One word perfectly depicts what the recruiting picture for Southern High guard
looked like at this time last year.
“Nothing,” Harris said Sunday. “I had some DIII schools call me, stuff like that.”
Despite a senior season in which he averaged 20 points, four assists and four rebounds and earned a reputation as arguably the top player in Anne Arundel County, Harris graduated without a single Division I offer.
Flash forward to present day, and Harris was faced with a much different dilemma: having to choose between scholarship offers from several DI programs. On Sunday, the former Bulldogs star committed to Duquesne over offers from Appalachian State, Hofstra, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris and Wofford.
“It’s a big step up from having DIII schools to now having [Atlantic 10] schools,” Harris said. “It’s amazing.”
Harris’ journey from under-recruited prospect to legitimate mid-major talent started last July when he visited Eastern Mennonite, a DIII school in Harrisonburg, Va. Before heading back to Maryland, Harris checked out Massanutten Military Academy, a prep school in Woodstock, Va., whose basketball coach –
– was a former teammate of Southern coach
. Harris liked what he saw, and along with Bulldogs teammate
, signed up for a post-grad season at Massanutten.
Harris never doubted that he could play Division I ball, but it wasn’t until he arrived at Massanutten that he truly realized that his DI dreams would likely become reality.
“After the first workout, I just knew,” Harris said. “The team looked out for me. Coach Chad said I just needed to play my game and everything will work out.”
Harris, who was fully qualified coming out of high school, was expected to wake up at 6:30 every morning and march with his teammates to breakfast. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound combo guard took four classes per day and had practice twice a day. On the weekends, his team traveled to some of the top prep school tournaments in the country. Harris’ breakout performance came during a January invitational in Pittsburgh.
“I had like 27 in a game against Notre Dame Prep,” Harris said. “After that I had a lot of people calling me, texting me that a whole bunch of scouting places were tweeting about [me]. More people were starting to know about me.”
The Duquesne coaches immediately started recruiting Harris, coming down to Massanutten to check out a couple practices, in addition to seeing a few more games. Harris did his homework on the Dukes and was impressed with what he discovered.
“They get up and down the floor, they like to shoot the 3, and everyone on the team just shares the ball,” Harris said. “They look for the 3-point shot a lot. They have a pretty small team. I can play the 2 there or the 1. It doesn’t really matter in their system.”
For Harris, who averaged 24 points at Massanutten, the fast-paced style of play at Duquesne represented an ideal fit for his skill-set. He’ll join a Dukes squad next fall that finished the 2011-12 season with a 16-15 record.
Harris, whose runner-up school was Hofstra, said he loves the city of Pittsburgh and can’t wait to get started on his college career later this year. There were plenty of frustrating moments during Harris’ recruiting process, but he’s happy to have finally found a program that believes in him.
“I just kept working hard, knowing that someday I would get that call,” Harris said. “I’m a hard worker and I play hard every day. I’m trying to get [Duquesne] back to the NCAA tournament.”