Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Harris to be the ‘Face of Tennessee Basketball’; Jeremy Tyler Quits Israeli Pro Team
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Tobias Harris and the Tennessee men’s basketball team both play critical games on Saturday afternoon.
At 2:15, the 6-foot-9 Harris leads Dix Hills (N.Y.) Half Hollow Hills West (23-1) into a New York State Federation Class AA semifinal against Rochester East (19-4) at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Sometime after 3:30, No. 6 Tennessee faces No. 14 Ohio University (22-14) in a second-round NCAA tournament game in Providence, R.I.
Just a few months from now, Harris and Tennessee will be united and then the multi-skilled forward will become the program’s featured player.
“He is going to be the face of Tennessee basketball for the next several years,” Vols coach Bruce Pearl said early Friday morning after Tennessee edged San Diego State, 62-59, in the first round.
Just this past week, Harris was honored as both “Mr. New York Basketball” and the Gatorade New York Boys Basketball Player of the Year. He is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award to be announced later this month.
“It means a lot and that the hard work is paying off,” Harris wrote in a text message. “I just want to thank my parents and trainers Britton Kelley and Jerry Powell and my teammates and coaches.”
Harris will also play in the McDonald’s All-American Game March 31 in Columbus, Ohio and the Jordan Brand Classic April 17 in New York.
Harris became the story of last summer after transforming his body through a workout program in his hometown. He was one of the top players on the summer AAU circuit and soon became the object of desire virtually every major program in the nation.
“His potential is limitless,” said New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski. ”He’s always had a very high skill level for his size and he has a very sophisticated feel for the game.
“The only thing is he had such a coltish young body, he’s had to grow into his body. He’s done a great job of that working with a personal trainer. He’s made huge strides in terms of his agility and quickness and strength. The consequences of that is that he plays so much harder. I think he’s still growing. He’s 6-8, he may end up 6-10. I really think he can be a terrific player.”
Harris averages 24.7 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game.
“You talk about as good a player as he is, he’s that much better of a person,” Pearl said. “As hard as he works, he works harder than any player in high school basketball. He’s got a wonderful family.”
Pearl and Tennessee won the Harris Sweepstakes over college powerhouses Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisville and Syracuse.
From Bernard King to Ernie Grunfeld, Tennessee has a rich tradition of New York players and Pearl believes Harris can attract other stars to Knoxville.
“He’sgonna have a pied piper effect,” Pearl said. “Other kids are going to want to come to Tennessee to play with a player like Tobias Harris.”
**For more on Tobias and Tyler Harris, check out this video interview.
TYLER QUITS ISRAELI TEAMRead Pete Thamel’s story about Jeremy Tyler’s downfall in Israel after he left the bench in a game a month ago.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.