As the first day of practice finished, a freshman Devin Harris asked coach Bo Ryan a simple question: “Do we need to do this hard every day, including practice?”
Following three years of constant effort, continuous maturation, and consistently clutch shooting from his star player, Coach Bo Ryan purchased a new house and appropriately nicknamed his home as The House That Devin Built. Following one of the most productive careers in UW Basketball history, which included 96 games as a starter in just three years and two Big Ten Championships, Bo Ryan felt especially indebted to the captain who affirmed UW’s place among the nation’s basketball powerhouses.
This past Friday, I was in attendance as Bo Ryan, Barry Alvarez, and a host of decorated alumni welcomed in Devin Harris and six other UW athletes and administrators into the Badgers Athletic Hall of Fame.
Following a standing ovation, Harris was posed with a difficult and pointed question: What was your most rewarding moment as a Badger? Harris chose the Badgers’ first Big Ten Championship, that occurred during his freshman year, in a season when UW was expected to finish below .500. Within six months, Harris grew from a novice freshman who questioned Bo Ryan’s expectations, to a star player who defined Bo Ryan’s style of basketball. In a word: gritty. As I’ve wrote about previously, it would be the first of eight times that Bo Ryan’s Badgers would exceed their preseason projections.
Harris would mirror Wisconsin’s incredible success in the professional ranks. He was selected fifth overall in the 2004 NBA draft, has played in over 700 NBA games, was selected to the 2009 all-star team, making him one of the most established UW professional athletes of all time.
Here is Devin Harris’s Hall of Fame inauguration video, that was screened before Harris took questions.
The final question Harris answered was who were the major contributors to his success. The most interesting of the list, and second only behind his family, was a high school athletic trainer who Devin said “instilled his work ethic” that aided his success to this day, similar to how Ryan “instilled persistence.” Though the nod to a high school trainer might have seemed out of place, the recognition perfectly paralleled how UW was recognizing Harris: both are under-appreciated yet integral people who helped enable fifteen years of success.
While we equate the Badger’s immense accomplishments over the past decade primarily with Coach Bo Ryan, we should remember that Hall of Famer Devin Harris was the spark that jolted UW from second tier to premier. Bo Ryan is certainly the architect of the now established Badger’s program, but Harris was the first player to truly construct his game based on Ryan’s design and vision.
To Devin Harris and all of the new inductees into the Badger’s Athletic Hall of Fame, we welcome you into the ranks of greatness!