Gary Harris… What Could Have Been


I want to start by saying I don’t ever post here because I don’t consider myself much of a writer, but do I follow recruiting quite a bit. That being said, I never put too much stock in any possible recruit, especially after recent events. Beyond that, I never assume to know more than anyone else who posts here consistently, and what I say is all my own opinion, so take it as you will. If you don’t like it I apologize, but this is how I feel and I couldn’t help but share my feelings.

If you haven’t already heard (and if you haven’t, you are living under a rock), Gary Harris has committed to Michigan State.  I like to think I follow Purdue basketball recruiting as much as, or more than, the next casual fan, and I just need to vent. And before I get into any of this let me be clear… Gary Harris went about his recruitment as professionally as any young man about to break into the college/national scene as I have ever seen, so I hold nothing against him or his family.

I’ll start by saying six months ago I never thought we had a shot at Gary. We got in on his recruitment late and we didn’t have any scholarships for him (although that doesn’t stop some other programs from over signing by more than they should) so in my mind it was a long shot. That being said, when Coach Painter signed AJ Hammons, it seemed to me Gary Harris was the next piece to the puzzle.  Early on I would have said you give me either AJ or Gary and I’ll be happy, and I really was happy, until tonight.

I watched, listened, and refreshed to see where Gary decided to go, and after waiting until around 8p.m. I finally found out the news that all Boilermaker fans didn’t want to hear… Gary Harris chooses Michigan State.

Again, before recently, I was ok with not getting him, but after sitting in class (yes I have class at 8p.m. at night) and finding out that he chose MSU, I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. What are we doing wrong that we cannot land an instate 5 star recruit? I know we got in on the recruitment late, but this to me hurts more than the Branden Dawson saga. Gary’s parents both went to Purdue, we have a newly renovated Mackey Arena, a complex that is equal to, if not better than the premier basketball arenas in the country, and Matt Painter just signed an 8 year contract to stay in Boilermaker country. If we can’t persuade high caliber recruits to come in with that, then what will bring them in?

Now I know that Coach Izzo has all those Final Fours to sell to high school kids who want to make it big on the next level. His track record of coaching up solid NBA players (although Coach Painter has done reasonably well with that) is fairly extensive as well, but this is becoming a consistent theme for the Purdue basketball program. I constantly see on Purdue message boards, “Purdue doesn’t want those types of players.” While I generally agree with that sentiment, it seems to me, this a bit of a cop out. I think Purdue has to get “those players,” at least every once in a while, to become a perennial big time program. Does that mean go after every 5 star recruit under the sun, or even every one in Indiana… no. But Gary Harris, at least from what I saw and read, was a big time player, yet still one of the rare types that would fit in perfectly at Purdue.

I guess in the end, I write this as a recently wounded fan who has been waiting for that next perfect class to put us over the hump, and I felt Gary would have done that.

Now before everyone gets angry with me, I still think the class we signed today (or maybe yesterday by now) has enormous potential and I welcome every one of them with open arms.  As a student who will soon leave this great university for the real world, I am jealous of what the next few years of basketball will provide for us despite attending games throughout the “baby boiler’s” tenure. I think Matt Painter is one of the best young coaches (and very underrated outside of the Big Ten) in the country and he is doing great things for this program including bringing in players who will eventually carry our team to national prominence.

In the end, I don’t know if Zach, Leroy, or Scott agree with me on this topic at all and in fact I doubt any of them do.  However, after writing this entire post, I have convinced myself that we will win with the talent Coach Painter is bringing in and we will eventually land those big time recruits to propel us to the next level. I only hope for Coach Izzo’s sake that our players don’t take these signings as personally as I do.  Here is to hoping we beat MSU into the ground for the next several years and make Branden Dawson and Gary Harris regret their decisions to ever leave the state!

Boiler Up!