After weeks of speculation, University of Wisconsin point guard Devin Harris announced Wednesday that he will enter his name into the NBA draft, but not retain an agent.
By not hiring an agent, Harris leaves an option open to return to the Badgers if he withdraws his name before June 17.
“I just wanted to put it out there,” said Harris of his decision. “I probably will get five more weeks of questions, but that’s OK. I just felt compelled to let everybody know what the deal was. I’ve been waiting so long, and I need a little bit more time to figure out what’s going on.”
As a junior this season, Harris scored a school-record 624 points and earned a consensus selection as Big Ten Player of the Year.
He said entering his name in the draft was a difficult decision and he would use these next few weeks to see where he stands in the eyes of NBA scouts.
“I feel this is necessary in order to get a true feeling of where I stand in this draft, and it still leaves me with the option of coming back to Wisconsin,” Harris said. “We’re looking at draft status right now and where I’m projected at, and I’ve just got to decide if I can improve on that or if it is time for me to leave.”
This season, Harris and the Badgers completed the school’s first undefeated home campaign since 1929-30 and extended their winning streak at the Kohl Center to 28 games.
The team loses just three players to graduation and is projected to contend for UW’s third Big Ten title in four seasons.
The possibility of being a part of this feat and/or any other accomplishments made by next year’s team serve as a draw for Harris to return.
“It’s definitely a big hook, and it’s definitely one of the reasons why I am not signed with an agent right now,” Harris said. “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.”
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan offered guidance to Harris while he was making his decision, and Harris said he’s been grateful for his support.
“Coach (Ryan) was a super trooper about it,” Harris said. “He wasn’t the type of coach to call every day and bug me about it. We talked a couple of times when he was in town. We sat down and we discussed what was important, and he pretty much just left it up to me. I thank him for that. He’s been great about it and hopefully we can sit down and talk about it a little bit more. As far as right now, he’s just been really great sitting down and being there for me when I need him.”
While Coach Ryan has offered his support, he says he hasn’t tried to steer Harris in one direction or another during his decision-making process.
“He’s a young man faced with a decision that is so rare in our society for that age and experience level that for me to try to be overbearing one way or another just doesn’t work,” Coach Ryan said. “In the long run, he’s the one that lives it, and that’s the most important thing. He’s an intelligent young man who will definitely do the right thing.”
Harris said he made his decision to enter the draft at about 4 a.m. Wednesday morning and didn’t fall asleep until around 6:15 a.m.
“It was a tough decision,” Harris said. “With the way I have it now, I still have the best of both worlds and can hopefully nail it down a little bit more within the next month.”
A new phase in the Badger point guard’s decision-making process will now begin, and with it so too will a new phase of emotions, according to Harris.
“I’ve got many 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 relieved that I finally made a statement but scared to know what the future holds.”
The 2004 NBA draft will be held June 24. Harris can withdraw his name as late as June 17 and still return to UW.