Age: 23 //
Occupation: Professional Basketball Player //
Major at GC: Community Health
Where are you from?
Why did you come to Georgia College?
I didn’t start off at Georgia College, I transferred from Mars Hill. When I wanted to transfer for basketball reasons, I picked Georgia College because it had a perfect balance of basketball and academics. When I was on my visit I had a good gut feeling that Georgia College was the right place. From the surroundings, to the small town, it reminded me a lot of home – I figured it would be the perfect fit for me.
Any favorite memories from your time here?
A lot. That’s hard to pick from. I really had a good time. Basketball, of course.
I would say the entire 2015-2016 year was a favorite moment. I was living in the moment. I had the best year in basketball, career-wise, and found myself personally.
That whole year was a great moment.
During your time at GC you were the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year (2015-16 season), and you set some records. Can you tell me more about that?
At the end of the year they give out awards for the conference. I was fortunate enough to win Peach Belt Player of the Year, which was a goal of mine before the season even began. Coming into that year, I was not on any previous all-conference teams, so I wanted to go out of my senior year with a bang. I was lucky to have some teammates that put me in a position to win Peach Belt Player of the Year.
Within that entire year, on a quest to win Peach Belt Player of the Year, I was fortunate and healthy enough to break many records at Georgia College, such as scoring records.
I was very, very blessed. I’m glad I stayed healthy through it all. I played a lot of minutes.
I believe I have the single season scoring record in Georgia College history and Peach Belt history. I have tied the highest point total for a single game in GC history, the most 20-point games and highest scoring average in GC history, second overall in the Peach Belt. I had a pretty good senior year.
My favorite one is probably breaking the all-time scoring record during the NCAA era in three years. That was pretty special to me – to do it in three years rather than four like a lot of guys had.
(Harris finished with 1,229 career points, first in the NCAA era of basketball at Georgia College.)
How did you get on a professional team in Germany?
My senior year, around November, I was starting to get contacted by different agents of professional basketball. For NCAA rules, you can’t contact agents back, so I let my coaches handle that. As soon as the season was over, I knew that I was going to sign with an agent. I got invited to an All-Star game out in Texas, and everyone out there was being chased by agents, so it was a process of choosing an agent. Once that process kicked off, it was easy because I chose the agent I felt very comfortable with. A former teammate had this agent when he played professional basketball. I made the right choice. He was able to land me a job in Germany my first year. I don’t think I could have been put in a better spot than that. I’m very blessed and lucky, again.
That’s how that process works: they’re reading about you, they’re hearing about you. It’s like recruiting all over again.
What’s it like living in Germany?
When I first got off the plane, it was a huge adjustment. It was the summertime when we landed, and it was already low-60s. It was August and it was the low 60s. It was an adjustment at first, but once I caught on to the style of living, the culture, the way they do things – it was a little different form America, not that big of a difference. Once I caught on, it was easy. My teammates and the organization I played with, they made the adjustment very easy for me.
Once again, I was lucky.
The other players on your team, are they mostly German?
The league I play in, you’re allowed three Americans. Everyone else has to be German. I was one of three Americans on my team.
What is the language barrier like for you?
It was tough. The reason I say it was tough, it was tough for me to learn the language because so many people spoke English. It was natural to them. Trying to learn the language, I was offered classes, but at that time I wanted to make sure I was focused on basketball. Everyone spoke English, so it kind of spoiled us, in a way. It was hard to pick up on the language, but you pick up on basic words and greetings.
Can you walk me through what your life is like during the season, as well as off-season?
Preparing for the season is a little different because you want to make sure you’re in the best shape of your life, so you train a lot. You do a lot of shots, repetitions, working on your weaknesses and trying to improve them to become your strengths.
The season starts in September, and I got over there a month early for training camp. For our daily schedule, we wake up, eat breakfast, have our first practice at noon for two and half hours, put in plays, work on individual weakness… a lot of shooting, a lot of reps. After that, we have lunch, rest, then hit the weights for an hour and a half and go through a lot of agility and endurance training. We hit the track for conditioning to get in shape. As soon as we leave the track, we’re right back to our second practice, another two and a half to three hours. That second practice is usually a lot of scrimmaging and filling in the gaps and developing chemistry. Brutal days, preseason.
Once the season starts, we fall back a little bit. We still do our individual workouts, but it is less as a team. We don’t do any conditioning, because by that time we are in tip-top shape. It was more about getting in shots, sharpening skills and a lot of practice with the team. We make sure we’re getting the proper rest and rehabilitation.
The season is different from college. The college season began in October and ended in March. Over here, the season begins in August and doesn’t end until May.
What is the lifestyle of a pro basketball player like?
A lot of traveling, a lot of discipline and a lot of focus. At the end of the day, you are paid to win games, no matter if you’re injured or if you’re going through something back at home. It takes a lot of will. I learned the most about myself. I knew I had will and I knew I had grit, but I didn’t realize how strong mentally, or as a person I was until I went through that experience over there. You have to win. There’s no secret about that, but you are asked to do a lot. You have to maximize your potential every night, which can be a challenge. No matter if you’re hurt, no matter if you’re in a slump. It doesn’t matter – it’s what you’re asked to do, and you have to answer that challenge every night.
I went through my ups and downs, but still came out on top. I feel, as a rookie, just to have accomplished what I accomplished. I still have a lot of work to do, but I know that I had a hidden strength, a will that I didn’t know about myself before going over there.
How did your team do this season?
I would say OK. We could have done better. We did win a lot of games, and we ended up fourth seed out of 24 teams. We lost the second round of finals, to the team that eventually went on to win it all. Overall, we had a pretty good season. If I had to rate it on a scale of 1-10, I would say a 7.
Who is your all-time favorite basketball player?
Kobe Bryant, by far. Not even close.
What are your future goals?
I just notified the team that I will not be returning. I want to keep challenging myself. I can’t answer where I will be heading next, but wherever I’ll be heading next, I want to make sure I pick a challenge for myself as a man, and as a professional basketball player – just trying to keep bettering myself. My ultimate goal is to make it to the highest level of basketball possible. Just taking it one step at a time. I’m going to execute those steps and I’m pretty sure I’ll be successful in what I’m trying to accomplish. For me it’s bigger than basketball. It’s always trying to answer the challenge.
That’s how I look at life: it’s bigger than basketball.
My agent is currently in negotiation with other teams in other countries. I should have an idea where I’ll be going in the next month.
Any advice for current Bobcat student-athletes?
Give it your all.
My senior year, I can honestly look myself in the mirror and say I left with no regrets. Senior year didn’t end the way that I thought it would – we got out the first round in the Peach Belt tournament. We hadn’t made a tournament in four years, but I thought we were going to win it all. I can honestly say I gave it my all, and I walked away as a winner, even though I didn’t actually win my last game. To give it my all and be able to say “I couldn’t have played any better” or “I couldn’t have done any more than I did,” I walked away as a winner at the end of the day.
Give it your all. Leave it all on the line – in the classroom and on the playing field – that’s all you can ask for.