Michigan State's Gary Harris was picked at No. 19 by the Bulls but dealt to the Nuggets along with No. 16 pick Jusuf Nurkic for Doug McDermott. (Kathy Willens / Associated Press)
After spending his two seasons at Michigan State as one of the top players in the Big Ten, Gary Harris understands that he’s going to have to prove himself all over again.
Harris will have a chip on his shoulder as he embarks on his pro career, having dropped to the No. 19 pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft. Harris was selected by the Bulls but was traded to the Nuggets, along with No. 16 pick Jusuf Nurkic for Doug McDermott, who was taken at No. 11.
“You’re just hoping for the best and hoping to go to the right fit. It’s a sigh of relief once you hear your name called and you’re able to walk across that stage. It’s something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life,” Harris said Friday during his introductory press conference in Denver. “I’m just looking to come in and work. I’m trying to do whatever the coaches need me to do and continue to get better and try to help contribute and help this organization win games.”
Harris worked out for the Nuggets but wasn’t sure where he would go, as he was projected in the top 10 picks. But trades and possibly questions about his height — he measured 6-foot-2 to 6-3 in the draft combine — may have factored in his drop.
But as an All-Big Ten performer, he knows playing in one of the top conferences will help prepare him for the rigors of the NBA.
“It helped get me prepared. The Big Ten had a lot of talented guys in there in a physical conference. There’s going to be a level of adjustment because you’re going from college to NBA,” he said.
“It’s a different league, going from college to NBA and playing against different players. Everybody was the best players on their team in college and a league of all these guys is going to be challenging, but I feel like I’m going to get adjusted just like I adjusted to college and I’ll be fine.”
Harris will wear the same No. 14 he wore for the Spartans.