INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WXYZ) - Just five days after he powered his team to the Sweet Sixteen, Michigan State freshman Gary Harris was left sitting in front of his locker, nervously wringing one of the sneakers he had just worn during the Spartans loss to Duke.
Struggling to find answers and unable to fully comprehend what he just experienced, Harris seemed dazed, all the confidence of being lauded as the triumphant hometown hero drained from his body.
In plain terms, Duke's Seth Curry lit Harris up. In a game where it seemed baskets weren't falling for anyone, Curry was the exception - and Harris was the man guarding him most of the time.
When asked if he finally felt like a freshman, Harris shrugged, smirked and answered honestly.
"Definintely," said Harris. "He's a great player. He had a great game, did a great job getting open, hit a lot of great shots and he had a phenomenal game."
Curry's string of three pointers were deadly as Michigan State struggled to gain anything offensively. To make matters worse, Harris struggled on the offensive side, playing what Tom Izzo called his worst game of the season.
"I just couldn't allow him to get separation," said Harris. "But Curry did a great job creating separation. You can definitely see how he's a veteran player. He knows a lot of tricks and I kind of fell for a lot of them today."
As Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Harris will assess his NBA draft status and determine if a jump to the pros is in his best interest.
"That's a problem I'm glad to have," said Izzo.
In reality, Harris' performance on the Sweet Sixteen stage may provide the truest assessment of all.
"To be honest with you I haven't even thought about that kind of stuff right now," said Harris. "I can't think about that at all."
Loaded with talent and potential, Harris will continue to grow and develop under the tutelage of the MSU coaching staff. However, the appeal of a big contract and the chance to fulfill a childhood dream is always tempting.
His time will come. He'll only get better. Staying at MSU is the best choice.
The Spartans, with Harris, will once again enter the college basketball season as one of the country's elite programs with a chance to win the national championship.
Meanwhile, he should throw that sneaker away and flush the bad memories of Friday's loss out of his system without ever forgetting what he learned from a wily veteran.