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Michigan State Spartans' Tom Izzo likely to advise star Gary Harris to enter NBA

It's still quite raw concerning the Spartans' Elite Eight loss to Connecticut for many of those involved in the Michigan State basketball program. Over the weekend, MSU head coach Tom Izzo continued to speak to NBA Draft sources about a possible destination for his starting star and soon-to-be junior in Gary Harris and whether or not the young player should leave school early to enter the pros.

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo talks about advising his star player in Gary Harris to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After many discussions, including with Harris himself, Izzo has told media outlets that he's likely going to suggest that Harris leave the program early to make an impact in the 2014 NBA Draft.

"I have my own thoughts on what I think will happen," Izzo said late last week. "As I met with him yesterday; I talked with his dad today about checking in to where his (NBA) status is. What I gather is that his status is still very, very high.

"When it's that high, my advice over the years has been, when you're ready mentally, you should go."

Missing out on the Final Four was a tough blow for Izzo's seniors, who became the first four-year class to not travel to a Final Four under the coach in his 19 years with Michigan State, but seeing Connecticut elevate to the National Championship does present a bit of gratification - If you're going to lose to a team, they may as well possibly be the best team out there.

Concerning Harris' future, though, Chad Ford's latest NBA mock draft has Harris ranked as the No. 11 prospect, making him the highest-rated Big Ten player. At the moment, senior and soon-to-be graduate, Adreian Payne, is predicted to likely go between No. 13 and No. 26 in the draft.

For Harris, much of the issue surrounding leaving has been his deep bond that he's formed with the Spartans and his general enjoyment of the college atmosphere in East Lansing, something that Izzo has noted. But in the end, Harris will have to make a tough decision in the coming weeks that will likely be one made with his head, rather than his heart.

"I think he's torn because of his relationship with the team, with Zel (Valentine) in particular," Izzo said. "Here's a kid who is a good student, likes college.

"Gary will probably make a decision in the next couple weeks. I'm going to try to talk to a lot of people at the Final Four and I'll talk to my friends in the league and I'm telling his dad to do the same thing."

Izzo claims that anytime his players can move on to that next level in the pros and become a success, it's a success for him in the recruiting department, as well as being a success as a mentor.

"If Gary Harris can come out, make money, be solid?" Izzo said. "God, I'm his biggest fan. Helps my program; helps him."

Harris led the Spartans in scoring this season with 16.6 points per game and averaged 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.8 steals. Despite big numbers, Payne stuck around for his senior season and put up some incredible numbers in this year's NCAA tournament, which will no doubt improve his draft stock - something that could also end up happening with Harris should he decide to stay, as well.

"I'm also looking at what I've been looking at all year with him and my leaning thought would be -- he could surprise me like (Adreian Payne) -- but I think he's going to be a very solid pick," Izzo said. "I'd be leaning to advising him that it's time to make the jump."

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