MADISON, Wis.—In front of family, friends, coaches, teammates, local media and several representatives from national media outlets, UW junior guard Devin Harris let his emotions tell the story during a press conference Wednesday morning, as he entered his name in the 2004 NBA draft, but refrained from hiring an agent.
Beginning with his opening statements, during which he chose to read from a piece of paper that carried some of his notes and feelings regarding the difficult thought process he went through these past few weeks, it was hard not to see the compassion and honesty that Harris evoked with every word in every sentence.
"Excuse me, I'm just going to read what I have on my little piece of paper here," Harris said. "So I hope you don't think it's not genuine or anything, but it's just some thoughts that I have written down."
It was a side of Harris that many do not see or know of him. It was a side of him that reminded everyone that he was still a kid at heart and reluctant to let go of the things near and dear to him at Wisconsin. It was a side of Harris that reminded people that he is still a student and still a growing man filled with a plethora of emotions.
"I love this place," Harris said. "It's pulling on me. It still is. It's halfway, 50-50. This still gives me an option to come back. It's definitely a big hook and it's definitely one of the reasons why I am not signed with an agent right now—to give me the option to come back, because I know we could do some great things back here. But then again, I've got to kind of be selfish and look at what my situation is and see if this opportunity that I have is worth taking it."
Visibly choked up at times and teary-eyed at moments, Harris conveyed a genuine side of him known only by his closest of relatives, friends and basketball family, including Badger head coach Bo Ryan, who he asked to be present at the press conference. When asked to comment about his star point guard's situation, Ryan immediately addressed the idea of Harris being selfish.
"There is one thing I will say, though. He mentioned selfish. He is not selfish," Ryan said. "That's a feeling that he has maybe of what other people might perceive his inquiring to be. He needs to do that, that is not a problem with anyone anywhere in this athletic department."
With his mother in the front row, Harris spoke straight from the heart, explaining the personal struggles he had to endure in making this initial decision. Whether he officially decides to leave UW or not, the 20-minute conference showed Harris is just like any other college student out there with different emotions emerging every moment. He showed that as much as he wants to prosper himself, he only hopes to please others on the way.
"I've got a million emotions going through me right now," Harris said. "It's sad, it's happy, it's relieved, it's scared—I could go through all the emotions in the book. I guess the most of it right now is just kind of relieved that I finally made a statement but scared to know what the future holds."