It'd be a boon for Michigan State basketball, in an expected down year next season, if it were to keep one or two of its underclassmen projected to be NBA Draft picks. Sophomore Gary Harris and junior Branden Dawson are players with pro potential and serious options.
Tom Izzo held an end-of-season press conference on Tuesday, and at it he went into the current situation regarding Harris and Dawson's futures. Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press writes Izzo is "leaning toward" telling Harris he should go to the NBA.
Dawson's situation is a little different, as he still isn't considered a first-round pick, according to many in the industry.
If Harris' status is as prominent as he expects, Izzo said he is leaning toward telling him to go — but he also said Harris is "torn" because he loves MSU and his teammates so much. As for Dawson, Izzo said: "I think he's just starting to get there, like (Adreian Payne) last year."
The difference, Izzo said, is that Payne was projected as a fringe first-round pick a year ago. He and Harris both opted to return for this season. Dawson is not projected as a first-round pick, though he likely boosted his stock with a big postseason.
It seems unlikely Harris would return -- but boy would it be huge for MSU if he did. The shooting guard had a chance to leave last season -- and likely would've been a top-20 pick -- before coming back and helping MSU to a 29-9 campaign. Harris is currently projected as high as 10th and as low as 15th in the CBSSports.com's mock drafts.
This year's draft is expected to be the strongest in years, and most definitely stronger than the 2015 crop.
In speaking with sources after MSU's Elite Eight loss on Sunday, the expectation was that Harris would declare. But with a few days to think about it, perhaps he's experiencing some typical nerves and cold feet. The NCAA has an April 15 deadline for players to decide if they will return to school -- that is if they've previously opted to test draft waters but haven't signed an agent. The NBA's early entry deadline is April 27.