EVANSTON ― After Michigan’s decisive 67-52 loss to Northwestern last night, a bit of positive news came out of the locker room for the Wolverines.
Pressed by reporters about his intentions, junior guard Manny Harris said after the game that he would return to the team for his senior season. But a post on Harris’s Facebook profile from later in the night casts doubt on the legitimacy of that statement.
“The media is crazy,” Harris wrote in his status. “They force me to talk about stuff then take what they want out of it!!!!”
Harris had been widely expected t0 declare for the NBA Draft at the end of the season, forgoing his last year of eligibility.
“A lot of these guys gotta come back, you know what I’m saying, like myself, gotta come back and play next year,” Harris said.
He said it was important to contribute as a leader on a team that is losing one of its best players in senior DeShawn Sims after this year.
When pressed for more details about when he decided to return or whether the team’s mediocre 11-11 overall record was a contributing factor to his decision, Harris declined to comment, saying only that he was confident that he would come back next season.
Harris leads the Big Ten in overall scoring, averaging 18.7 points through Michigan’s 22 games. But due to the team’s overall troubles, Harris compared this year to his freshman campaign, in which the Wolverines won just 10 games.
“It was definitely disappointing to go through a year like that,” Harris said. “We’ve won one more game right now than we did back then, but it’s still the same feeling right now. I’ve just got to try my best to shake off that feeling by coming in and working hard and making sure the team’s working hard to still get more wins.”
Many experts believe that with the Wolverines’ drop-off after their surprising NCAA Tournament run last season, Harris’s draft stock has plummeted as well.
Some mock drafts have lowered his projections from a potential first-round pick to a second-round selection, while others project him out of the draft altogether.
One of the reasons for this drop has been his inconsistent play.
Last night, Harris scored just 11 points against the Wildcats, well off his average. His poor shooting percentage, particularly for his jump shots and 3-point attempts, has been a concern for NBA scouts.
Yesterday, Harris finished the game just 4-for-14 from the court and 2-for-7 from behind the arc. While his skills as a slasher are unquestioned, the NBA requires a more refined jump shot since defenses are much quicker and the players are more athletic.
While one of the reasons for this season’s disappointing record is a lack of leadership after the loss of C.J. Lee and David Merritt, Harris said that by returning next year he can provide that senior leadership that would be expected of him.
“We’ve only got two real seniors so everybody else on the team has got to come back and keep working hard,” Harris said.