Why Gary Harris should go to…

Hamilton Southeastern guard Gary Harris is a hot topic around basketball in Indiana. The 6-6, 200-pound senior is the best uncommitted basketball player in the 2012 class from Indiana. He is the 25th best player in the country according to Rivals.com.

Harris is a freak athlete, who could probably play basketball or football wherever he likes. He holds plenty of offers from schools in each sport. Ultimately, he believes he has the brightest future in basketball so he will continue playing next year in college. Where, nobody is sure at this point.

This next month is crucial for Harris to decide what university and basketball team he likes the best and best fits his game. He has it down to four schools and will visit each of them over the next month.

Harris already visited Purdue on October 1st, he’s at Indiana this weekend and he’s schedule to visit Kentucky on October 22nd, Michigan State November 5th.

He could wind up at any of the four schools so below I highlight what each university has to offer (in alphabetical order).

Indiana
The Hoosiers already have the top-ranked class coming in next year with Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell, Ron Patterson, Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin. They have been down the last three years but have gained recent momentum with Cody Zeller making it “cool again” to remain in state.

Despite the troubled times, Crean set his eyes on Harris from the very beginning. He’s been to his high school football and basketball games in addition to AAU ball in the summer. Harris would immediately make Indiana better and help restore a program to glory…all while doing it with some good friends.

Basketball in Indiana is king and the fans are one of the most loyal groups in the country. IU has the largest student section in the country and each home game there would be 17,000 strong. The Hoosiers also get tremendous television exposure on CBS, ESPN and the Big Ten Network.

The school is beautiful, the females are beautiful and the facilities are exceptional. Cook Hall provides unbelievable access and unique features that very few schools have. Tom Crean is a very active, involved coach and one that could help elevate Harris to the next level.

From the minute he’d walk onto campus, he’d be a total rock star. He’s just another player to UK, MSU and PU. At Indiana, he would be a difference maker, play with and against top talent, and take pride in building the Hoosiers back up.

Kentucky
Coach Calipari and Kentucky is a different element. The top priority of anyone going to Kentucky should be excellent instruction with an eye on the NBA. That’s what Cal does best. Kentucky has an enthusiastic fan base. Despite great talent over the last few years, Coach Cal (wherever he has been) and the Wildcats have not won a national title which is disappointing.

Kentucky is a top-five basketball school in the country right now with the likes of Duke, North Carolina, and Kansas. Each year, some of the best around the country take their talents to Lexington to play for Big Blue Nation. At UK, Harris may not be the best player but he would play with and against some of the best. That could only help with his game. He wouldn’t be expected to carry the team immediately and Calipari would make Harris better. We’ve seen what he’s done with guys in the past, guards especially, and so Gary could expect the same.

It would be challenging for Harris to play down in Kentucky each year but he would be surrounded with top-ranked guys. He may be able to scrimmage against some of Coach Cal’s guys like John Wall and LeBron James who make frequent trips to Lexington.

Many scouts and coaches believes Harris is good enough for the NBA if he gets stronger and improves even more. He’s young for his age which is unbelievable, so time is on his side. Although Calipari recently got into the recruiting chase for Harris, he has made a strong, late push and would be a great coach to improve Harris’ skills.

Michigan State
First thing that comes to mind is Tom Izzo. The long-tenured coach has made Michigan State a basketball powerhouse and a team that’s fun to watch. One note Izzo can throw out to recruits–in their four years at MSU, they will play in a Final Four. Up until now, that has been the case. He is so respected that the Cleveland Cavaliers offered him their head coaching position but he turned it down.

The Spartans get basketball and the Breslin Center is one of the toughest places to play in the country. Harris would be a good fit at MSU and would be seen nationally against top Big Ten talent. They aren’t up-in-arms with basketball like IU or UK for instance so they wouldn’t feel his loss as much. Harris has liked Michigan State for some time and would continue to make the Spartans a winning program.

Purdue
The Boilermakers have won consistently over the last few years and there’s no reason to think that’ll stop. Matt Painter took over for Gene Keady and has done a great job at his alma mater. Purdue has four other talented commits in the 2012 class, all ranked in the Rivals.com top-125.

Purdue has gotten more serious about basketball, giving Painter a better contract and improving their facilities. The newly renovated Mackey Arena is very impressive and a practice facility is still to come. Thanks to a great team last year, Mackey Arena nearly sold-out every home game. The Boilers are still chasing their elusive first NCAA title.

Matt Painter and staff have proven they know how to coach and make players better. They may not necessarily go after the top talent but the guys they get improve and contribute each year. Harris would bring credibility to Purdue and prove that they can land top Indiana recruits. He is also good friends with players in his class headed there and some already on the team. Gary’s mother Joy played at Purdue so there’s some familiarity up there.


Gary Harris will choose one of these universities next month. This will undoubtedly be one of the toughest decisions he has had to make in his life. With Indiana and Purdue, Harris would stay in state and be closer to home.

Crean, Izzo and Painter have all been to a variety of events Harris has participated in for years. They have been on him hard over the last three years or so. Kentucky on the other hand showed some interest earlier this year, but just last month visited him and talked to Harris about his future. At each of the schools, Harris would immediately figure into the rotation and get quality minutes…there’s no question he would make them all better.

This is Harris’ decision and his alone. That is why I presented the argument for each of the four schools, and may the best situation for the young man win.

Either way, we will all enjoy following his career.

15 Responses to Why Gary Harris should go to…
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  2. IUNation
    October 14, 2011 | 10:46 pm

    Gary has been thrilling to watch on the field and court these last four years. I’d love to see him in Bloomington but like you said, I wish the kid the best.

    Al, Indiana ’74

  3. Dan Harban
    October 14, 2011 | 11:14 pm

    Any school is getting a HELL of a talent. I respect how he has handled his recruitment, quiet and with his family. He does come across full of himself like many from the 2014 class already.

    Go Hoosiers!

  4. Jamison
    October 15, 2011 | 2:03 am

    If he wants to be somebody and win a damn championship, IU is the place. History. Tradition. Candy-stripe pants. Loyal fans.
    It’s Indiana.

  5. Mary
    October 15, 2011 | 2:44 am

    John Calipari is exactly what is wrong with college basketball. He has one strategy and that is to use the NBA one year of college rule to his advantage. If the NBA changed that, it would show just how horrible of a leader/coach he really is. Also, UK is one of the worst academic institutions out there. Look at the college rankings. Indiana and Purdue are solid programs and people coming from these schools are respected. If you are good, it doesn’t matter what school you play ball at to get drafted. When it’s all said and done, IU will have the best recruiting class, and UK can kiss their little recruiting streak goodbye. Calapari knows it.

  6. J
    October 15, 2011 | 10:00 am

    Funny and pro IU at the same time! If the kid dreams of sniffing the NC and making it to the NBA he should attend UK.

    Also, Harris would not be just another player at UK. UK fans would treat him like a rock star as well. The walk-ons get rock star treatment.

    Finally, if his dream is to play in the NBA why wait to get there to play against NBA types day in and day out? Go to UK and Harris will know what it takes to compete at that level while getting a quality education at the same time.

    Good luck.

  7. B1G = academics + sports
    October 15, 2011 | 12:38 pm

    IU or Purdue. All the kids that move away regret it. Indiana basketball is life.

    • John Matters
      October 15, 2011 | 2:45 pm

      Completely agree with this comment. Stay in state, he can’t go wrong being a student-athlete at a Big Ten institution.

  8. zugzwang
    October 16, 2011 | 6:45 pm

    IU = great academics
    great atheletes beginning this year, next year, OMG
    beautiful campus
    great coach with INTEGRITY

  9. JRidds
    October 16, 2011 | 8:08 pm

    I’ll push for Michigan State.

    Kentucky seems unlikely, given that Harris doesn’t seem like a sell out.

    Purdue has the odds against them, because it seems that he’s been an IU fan growing up (well, I read this from an Indiana column, so I could be wrong).

    Indiana would seem like a perfect fit, but if I’m Harris I need to see them actually DO something before I commit.

    That leaves Izzo and the Spartans. Harris has been a fan recently, and it’s hard not to be. Izzo is a stand out guy, the Breslin center gets up for the games AS MUCH as any other big time program, and they’ve got the credentials to earn big time recruits like Harris.

  10. SteveNTEXAS
    October 17, 2011 | 10:05 am

    Even from my vantage point in Texas I would admit Indiana University has the best opportunity for him. He would get some of the credit for turning the program around.

    As for Purdue – in many parts of the country people don’t even know in what state they are located. When I asked, more guessed Ohio than Indiana.

    Indiana is the better school ,nicer campus and the only team to bring real glory to its state. TC is a class act as well.

  11. harris fan#1
    October 17, 2011 | 6:22 pm

    gary harris is a reasonable kid, he will be great were ever he plays, all 4 schools have good coaches and will have great players around him, cracking the starting lineup wont be a given at any of these schools, so this young man has a very hard task ahead of him,so he has to follow his heart, witch is in indiana”only a hoosier by the grace of god”

  12. Sean
    October 17, 2011 | 9:39 pm

    Go to Purdue! Painter has proven himself as a coach and Gary will help Purdue win a lot of games. IU and PU are better choices than MSU or KY. This state is all about basketball. Look at all the schools that have had success in the past. From Valpo to Ball State, Indiana State and now Butler……this state rocks for hoops.

  13. Eric
    October 19, 2011 | 3:10 pm

    Indiana and Purdue suck.. he will go to MSU over them.. that is if he wants to win.. when is the last time a Indiana school has won anything? For a state that is all about basketball they sure dont put out many winners

  14. Jamison
    October 23, 2011 | 1:00 am

    Its what have you done for me lately. IU has struggled the last three years but they made it to the title game in ’02, something Purdue has NEVER done. The last two years they have vastly underachieved with so much talent on their roster. They have a nice class coming in next year but it’s not a place for Gary. IU or UK would best suit Harris and his talents. Plus both are crazy environments with two of the largest fan bases in the country.