Look up and down the Dallas Mavericks roster, and you’ll notice the Mavs have by far more undrafted players than any other team in the NBA. This season Dallas has had a whopping 23 different players on their roster and nine of the team’s current players went undrafted. The Mavericks hit the D-League jackpot with 23-year old sparkplug Yogi Ferrell, but Dallas never stops mining the Development League for talent.
Manny Harris is hoping the same good fortune that happened to Ferrell a few weeks ago will happen to him. The Mavericks reached down to the D-League and signed the scoring guard to a 10-day contact on March 10. Ferrell’s 10-day success with the Mavs certainly caught the attention of the 27-year old Harris, who was playing for the Mavericks D-League affiliate, where he was a key cog in the high-powered Texas Legends offense.
“It’s easy to do that down there, but you got a different role here,” Harris told NY Sports Day. “You know, I have been here before, it’s easy to adjust, still be aggressive and play my game. But at the same time you got to be smart.”
Harris’ average of 26.3 points per game was tops in the D-League and a nice representation of who he is as a player. In 37 games with the Legends, Harris also averaged 7.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.2 steals. He had been widely considered one of the best players at that level before Dallas plucked him from the basketball wilderness. His true value comes from his offensive prowess, but he proved that he’s more than just a scorer.
“I showed I can play defense, that I can also be a playmaker to,” said Harris, who is still trying to get acclimated to his new teammates and the organization. “So them things I continue to work on and it got better throughout the year.”
The Detroit native, who’s real name is Corerryale L’Adorable Harris, has enjoyed success at virtually all levels of basketball. He averaged 17 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists in his three seasons at the University of Michigan. Harris, Jalen Rose and Mike McGee are the only players to attended Michigan and accumulate at least 1,600 points over a three-year period. He has had multiple stints in the NBA, D-League and overseas. He’s also probably had more teammates than any other basketball player over the last few years.
“I played with a lot,” Harris admitted. “I don’t know nobody else journey but I definitely played with a lot.”
Harris went undrafted in 2010 thanks to a hamstring injury suffered shortly before the draft. He signed with the Cavaliers and played in 54 games, contributing 5.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game. During the lockout, Harris suffered a bad freezer burn in a cooling chamber designed to augment recuperation from injuries at the Nike facility in Oregon. He was released before the season began and signed with the Canton Charge, the Cavs D-League affiliate.
A few weeks into the shortened season, the Cavaliers signed Harris to a pair of 10-day contracts before opting not to sign him for the rest of the season. However, the Cavs brought him back soon after and he ended up averaging 6.7 points in 26 appearances. In the summer, Harris was waived and he joined the Rockets for Summer League. In September, Harris signed with BC Azovmash in Ukraine and resurfaced when he latched on with the Magic for 2013 training camp.
After not making the team, Harris returned to the D-League and the Los Angeles D-Fenders acquired his rights in a trade with Canton. With the Lakers enduring injuries to guards Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmer, Harris played through a pair of 10-day deals, averaging 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in nine games. When the Lakers decided not to re-sign him for the rest of the season, the Michigan Mamba rejoined the D-Fenders.
Despite leading the league in scoring at 31.6 points per game, Harris signed with Turk Telekom B.K. of the Turkish Basketball League. In November of 2014, he was once again reacquired by the D-Fenders. But after just a few games, Harris returned to Turkey and signed with NSK Eskisehir Basket. The following October, Harris returned for another go-round with the D-Fenders but was soon traded to the Texas Legends.
Last January, Harris signed with Turk Telekom for a second stint. Then in May, Harris signed in China with the Anhui Wenyi, where he led his team to a league championship and was named the 2016 NBL Player of the Year. In October, Harris was reacquired by the Legends and he established a franchise record by scoring 49 points in the season opener. The Mavericks took notice and have given the explosive guard a chance.
While Harris has been able to thrive in the D-League and around the world, it hasn’t been easy making that next step and finding NBA security. That has been frustrating for the 6-foot-5 swingman, but his time abroad and in the D-League has allowed the former Michigan Wolverine to understand what he has to do in order to survive in the basketball world.
“You got to be tough, people don’t understand, you got to be tough to play in them situations, not just on the court but the environment, being away and it’s so much stuff you go through off the court that just mentally you got to be tough, to just keep fighting and keep going,” said Harris. “I always knew I was tough, but you know that’s just something.”
Over the last few years, there arguably hasn’t been a D-League guard that’s been as consistently solid as Harris. He once poured in a franchise-record 56 points for the D-Fenders, he played in the 2014 All-Star game and he’s earned D-League Performer of the Week honors five times. The question for Harris isn’t whether or not he has a place playing professional basketball, but rather if there is a place for him at the games highest level.
“He has been one of the best two-way players in our league all season,” Legends Head Coach Bob MacKinnon told dleague.nba.com of Harris back in January.
There could be an opportunity for Harris to stick around for the rest of the season if he can impress coach Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks. He’s has only played 25 minutes since being called up, tallying eight points in parts of four games. Since signing his first 10-day deal, he’s recorded DNP—Coach’s Decision stat lines in 4 of the Mavericks nine games, but he knows opportunities like these are chances for him to showcase not only his talents but also maturity.
“Definitely appreciate it more,” Harris says. “You was young when your beginning years of it and them years you kind of wish you can get back so you could seize the day, take everyday as if it’s your last basically. Now I’m aware of that and it’s just a different mind coming in and one thing is I got more mature.”
All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Stats are accurate as of January 10. Email Steven Simineri at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @SSimineri