By Joe Henricksen

Meteoric rise for Harris continues

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By Joe Henricksen

In the last Hoops Report blog on Oswego East's Jay Harris in January he was referred to as the high school version of Monta Ellis. But when watching Harris lead Oswego East this season, the easiest way to describe and picture the year he's had is to think back to the sensational sophomore season Stephen Curry had for Davidson.

Remember when the little-known, slender shooting guard from Davidson took the NCAA by storm at the end of the 2007-2008 season? He averaged nearly 26 points a game, led Davidson to the NCAA Tournament and grabbed national attention with an unforgettable March run to the Elite Eight. Now Harris is putting on a nightly game of horse, averaging 30 a night and leading his unknown Oswego East team to a 22-4 record and a conference championship. Harris & Company head into March as the No. 5 seed in the Neuqua Valley Sectional.

Could Harris' recruiting be the same as Curry's as well? Curry was a slim 6-0, 160-pound senior who shot 48 percent from three-point range and scored over 1,700 career points at Charlotte Christian School in North Carolina. However, the thought was he would not be able to handle the physical play of the ACC or any other high-major conference. He received offers from Winthrop, Davidson and Virginia Commonwealth. The rest is history as he's now averaging 15 points a game in the NBA.

Obviously the point here is not that Harris is bound for an NBA career, but rather the parallels in playing in obscurity and putting together one magical season that is now grabbing headlines. After the Hoops Report watched Harris two more times this week, when he lit up Neuqua Valley for 38 points with coaches from Loyola, Illinois State, Ball State, Virginia Tech and New Mexico State in attendance Tuesday night, and scoring 30 more in a win over Plainfield North, the superlatives just don't stop and the recruiting won't be the same as Curry. There are too many schools clamoring over the 6-1 combo guard as he's surpassed the expectations of anyone and everyone. Here is a player who entered the season in November as the 28th ranked player in the senior class. That was too low. When the new Hoops Report 2010 rankings come out he will likely jump into the top 10.

In the end, no matter what happens from here on out and what people want to believe and as crazy as it may sound with all the attention and interest, Ball State and Valpo will be tough to beat. Harris has been very upfront and honest with his appreciation to the two schools that were in on him from the beginning. Little do people know Harris actually has turned away schools with bigger basketball pedigrees and reputations, some of which offered.

For a little more Jay Harris background information and breakdown of him as a player, below you will find a past Hoops Report blog from this past January.

Unsung Harris Lighting It Up

By Joe Henricksen

Playing in the far western suburbs in the Southwest Prairie Conference can have its disadvantages. Just ask Oswego East's Jay Harris.

So while the Chicago media praises the exploits of the Jereme Richmonds and Wayne Blackshears of the prep basketball world and the local media in the far western suburbs gets hung up on East Aurora's Ryan Boatright and Neuqua Valley's Dwayne Evans, all Harris has done is light up the scoreboard and evolved into the high school version of Monta Ellis.

There was the 32 points he scored on Boatright and East Aurora in an 83-78 win and the 35 spot he put on Peoria Central in December. He hung 47 on Plainfield North and 36 more against Willowbrook in the last couple of weeks. And this past Friday night he was 10-of-11 from the field (often against a box-and-one defense) for 27 points in a huge conference win over rival Oswego, which vaulted his Wolves to 15-4 overall and into a tie for first place in the Southwest Prairie. For a kid who had to have people call him Jay because everyone was spelling his given name -- Jordon -- incorrectly all the time in the papers and internet, he's doing just fine now in making a name for himself. The problem is few people have gotten out to watch Harris.

Harris, a 6-1 combo guard, has been one of the most electrifying scorers in the state after averaging just under 18 points a game as a junior. The senior guard is averaging 28 points a game while attracting more and more interest from college programs. While schools like Ball State and Valparaiso may have a leg up on Harris due to being in on him hard and early and extending offers, the word has spread and the interest has skyrocketed. Wichita State, New Mexico State and Creighton have shown interest, while several others have and will be steadily climbing into the picture with sudden interest.

"Those five schools have definitely shown the most interest," says Harris of the aforementioned Division I schools, "with Ball State and Valpo being right there at the top."

Harris, though, still says he's figuring it all out and is just glad the doors have been opened. Those doors have swung open wide as the smooth, slender scoring guard is one of -- if not the -- top uncommitted prospect in the state, along with Julian guard Walter Lemon and the Hyde Park duo of Phillip Jackson and Fabyon Harris.

Harris just seems a whole lot more comfortable, at ease and dominating with his high school team than he did during the AAU season. The interest from colleges following the summer was mild and the November signing period passed, but there was no panic for Harris. And that has carried over into the season. He's not forcing things -- remember, he took just 11 shots against Oswego and just one attempt the entire first quarter -- while still getting his points in the end.

"I've calmed down and I've let the game come to me," says Harris of a change in his game. "Plus, playing in front of crowds like this [against Oswego] is a lot different than playing AAU where no one is watching. This feels really good right now. The notoriety I am starting to get is great. This is my senior year and I want it to be special, and right now we're winning and with this win we're tied for first."

Things are certainly coming together for Harris, who also has improved his academic standing in the classroom. The Hoops Report has projected Harris as a really nice fit at the mid-major level, a no-brainer when it comes to playing in a league like the Mid-American Conference or Horizon League, where he could really flourish.

Harris, who is among the top 20 prospects in the senior class, is at his best by putting the ball in the hole with a quick and consistent jumper, particularly off the dribble, that doesn't need much space to get it off. He is one of the best shooters in the state, regardless of class. Whether he's shooting from 20-23 feet or his developed mid-range, pull-up game, his shot and release are soft. Opposing teams are completely focusing on him defensively -- rotating different players at him, playing gimmick defenses -- so he's under pressure most of the time and still finds a way to hit shots virtually every game. With his perimeter shot and creativity off the dribble, he puts a lot of pressure on the defense with his offensive abilities. Although he lacks natural body strength and will always be on the thin side, he still will need to find a way to pack on some strength.

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19 Comments

The crazy thing about harris is his game hasn't changed since he entered high school. He's been that good as a sophomore it's just now people are really starting to notice him. I don't question his offensive game for a second, but will he able to defend in college? If he can't I can only see him coming off the bench to shoot 3 pointers but every team needs one of those which could lead to him playing as a freshman in college.

As my man use to say.... 'UNBELIEVABLE"!! These so called talent evaluators trying to scramble everytime some kid starts to put up great games and seasons. How come they cant recognize the talent before the player starts scoring 40s and starts blowing up?? Where was Joe Hendrickson, the Bullseye, and Brian Stinnette last year or over the spring and summer?? Thats the MO for all these guys!! They cant see potential they just evaluate on performance and what schools are recruiting a kid. If you are a talent evaluator shouldnt you be able to tell high majors what kids project to be high majors weel in advance of the average JOE?? Or determine if a kid is a D1 kid before they start playing like a D1 player. I mean damn, yeah thanks for letting us know Jay Harris is good after he scores 47 and 44.....

Nice article. With all of the fanfare Boatright gets, I think Jay is a way better player. If I had a choice, I'd take Jay any day.

Dice Clay ... There is a reason Jay Harris didn't have a lot going recruiting wise this summer and fall. He didn't have a great summer. I watched him a bunch. Every coach in college basketball basically missed him too after watching him play AAU this summer. Where were all the offers? Every kid develops differently and at a different pace.

It's not like this kid has been under the radar his whole life! I remember seeing Stinnete and Hendrickson's rankings and Harris being in that 20-30 or so range which makes him a Division I kid I believe before the season started. And as far as I know there are not high major schools who have offered him of yet and it is March of his senior year. He obviously is better than people realized, even me who lives in Oswego.

Oswegoan is right. Been hearing about this kid a lot, just not in the Chicago papers. Went back and read some old stuff on Jay Harris in this very same blog. I copied and pasted what was written about him back in May in this blog. Check it out May 14 in the blog These 10 ready to be showcased. .........

JAY HARRIS, 6-0, PG/2G, Oswego East
• The slender combo guard is a scorer who has a little swagger and bounce to his game. There will always be concerns over whether he will be able to take the pounding at the college level as Harris is rail thin. However, Harris, is a real rhythm scorer with advanced scoring abilities. He can put points on the board in bunches and can be devastating creating his shot off the dribble, shoot with range or beat people off the dribble. Harris, who plays summer ball with Old School, still must become more comfortable with the nuances of the point guard position and may need time to develop those skills, but he is arguably one of the best five shooters in Illinois and a bonafide Division I prospect.

Dice Clay ... I'm not going to call it scrambling when writing about a player who is doing things that were a bit unexpected. The kid is playing great, better than ever before and even better than I thought he could. He has always been a Division I prospect. I felt he was a low-Division I prospect when last spring began. At the end of the summer I felt he was still in that low-Division I/low-maior plus range. But he really has elevated his game in the fall and now this winter, which is why he has moved up in terms of what level he can play. I still think he's an ideal mid-major player, where he can achieve big things and succeed at a really high level at the highest of the mid-major level, though he has a high-major skill: shooting the basketball. .... Thanks for reading and the post Dice Clay!

Harris can flat-out play! Big time player. But kids slip through the cracks all the time. Look at Stephen Curry. Great example.

Im not just talking bout Jay Harris, this is a common theme....waffling, yo yoing, front running, jumping on the bandwagon, etc. No one can make up their minds. No one is a basketball mind and no one is experienced enough to make a determination. I would have to give the nod to the Schmidt Brothers, just because they are accurate more often than Stinnette (who has no clue) and you Joe. I think you do a pretty solid job, but Roy and Harv have just been around longer and have more experience watching talent. They have seen more..

Mr. Dice Clay ... Did you see where the Harris kid was ranked by your experienced evaluators as recently as December? Wow! We're talking 70 or 80 players ahead of him. And that was just two months ago.

Hey Dice,
The 80's called and said pick a new name. Your love for the Schmidt brothers is way off. If you read their site on Feb. 19, they admit and I quote "We saw Harris at AAU events throughout the last year as well as at the South Suburban Fall Exposure League and thought that he was average at best." So I guess they yo-yoed and jumped on the bandwagon too. Why can't you just give props and admit it was a good piece of writing and this is kid can flat out score. Kids progress at different times and this Harris is peaking at just the right time. Lots of players don't develop until their senior years and don't deserve a lot of hype. Nice writing once again Joe!

I don't understand all the Jay Harris unknown, coming out of nowhere stuff. No, he is not talked about I guess like city players are. But It's almost March and he's been written and talked about a lot. Actually right here in this Hoops Report blog I've read about him a number of times. Willsy pointed that out as well. And I am subscriber to the Hoops Report and there has been plenty written about him in there including a feature story a year ago during his junior year. Just because college coaches are now coming in droves we act like we've never heard of the kid?

Look, he was ranked by Stinnette. He was ranked by the Hoops Report. Was he high enough? Obviously not based on what he's been doing. But its not as if he was completely off the radar by these people. I think no one thought he would be where he is today as one of the top players. Forget about the numbers. He's put up numbers against some quality teams but also put up huge numbers against some really weak teams. Oswego East's schedule is not all that tough. but props to the kid!

Also, just read another old blog on here. Check out the January 1 Hoops Report blog. Class of 2010 Holiday Stock Raiser: Jay Harris ... and I quote "Hoops Report loves kids who can score and Harris can do it with the best of them. Look for the recruitment of Harris to pick up big-time steam over the second half of the season."

5 will get you 10 he ends up at valpo!
BUTLER DEFEATED VALPO LAST NIGHT!

THE WORD ON THE STREET IS HE IS A SHOOTER, BUT HE DOESN'T HAVE THE BODY TO PLAY IN THE BIG TEN, LOOK FOR VALPO TO GET HIM, AND RESURRECT BRICE DREW IN VALPO LAND!

I remember the 34 points Ryan Boatright hung on Jay Harris in that same game in December. You forgot to mention that East Aurora was without Snoop Viser and Neuqua Valley was without Dwayne Evans in the games they lost io Oswego East. The media hung up on Ryan Boatright? This area is watching the progress of perhaps the most talented High School player to ever play in Illinois. JJeffers you can have Jay Harris.

See no problems with how/where/when Jay Harris is 'ranked', evaluated etc by any of the guys out here. Good players turn into better players all the time. Evals hit and miss all the time. I only get annoyed when guys pat themselves on the back for evaluations of guys that do well. I haven't seen that with Jay Harris, as his arrival to the big-time scene is nothing new under the sun...Nice coverage over-all, Mr Henricksen. Keep it moving [btw, Pat Miller is crystal clear best PG in Illinois]!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on February 25, 2010 10:11 PM.

Appreciating Abrams was the previous entry in this blog.

Last hurrah for Class of 2010 is the next entry in this blog.

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