Harris leans toward returning to Badgers

Updated: April 9, 2004, 9:28 PM ET
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- Devin Harris, the Big Ten player of the year, said he's leaning toward staying at Wisconsin for his senior season but will leave if he's a projected lottery pick in the NBA draft.

Harris said he should know better where he stands after the upcoming Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational Tournament.

"I'm leaning toward coming back right now," he said Friday. "But it could change within the next two weeks. ... Hopefully it will just come to me in my sleep sometime."

Actually, he said the biggest factor is his decision is how high he figures to get drafted.

"If I'm not looked at high enough in the draft then there's no point in me coming out early," he said. "I wouldn't want to miss out on my senior year for something lower" than a lottery pick.

He said he's hearing all kinds of predictions.

"It's all over the place, it could be anywhere, so right now I'm just leaning toward my comfort level, which is back to Madison," he said.

Harris scored a school-record 624 points last season and averaged 19.5. If he stays in school, the Badgers would have a loaded lineup next year and might be able to make a run at the Final Four.

"I think we'll do even better than we've done in the past," Harris said. So that will weigh in his decision, too.

But money won't, he said.

"It's going to be there whether it's this year or next year," he said, adding that he's taken out an insurance policy in case he gets hurt.

May 10 is the deadline to declare for the NBA draft, although Harris could still leave the door open for a return to the Badgers as long as he doesn't sign with an agent.

He could participate in the NBA's pre-draft camp in Chicago to get a better feel for his standing in the scouts' eyes. That's what Jameer Nelson did before returning to St. Joseph's for his senior year.

Harris, who grew up in Wauwatosa a few miles from the old County Stadium, which has been replaced by Miller Park, was one of four guests who threw out ceremonial first pitches at the Milwaukee Brewers' home opener Friday.

He threw a strike but said the experience was more nerve-racking than sinking the winning free throw with less than a second left for the Big Ten title as he did two years ago.

"I think so, there was a lot more people watching," he said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press