Harris will soon learn NBA fate

Badger point guard expected to be selected between the fourth and eighth pick in Thursday's draft

Looking at a short, skinny youngster, Terry Harris did not dream of his sons' future basketball excellence.

"As he progressed into high school, then you start to think that he might have the potential to go to the next level," Terry Harris said. "Only because he had that growth spurt and everything caught up."

Sometime early Thursday evening, Wisconsin guard Devin Harris will officially don a new uniform, formally retiring the cardinal and white he wore as a collegiate star the last three years and making this hoops' dream a reality.

No matter where Harris ends up, the evening will put the finishing touches on a progression that watched Harris grow from a solid prep player to a star, from a dynamic young college basketball player to an excellent all-around guard, one of the best amateurs in the nation.

Harris will be one of 15 prospects attending the draft in New York City Thursday, which begins at 6 p.m. central time. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan will also be there to see Harris trade his basketball threads for a nice suit, prior to strolling across a well-lit stage and accepting his new team's ball cap and jersey.

Who will that team be? It is, of course, anyone's guess, and plenty of people are doing the guessing. Harris has worked out for a number of teams who could call his name Thursday: Atlanta, Washington, Chicago, Phoenix and Philadelphia among them. He worked out twice for the Suns.

The Los Angeles Clippers are reportedly deciding between Harris and prep star Shaun Livingston with the fourth overall selection. Meanwhile, there has been a building crescendo from media in Phoenix and Toronto, hyping Harris as a candidate for the Suns or Raptors.

Toronto picks eighth, after the succession of the Bulls, Clippers, Wizards, Hawks and Suns. So it is widely believed that Harris will not fall below No. 8.

There have been grumblings, though, of Harris slipping of late. The Providence Journal recently graded Harris the No. 5 point guard in the draft. The Boston Globe was a little more kind in a story Wednesday, listing Harris only below Livingston and Connecticut's Ben Gordon.

The Globe, though, ran the following mixed bag as its formal pre-draft analysis: "His high-energy style worked well within the Badgers' system. Celtics honcho Danny Ainge was very impressed by Harris' game during an in-season visit. But his stock has taken a dip over the last three weeks. The thin Harris reportedly lost out during a number of head-to-head workouts against other point guard candidates."

There have been more plaudits than criticism for Harris by and large. The consensus is of a player that is ready to compete and have a solid professional career. Of the criticisms of Harris, size has come up the most leading up to the draft.

"There were questions earlier about point. I think those questions have been answered, so that helped his stock," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. "The idea of strength, he's a little stronger than you think. And strength mentally can mean a lot too."

Should Harris somehow slip below the Raptors at No. 8, Philadelphia, which picks ninth, Cleveland at No. 10, and Seattle at No. 12 would be very interested. In a draft widely considered to have more depth than glamour, the possibility of myriad trades could have a wide ranging impact on where Harris ends up.

"They're not out there sharing their secrets, all the NBA teams, because No. 3 might want this player or 2 and 6 and 8… So you don't know what they're going to do and Devin's not quite sure either, none of us are," Ryan said.

Soon enough, the darts, laurels and speculation will be immaterial. It will brushed aside, a mere prelude to the next chapter in Devin Harris' basketball career.

"It is a great feeling, I'm very happy for him," said Harris' UW teammate Freddie Owens, who is hoping to continue his basketball career in the National Basketball Development League. "We both put in the sweat and tears and worked really hard and to see that it's paying off—it's a great thing. It's where he wanted to be and he's put himself in that position.

"He seems a bit excited. Who wouldn't be excited. You get to live out the dream and make millions doing it. That's a blessing."

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