If you're a Wahoo fan reading this, you already know and love Joe Harris. For his leadership, and willingness to take a step back on offense for the sake of the team. For his sweet 3-point jumper. For his underrated athleticism and versatility. For his inspired defense. Or for his good looks. Tonight, we find out if NBA GMs, coaches, and scouts will feel the same way.
While 33 Hoos have been drafted all-time, just 3 were picked since the year 2000: Roger Mason, Jr., Sean Singletary, and Mike Scott. Will Harris join their ranks?
Since the end of the season, Harris's draft stock has soared. Though it seemed as if Harris's statistically "down" senior season and physical limitations would keep him from the draft, he's impressed in pre-draft workouts. While the second round of the draft is somewhat of a crapshoot, Harris has a decent shot at hearing his name called at some point tonight.
Mock drafts have caught on too, with the majority predicting that Harris will be drafted in the mid-second round:
Draft Express: 36th Pick, Milwaukee Bucks
ESPN -Chad Ford ($): 38th Pick, Detroit Pistons
NBA.com - 42nd Pick, Houston Rockets
CBS Sports - Gary Parrish: 53rd Pick, Minnesota Timberwolves (2 other CBSSports experts have him undrafted)
NBADraft.net - 54th Pick, Philadephia 76ers
The Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons, and Minnesota Timberwolves have been floated often as possible destinations. He's has worked out for multiple teams since the end of the college season, including reports that his performance "highly impressed" the Milwaukee brass. He took his final pre-draft workouts with Detroit on Tuesday and Minnesota yesterday.
What will Harris bring to the table in the pros?
The most obvious factor is his pure 3-point shooting; if Harris lasts in the NBA, it will be as an outside shooter. When teams have said they came away impressed with his workouts, it was likely because he can straight-out shoot the ball, and showed NBA range often at UVA. Per Draft Express, he made 16 of 25 "NBA spot-up 3-pointers" at the combine. He made 41% of his 3-point shots over his college career, and posted an eFG% as high as 56.2% his second year.
His size, speed, and athleticism are all short of an elite NBA level, and that may hold him back. However, Harris does an excellent job of working with what he has. He's not big for an NBA player...but he's strong, and his quick release will allow him to get shots off. He's not quick...but comes off screens and moves without the ball extremely well. And he's not a poster of NBA athleticism...but is a tough defender and is probably a bit underrated in that category. His strength also helped make up for what he lacks in the other categories in college. Again, that strength won't be as impressive in the NBA, but he'll hold his own in that category.
Chad Ford, ESPN's draft expert, offered the following report:
Harris was considered a potential first-round pick after his junior season. He decided to return, and it hurt his draft stock a little. Across the board, his numbers dipped this year. But Harris is still an intriguing prospect. He's an amazing shooter, has good strength for his position and might be the best defender of the lot. I could see a team taking a chance on him in the late first round. The shooting ability alone might warrant it.
One final note: let's not overstate the importance of a second-round pick. We'd all LOVE to see Harris get picked; but if he doesn't, he'll have the freedom to sign with any team, and could have as good a shot at making it that way. If he does get drafted, there are no guarantees either - he could bounce around for a year or two and find his way out the door, and to big money in Europe. Either way, we'll be watching to see if and when Harris goes, and following his career down the line. Go get 'em, Joe!
Here's Harris's pre-draft workout and interview from Draft Express: