Michigan State Spartans guard Gary Harris is foregoing his final two years of eligibility to declare for the 2014 NBA Draft.
This development was confirmed by the Spartans' official athletics website on April 14. The update reads,"Michigan State sophomore guard Gary Harris will forego his final two seasons of college eligibility and enter the 2014 NBA Draft."
Harris is now the fifth Michigan State underclassman under head coach Tom Izzo to declare for the draft. He follows in the footsteps of Shannon Brown (2006, Jr.), Zach Randolph (2001, Fr.), Jason Richardson (2001, So.) and Marcus Taylor (2002, So.), according to MSUSpartans.com.
Harris told Michigan State's official athletics website he will cherish the relationships he established during his two-year stay.
"The last two years have been the best of my life, but it's time to follow my dream and declare for the NBA Draft.
"My two seasons at Michigan State have been an amazing experience. I have a lifetime of memories, including some incredible games in some incredible places, NCAA Tournaments and cutting down the nets after a Big Ten Tournament Championship.
"But most important are the friendships I've developed with my teammates. These are bonds that will last forever, especially the guys in my class.
"I can't imagine a better group of guys to be around."
Harris also said the decision was anything but easy, per MSUSpartans.com.
"This was not an easy decision; just like last season, I had to make a tough decision. There hasn't been a single day where I regretted my decision to return for my sophomore season.
"It was the right decision for me and I'm better prepared for a successful NBA career because of it. On top of that, I have another season of memories from being around this year's team. But now it's time to chase my lifelong dream of playing in the NBA."
Spartans head men's basketball coach Tom Izzo supports Harris' decision and even predicted he will be one of the first picks in the draft.
"I always say you get what you deserve, and no one has worked harder over the last two years to prepare for this moment than Gary Harris.
"He's done everything asked of him and more on the court, in the classroom and in the community. And although we all knew that there would be a decision to make regarding the NBA, his focus was 100 percent on Michigan State and his teammates.
"Not only do I fully support and celebrate Gary's decision, but after my information gathering process, I recommend it. I expect Gary to be a high pick in the draft, but more importantly, I know that he is well-prepared for a long career."
As a prospective Top 10 pick, Harris is in a position to duplicate -- or even surpass -- what Richardson did 13 years ago, when he was chosen fifth overall, according to MLive.com's Kyle Austin.
Should he be taken in the first round, he will be the first Spartan to accomplish that feat since Brown and Maurice Ager in 2006, Austin stresses.
Joe Rexrode of The Detroit Free Press notes Harris' departure means at least three players from last season's Big Ten championship team won't be around anymore.
Harris follows seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling. Three juniors -- Branden Dawson, Russell Byrd and Alex Guana -- still remain questionable for the 2014 NCAA season.
Harris suited up in a total of 69 games for Michigan state, scoring 1,025 points and averaging 14.9. He is just the third Spartans player to score more than 1,000 points in two seasons, joining the ranks of Mike Robinson (1,202 points) and Earvin "Magic" Johnson (1,059 points), per Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News.