Former Michigan basketball star Manny Harris intent on proving doubters wrong en route to NBA
The chip on Manny Harris' shoulder remains firmly attached.
The former Michigan small forward is aware of the doubters that insist he should have remained in school for his senior year rather than venture into the uncertain waters of the NBA Draft.
Earlier this week, Harris' draft night plans remained up in the air, which seems appropriate seeing how Harris will go into tonight's draft in New York (7 p.m., ESPN) wondering whether he'll hear his name or if his move into professional basketball will continue as a free agent.
Either way, he's ready to make his way.
Harris has worked out for eight to 10 teams, including the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks this week. Like his three years at Michigan, Harris' reviews have been mixed. While some scouts see an upside to his athleticism and his finishing ability at the rim, others question his perimeter shooting and work ethic.
Some draft experts believe Harris' stock has risen enough to make him a mid-to-late second round selection while others still view the 6-foot-4 wing as a project that will have to catch on as an undrafted free agent. ESPN analyst Chad Ford had Harris ranked 44th on his top 100 list of prospects.
Ford believes many teams will view Harris as a diamond-in-the-rough type pick, making him attractive late in the second round.
Harris has taken every team tryout in stride, embracing the opportunity and paying little attention to public opinion.
"I don't think it's pressure at all," Harris said in a phone interview Tuesday. "You've just got to go out there, but the thing is you don't know what the guys watching you is thinking. Maybe if you think you had a great workout, maybe there's something they think you did wrong or maybe you think you had a bad workout and maybe there's something they think you had a great workout.
"The thing is not knowing what they're thinking."
Harris, who averaged 18.1 points and six rebounds as a junior, has at times found criss-crossing the country grueling. He's had to deal with a nagging ankle injury that forced him to miss two workouts.
He has shared the experience with former Michigan teammate DeShawn Sims, who also enters the draft uncertain of his status. The two former roommates talk almost daily by phone.
Their Michigan experience helped establish a bond between the two Detroit natives, who consider themselves to be brothers. Yet, for all the times they've spent as teammates, Harris said preparing for the draft is providing the opening lines of a new chapter.
Harris does so with a me-against-the-world mentality that he's carried since the day he announced he wasn't returning to Michigan for his senior season. Michigan coach John Beilein said last week that he believes Harris made his decision to try professional basketball well before he announced his decision.
"I knew coming in from the moment I left Michigan that people were saying, 'Well, he may not go, he might go undrafted, he might go late,'" Harris said. "It's something I've got to deal with. It's a decision I made - I knew the situation before I got into it.
"I do believe I'm NBA talent, and I believe that strongly and whatever route I have to take, that's what I'm going to do. At the end of the day, it's my job to prove people wrong just to make it to the NBA."