Commentary

Gary Harris joins Mr. Basketball race

Candidacy of Michigan State recruit sparked by long-term production

Updated: February 24, 2012, 1:20 PM ET
By Ronnie Flores | ESPNHS.com

The Mr. Basketball USA Tracker updates the progress of the nation's top national player of the year candidates on a weekly basis, but this is the time of year when the panel has a tendency to step back and look at the overall picture.

While the tracker rewards stellar game performances or recent hot streaks, the actual honor is awarded to the player with the strongest overall resume as it relates to team success. It's the reason Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who led St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) to a 105-12 career record in his four varsity seasons while never allowing the Celtics to fall lower than No. 17 in the POWERADE FAB 50, won the award last year over players such as current Kentucky teammate Anthony Davis and Duke star Austin Rivers.

Overall resume is the reason Gary Harris of Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, Ind.) has emerged as a legitimate candidate. He appeared on four ballots, including a third-place vote, to garner 22 points. That tied him for seventh place this week with Marcus Smart of Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas), who has been garnering votes all season long.

"I really like Gary Harris, I don't think there are many two-guards in this class that can match him," said panel member Aran Smith, the president of NBADraft.net. "He's a big-time talent in my opinion."

After a junior season in which Harris averaged 18.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.8 steals per game, he has stepped up his production to nearly 25 points per game for Indiana's top-ranked team. The Michigan State recruit is also averaging 8.5 rebounds, nearly five steals and four assists for the No. 29 team in the FAB 50.

"It's an honor to just be a candidate for possibly being player of the year," Harris said. "I'm just thankful to be recognized with such valuable players.

"I've feel like I've been stepping it up," added Harris, who also starred as a wide receiver for the Hamilton Southeastern football team. "Because of the McDonald's [recognition], a lot of teams have been really trying to disrupt my game, but my team has stepped up, too. We've been having a great season so far and are trying to finish off by winning the state championship."

2011-2012 ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA Tracker Week 7
Rank Prev. Name Pos High School 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Total
1 1 Shabazz Muhammad (10) SF Bishop Gorman 6 2 1 1 0 93
2 2 Kyle Anderson (9) PG St. Anthony 2 3 2 1 1 76
3 3 Jabari Parker (9) SF Simeon 1 2 3 1 1 69
4 4 Nerlens Noel (7) C Tilton 0 1 1 1 3 47
5 6T Julius Randle (5) PF Prestonwood 0 0 0 3 0 31
6 6T Tyler Lewis (4) PG Oak Hill 1 0 0 2 0 28
7T 5 Marcus Smart (4) SF Marcus 0 0 1 0 1 22
7T NR Gary Harris (4) SG Hamilton SE 0 0 1 0 0 22

Others Receiving Votes:
Grant Jerrett (La Verne Lutheran, La Verne, Calif.) 15 pts. (2)
Kris Dunn (New London, New London, Conn.) 14 pts. (2)
Alex Poythress (Northeast, Clarksville, Tenn.) 13 pts. (3)
Perry Ellis (Wichita Heights, Wichita, Kan.) 12 pts. (2)
Katin Reinhardt (Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif.) 8 pts. (1)
Marcus Paige (Linn-Mar, Marion, Iowa) 7 pts. (1)
Tyler Dorsey (Ribet Academy, Los Angeles, Calif.) 6 pts. (1)
Zena Edosomwan (Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood, Calif.) 5 pts. (1)
Amile Jefferson (Friends' Central, Wynnewood, Pa.) 5 pts. (1)
Gabe York (Orange Lutheran, Orange, Calif.) 5 pts. (1)
Jordan Adams (Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 4 pts. (1)
Razhaun Henderson (Bishop Alemany, Mission Hills, Calif.) 4 pts. (1)
Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young, Chicago, Ill.) 4 pts. (1)

About ESPNHS Mr. Basketball Tracker Panel
ESPNHS' panel of 10 experts, which includes five McDonald's All-American selection committee members, casts its vote each week for the top national player of the year candidates. Each panelist lists the top seven candidates regardless of class. The votes are then tabulated on a 10-point scoring system with a first-place vote equaling 10 points, a second-place vote earning nine points and down to four points for a seventh-place vote. The number in parenthesis refers to the numbers of ballots on which a player appeared and previous rankings refers to position in previous tracker.