigan State sophomore Gary Harris was made: Harris will leave the program and enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-4 star player averaged 16.7 points and four rebounds per game this past season and was quite a force during the regular season, though he slumped at times during the NCAA tournament. The decision comes as no surprise, as even his head coach at MSU in Tom Izzo suggested that the young phenom should enter this year's draft.

"Not only do I fully support and celebrate Gary's decision, but after my information gathering process, I recommend it," Izzo said in a statement released by the school. "I expect Gary to be a high pick in the draft, but more importantly, I know that he is well-prepared for a long career."

Harris entertained the thought last year of leaving Michigan State after his freshman season, though he ultimately ended up returning to the team for his sophomore year. Superstar Adreian Payne and Keith Appling, both now-seniors, also returned alongside Harris for their final seasons and will now enter the draft with Harris.

Losing Harris is bad enough, but the loss of Payne is critical, though nothing could really be done about the senior's time running out with MSU. Appling's presence will be missed, as well, but Izzo clearly has a plan to return to form demonstrated by his encouraging Harris to enter the draft with the departing seniors.

It is no surprise that Harris ultimately made the decision to leave school early, as he is considered one of the top shooting guards available in the June 27 draft and is very likely to be taken within the Top 20 picks, according to sources within the NBA. Izzo has said in the past that if his young players can become a high first-round pick, he's always for their leaving early and making a successful and lucrative NBA career.

"The last two years have been the best of my life, but it's time to follow my dream and declare for the NBA Draft," said Harris in his statement.

You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.