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Mike Harris Named NBA D-League MVP

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Rio Grande Valley's Mike Harris being named the D-League's Most Valuable Player was pretty expected from the outset - he received the most votes in our poll as well - so I'll simply give you the press release after the jump rather than going through the myriad of things he had going for him this season (and there was a lot!).

Before that, though, I'd like to get up on my soapbox for a minute.  I don't want to go all Kanye West on you this afternoon (I'm going to, though I really didn't want to do it), but As Jon L noted last week, Reggie Williams deserved recognition for the D-League MVP award.  While he may not have been the Sioux Falls Skyforce's most valuable player (they played very well both with and without him), I think he was perhaps the most valuable player to the D-League in terms of the recognition he brought due to his stellar play with the Golden State Warriors this season. 

I don't think there will be many seasons where the difference between the most valuable D-League player and the most valuable player to the D-League is going to be different, but this season might be one of those instances - and thus, I propose a sort of Most Valuable Call-Up award - or something along those lines.

All of that said, I don't want to slight Harris in anyway because he was simply stellar in the D-League. 

Still, with Harris being the most valuable player and his Vipers head man Chris Finch being named the D-League Coach of the Year, it seems the pressure is added to the Vipers for their win or go home game tonight against the Austin Toros.

NEW YORK, April 19, 2010 - Mike Harris, who appeared in 34 regular season games with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, has been named the NBA Development League's Most Valuable Player for the 2009-10 season.  Harris, a 6-6 forward from Rice, currently playing with the Vipers on assignment from the Houston Rockets, was selected by a vote of the NBA D-League's 16 head coaches.  NBA D-League President Dan Reed will present Harris with his award prior to tonight's semifinal matchup between the Vipers and the Austin Toros in McAllen, TX.  

Prior to his GATORADE Call-Up to the Houston Rockets on March 24, Harris was leading the NBA D-League and the Vipers with 27.1 points per game, shooting 58 percent (363-of-624) from the field to go with averages of 10.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals in 35.6 minutes.  A three-time GATORADE Call-Up this season, including two separate calls to the Rockets and one to the Washington Wizards, Harris has appeared in13 NBA games this season with Houston and Washington, averaging 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 7.4 minutes.  

"This is a well deserved honor for Mike," said Chris Finch, Vipers head coach.  "There are a lot of good players in this league, but I don't think there's been another as impactful as Mike has been here this season, and that says a lot about the year he's had."

A 2010 NBA D-League All-Star, Harris scored in double figures in all 34 of his games with the Vipers, including 11 games with 30 or more points.  He scored an NBA D-League season-high 48 points, to go with 24 rebounds, in a 126-116 overtime road win over the Dakota Wizards on Jan. 16.  Additionally, Harris recorded 21 double-doubles, including two outings with 20 or more rebounds.  

Twice honored as the NBA D-League Performer of the Week, Harris also earned NBA D-League Player of the Month honors for games played in January.  During that month, he appeared in 11 games for the Vipers, and averaged 27.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 60 percent (116-of-195) from the field and leading Rio Grande Valley to an 11-3 record while scoring in double figures in all 11 games and notched nine double-doubles.  

"A three-time GATORADE Call-Up, Mike has enjoyed a fantastic season for the Vipers this year," said Chris Alpert, Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel for the NBA D-League.  "Not only has he proven that he is a tremendous threat on the offensive end of the floor, but he has worked hard to establish himself as a defensive presence, as well.  His determination and commitment to excellence in his game have been a big part of Rio Grande Valley's success this year, and have established him as one of the top prospects in the NBA.  I congratulate him on a fantastic season and this well deserved honor."  

Harris joins Ansu Sesay (Greenville, 2002), Chicago Bulls guard Devin Brown (Fayetteville, 2003), Tierre Brown (Charleston, 2004), Dallas Mavericks guard Matt Carroll (Roanoke, 2005), Marcus Fizer (Austin, 2006), Randy Livingston (Idaho, 2007), Kasib Powell (Sioux Falls, 2008) and Courtney Sims (Iowa, 2009) as winners of the award.