[Left: Patrick Barron; Right: MLive]
Michigan wide receiver Drake Harris may soon become Michigan guard Drake Harris, and this has nothing to do with a massive weight gain. A Scout user spotted Harris posting clips playing basketball on his Snapchat a few days ago, and now The Wolverine's Chris Balas is reporting that Harris plans to suit up for John Beilein:
We've heard Michigan redshirt junior wide receiver Drake Harris will be pursuing basketball now ... yes, at Michigan. Head coach John Beilein will take him in a heartbeat if the football coaches approve (we've heard Harris met with the coach yesterday), and we believe they will (and probably already have).
As a recruit at Grand Rapids Christian, Harris initially committed to Michigan State as a two-sport athlete. Basketball, in fact, was his primary focus until his spectacular junior football season, and the recruiting services regarded him as a composite top-100 basketball recruit before he chose the gridiron—at one point Rivals had him ranked as high as #46 overall in the 2014 class. He earned first-team all-state honors on the hardwood as both a sophomore and junior; he didn't play his senior season because he enrolled early at Michigan. ESPN liked his potential when the evaluated him as a junior despite being the low outlier among his basketball rankings:
Drake is smooth scoring wing who is a solid shooter out to 20 feet. He can score from all over the floor: long range, mid-range and he can get to the rim. He has real good size for a 2 guard at his age. Pretty good defender.
Drake needs more consistency with his effort. He can disappear at times.
Drake is a real up and coming talent in the 2014 class. Drake is a solid athlete and has plenty of upside. When he is assertive he is one of he better scorers in the class. It'll be interesting to see how he progresses.
He certainly asserted himself for most of his junior season, averaged 24.2 points per game and leading Grand Rapids Christian to the Class A state semifinals, where he went out with a bang.
Harris would have two seasons of eligibility remaining on the hardwood; since he began the year with the football program, his scholarship would still count against football for this year, though basketball has an open slot anyway.
While it's obviously difficult to project how a player will fare in a sport he hasn't played competitively for four years, Harris may be able to provide some depth at guard. At 6'4", 188, he's got good size, and we know he doesn't lack athleticism. In addition to providing scoring punch, he was a good passer in high school, to the point that his coach wanted him to be more selfish:
The strength of Harris' game is his ability to attack the basket off the dribble and score or find teammates for high-percentage shots.
"Defenders can't stay in front of him," Majerle said. "That is what gives him so much potential as a point guard. He has good ball skills and he is a great athlete. I also think that he has a great natural feel for the game which is what you want to see from a point guard. He is a good teammate and an unselfish basketball player. Sometimes he is unselfish to a fault."
While he wasn't known as a shooter, he could pour it on at times, and his form looks decent (albeit a bit slow on the release) on film; he also displays good court vision and some flashy passing ability.
Whether Harris plays both sports or moves full-time to baskeball, this shouldn't have a major impact on the football team. He only had eight career receptions before moving this fall to cornerback, where he hasn't seen significant playing time. He'll have to shake off some rust on the hardwood, but at the very least he's an interesting athlete to have at the end of the bench.