May 18, 2010

Class of 2012 guard steals the show

His smile was clear to see from one end of Cook Hall to the other.

The 6-4 guard from Fishers, Ind. had just stolen the ball and glided down court for a two-handed slam, bringing the small, yet lively crowd to a standing ovation at the Hoosiers' new practice facility.

But a lazy pass was not the only thing Hamilton Southeastern soon-to-be sophomore stole over the weekend's worth of games: Gary Harris stole the show and the spotlight.

For Harris, it was easy to understand why he was smiling during most of his match-ups at the adidas May Classic. After all, his stock has never been higher as he dominated nearly every game for his D3 Heat team. And his stellar play was garnering so many whispers around Bloomington that his final game against the SYF Players was standing room only-10 minutes before tip-off.

So to say the kid had a breakout weekend would be a bit of an understatement. Instead, it is safe to say that the basketball world witnessed Harris burst onto the scene and he has no intentions of sharing the limelight.

"(My recruiting) has exploded here in the last couple of months and it has really taken off since last summer," Harris said. "It was a little bit slow last year and I got hurt in the summer. But I have been healthy lately and it has taken off."

A strong work ethic, especially in the weight room, has put Harris smack in the middle of talks that he's possibly the best player in the state in a loaded Class of 2012. The guard has put on nearly 25 pounds of muscle since last season, upping his weight to around 195 pounds.

"I have gotten stronger since last year," Harris said. "I was real weak last year. I'm not as strong as I want to be, but I am stronger than I was. So I can see the benefits of being in the weight room."

The added weight has allowed Harris to really have his way with defenders, especially with his ability to body-up smaller guards. Perhaps more important, though, is that it has increased his endurance, allowing him to finish games with more energy.

And his energy is something that Indiana head coach Tom Crean loves about Harris' game.

"We always talk about how I can get better," Harris said. "He said he likes my toughness and how I always go hard. He just likes my all-around game."

The scary part about Harris' game, though, is that he is continuing to get better. The guard has been working on his shot, which turned on at times during the weekend. Add in the mid-range jumper he displayed and his already-dangerous driving ability and you have a potential offensive juggernaut that will stump coaches and frustrate defenders.

But the question remains: which coaches will have the difficult game plan of stopping Harris? Better yet, what coach will have the opportunity to continue to mold the young guard?

Those questions are far from being answered, as Harris is in no hurry to make a college decision. Along with Indiana, he holds scholarship offers from about 10 schools, including numerous Big Ten and SEC teams, and is hearing from countless others.

He has also already toured six schools on unofficial visits, including Indiana, Butler, Xavier, Michigan State, Illinois and Vanderbilt. His summer visits schedule him to look at Indiana and Xavier again, along with Ohio State and Michigan.

As far as IU, the Fishers native had nothing bad to say about his home-state school.

"Indiana is a great college," Harris said. "It has a lot of history here. Crean is doing a great job with the program and it's going to take off here in the next couple of years."

But a college decision seems to be the last thing on his mind for the time being.

"I am just taking it slow right now and taking it all in," Harris said. "Starting next basketball season, I am going to take it a little more serious. But I am taking it all in and enjoying it right now."

With all of the positive vibes surrounding Gary Harris, is it any wonder now why his smile is so big?

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