"When Devin walked on campus (if) I said, ‘OK, this side of the room, anybody that thinks that he has a chance to go into the NBA after his junior year, sit over here. Anybody that doesn't, sit over here.' Now where do you think most people would have been sitting?" Ryan asked during Harris' press conference Wednesday morning.
Well, now that the junior guard has decided to enter his name in the NBA Draft how did Harris go from an afterthought on the national stage to the player everyone is talking about?
"He worked, he listened, he observed," Ryan said. "His notebook is filled with a lot of things from video sessions and his own feelings of on the court: what happened, what did not happen. He has worked extremely hard to be in this position. And part of our society says that this can happen."
Harris graduated from Wauwatosa East High School and came to Wisconsin as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Mr. Basketball. He averaged 25.3 points, 5.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 4.1 steals per game his senior campaign at East.
With those numbers, Harris was ready to jump right into the starting lineup. He started all 32 games during his freshman year and his 34.2 minutes per game led the team. Harris put his name into the Wisconsin history books right away. He set freshman school records for three-point field goals made (59) and attempted (161) and for free throws made (101), free-throw percentage (77 percent) and minutes played (1,094).
Once his sophomore year came around, Harris continued to improve his game. His assist tally dramatically increased from 1.75 in his first year to 3.06 and his rebounding bettered from 3.3 to 4.6 boards a game. In his second season, Harris was usually second the second scoring option to former Badger guard Kirk Penny. Despite not always being the first option on offense, Harris did increase his shooting percentage to 46.3 percent and tallied 12.7 points a game.
Then his junior year rolled around and Harris came full circle. He had established himself as a solid team player during his first two seasons but last year proved that he can steal the show on a regular basis. With Penny out of the picture, the scoring load was placed on Harris' shoulders. He accepted the challenge quite nicely with three 30-plus-point performances and an average of 19.5 points per game.
Even if his scoring load increased, it was evident that Harris also picked up his maturity and leadership on the court this season. He again increased his assist average, this time to 4.41. He also improved his assist-to-turnover ration to 2.14. As a freshman that mark stood at just 1.06. In one four-game stretch in December, Harris tallied 26 assists against just three turnovers.
Though Harris came to Wisconsin beneath the national radar, he is now the player future Badgers will be measured against. If Harris' junior season was his last as a Badger, it is certain that he will continue to contribute as a team player in whatever uniform he puts on next.
"He mentioned (that he may need to be) selfish," Ryan said. "He is not selfish. 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 anybody anywhere in this athletic department. This is something that all of you out there would love to have the opportunity to do."