Michigan guard Manny Harris leaving for the NBA
He called it a dream, and playing professional basketball was part of the first discussion Manny Harris and Michigan coach John Beilein had when the junior stepped on campus three years ago.
Leaving early to turn pro was also part of the last chat the two had with Harris as an official part of the Michigan basketball program.
The junior guard, who has led Michigan in scoring all three of his years in Ann Arbor, decided to pass up a fourth. Harris declared for the NBA Draft on Monday and announced he will eventually hire an agent, which officially ended his amateur status.
“I just feel the time is now for me to leave,” Harris said. “To come back next year, yeah, we could make the tournament and all that kind of stuff. But me, personally, I’m ready for that challenge.
“It’s been a dream of mine and I’m ready for that challenge.”
(Click here for links to audio footage of the press conference).
Harris contemplated leaving after his sophomore year. That his closest friend at Michigan, DeShawn Sims, is out of eligibility and also leaving likely pushed that along, too.
Harris averaged 17 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists during his three-year career. He was picked to be on this season’s preseason All-Big Ten team.
A disappointing season for Michigan and Harris followed. The Wolverines plummeted to a 15-17 record and Harris, while averaging 18.1 points a game, struggled with a lingering hamstring injury and was also suspended for a game after a practice incident the day before the Purdue game.
Yet Harris always displayed the ability to dominate games if he wanted to, including making two clutch shots against Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. His fadeaway with 2.2 seconds left looked like it might give the Wolverines an upset.
But Ohio State junior Evan Turner,Â a player Harris was compared to before the season, made a 37-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to end Harris’ season and college career.
“That’s another thing that made the decision very difficult,” Harris said. “I’m a player that likes to win and to leave on the note I’m leaving on is very hard to do. But at the end of the day you’ve got to make the decision.”
Harris said he spoke with his high school coach, AAU coach, Beilein and his family before making his decision. He also spoke with Sims, who was at his press conference.
The two - linked since the day Harris arrived at Michigan - will go through this process together again. Harris and Sims, for now, said they will remain in Ann Arbor to work out and prepare for the two-round June 24 draft.
“It’s like recruiting all over again,” Sims said. “The decisions you make could be critical. But I’m advising him as much as I can.”
Beilein also doesn’t have a strong history of placing players in the NBA. Just one current NBA player - Joe Alexander - spent the majority of his career under Beilein. And Alexander flourished as a junior after Bob Huggins replaced Beilein in Morgantown. And he has had just two players he coached for the majority of their careers drafted in the current two-round format - Alexander and former West Virginia forward Kevin Pittsnogle.
Pittsnogle was picked in the second round by Boston but waived before the start of his rookie season.
Harris is projected as a second round pick by mock draft sites Draft Express and NBADraft.net. At 6-foot-5, Harris likely projects to play off-guard or small forward professionally.
Where Harris ends up going, though, is up for debate. Harris said he’s willing to go anywhere to make his final goal happen, to reach the NBA, including Europe or the D-League.
“If that came up and I have to do it, definitely, because I love playing basketball,” Harris said. “Whatever route I have to take to get there, that’s my final destination, to be in the NBA.
“Whatever route it is.”
Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at email@example.com or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.
Tue, Mar 30, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.
He probably is not ready for the NBA but I believe he will receive better training in Europe to achieve that objective than he would playing another year at UofM. Quit hating on him for wanting to pursue his dream, he'll make more money next year than any of you haters.
Tue, Mar 30, 2010 : 7:44 a.m.
I think this is a bad decision. I do not feel he is remotely ready for the next level. He is a suspected ball handler, cannot driible to his left, does not have great elevation on his shot, and is really undersized. In the NBA you have to create your own shot. Manny couldn't even do that in college (remember that last MSU game when he could not shake his defender). I'm sad to say that this may not be a good decision. What was he 3rd team All Big Ten?
Tue, Mar 30, 2010 : 6:56 a.m.
Manny was a great player and we'll miss him, but the irony is this team could be better without him. A large part of what makes success is chemistry, and this team didn't have it with Manny. We could actually see better results with a less talented player who offers consistent leadership. Save this post you doubting fools. Beilein will be Big Ten coach of the year next year.
Tue, Mar 30, 2010 : 1:36 a.m.
It's a tough issue. I was disappointed in how he reacted to adversity this season, but he hurt himself far more than he hurt Michigan fans. The odds are against him ever making it big in the NBA, but I don't see another year at Michigan helping him all that much unless he is serious about wanting an education.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 10:51 p.m.
Oh my god, the NBA is such a joke! Manny, why oh why did you sell out? Get paid millions of dollars to play boring basketball.... please! I say stick around and play for the glory that only lives in college sports.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 7:35 p.m.
I think a critical point in the article above is that Beilen has a poor track record for developing players for the pros. He has a "system" and that is what he is committed to. Udoh recognized it, transferred and look where he's at this year. Harris owes Beilen nothing. Beilen and his family will be well taken care of and Manny needs to look out for himself and his family. I hope nothing but success for him at the next level and he will have it because he has the ability and will get the coaching he needs.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 3:57 p.m.
Good luck in whatever foreign country, you're playing in next year. Turkey? maybe.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 3:25 p.m.
Manny has been fun to watch. He has moments of great talent and skill. This year he has not been consistent. I think his departure is a big mistake for him. He definitely needs more time to mature. Does he believe next year will not be good for Michigan and now is time to go? How it could be much worse than now? If Manny stayed he could become a senior leader and gain maturity needed to be successful at the next level. Sadly I think Manny will not do that well in the draft. Yet, I still wish him success.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 3:13 p.m.
"Harris said hes willing to go anywhere to make his final goal happen, to reach the NBA, including Europe or the D-League." Fair enough a2roots. I'm not familair with him so i didn't know what his draft prospetcs were. I agree if you're going to go through the d leagues or europe it might make sesne to play one more year at Michigan. With their horrible, horrible coach maybe he's thinking he could learn more in Europe or something? Maybe he hates school...who knows.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 3:04 p.m.
@lokal...There is no guarantee of millions in Manny's future at this point of his development. Why wish failure on him? Stay, mature, develop a more complete game. The money will still be there and an insurance policy can help protect against any career ending injury.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 2:55 p.m.
"Someone close to him needs to wake up and talk some sense into him." Hey kid, come out now and you can make a couple million garunteed. Stay and you could blow out your knee, turn an ankle etc... That's sound advice.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.
I sure hope he comes to his senses and realizes he is not ready for the NBA. He is a good kid but has a clouded vision. Someone close to him needs to wake up and talk some sense into him. If he fails to listen then sorry to say he will be relegated to the CBA or some other no-nothing league. Without the degree from UM any other professional success will be limited as well.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 1:19 p.m.
It's scary when about 2/3 of your scoring isn't returning. But I have it on good authority that Coach B. is going to propose a rule change that will eliminate the shot clock in college baswetball. That way, Michigan can win the tip and play for the last shot.. No, wait - you need a really tall guy to win the tip, so there goes that idea.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.
I don't see how anyone can blame a kid for leaving college to take a job in any sport. It's a lot easier on this B-ball team becasue listening to the local sprts peole they seem agreed that next year will be even worse. The kid went to college to get a job, he's got a good chance to get one, so he took it. How can you blame him?
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 11:46 a.m.
Good luck to him. I always enjoyed watching him and thought he could do better. But you can't say no to the $ and the dreams he's had for a long time. I hope he puts finishing his degree high on his priority list and sets a fine example for others. I'll be pulling for you Manny in the NBA.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 11:39 a.m.
Smart man, next year will be joke! Hows that coaching thing working out for you. All in for WEST ARBOR.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.
I'm disappointed Manny won't be staying for his senior year, but I wish him luck in the future. Go Blue!
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.
Manny didn't quit. He could have been like Udoh and transferred out. He came back this season to play with sims. Sims is gone so manny kept his word. I was surprised he didn't leave last year when his stock was much higher. The pro scouts in the summer loved him, so there's a chance manny can make it to the league and stick, the rest will be up to him. Though I think the bigger story is that this could be seen as an indictment on good players view of Beilein's system.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.
I was hoping Manny would stay for the sake of the team but you can't argue with his desire to make the big bucks, although he might not get drafted as highly as he thinks. In my opinion, he would've been better off waiting another year and increasing his stock for the following year's draft but he would be also risking injury, which might be his concern. He might be earning euros over in France or Spain this time next year. By the way, I thought Udoh played great for Baylor yesterday, but even that wasn't enough to beat Duke.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.
@treetowncartel... I watched Udoh yesterday and was astounded that Beilein could not fit him into his system. I hope Beilein has a super-recruit in his back pocket that will be on the team next year.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 11:09 a.m.
It's sad to say the least... remembering Drew Henson from way back, saying they will stay, then... it's not the end of the world, but not crazy about the example it sets for a youth... ever see the excitement of those 10-12 year olds at the game watching Manny - hey, I wanna be just like..........! 10-12 year olds - 78........ Manny the Quiter, Henson the Muppet - 0
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 11:03 a.m.
Manny came here when many others did not want to. He actually regressed this year in my opinion, so I guess he figures he has no more growing to do in a Michigan Uni. Good luck Manny, I hope you grow into a fine NBA player.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 10:44 a.m.
Hey, what do you all think of Udoh's performance?
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 10:33 a.m.
Nothing like leaving on top!
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.
That will leave room in the rafters for the numbers of future stars that DO finsh what they were paid to do (via scholarships). We need senior leadership. Deshawn did not offer it this year. I thought maybe Manny could next. Guess I was wrong.
Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 10:02 a.m.
Good luck Manny, you had a good college career. I hope you do not get drafted by the Knicks and play in that dump Madison Square Garden.