Terrell Harris(Hakro Merlins) Had To Reinvent His Game And Was Able To Heighten It As TJ Shorts Went Down

Almost 7 months ago Terrell Harris (191-G-1993, college: Georgia Coll., agency: Players Group) was in the beginning stage of playing his second full season in the German BBL and first with the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim and after 40 minutes against ratiopharm Ulm, the Merlins had lost by 22 points and started with a brutal 1-4 record. In the game he had 8 points. Almost 7 months later, he was fighting for the last BBL playoff spot and on the road in Ulm. He lost again against ratiopharm Ulm, this time only by 10 points, but the big difference this time was that he was the best player on the floor having posted 24/6/7 stats and held his own against ex NBA players Sindarius Thornwell, Semaj Christon and Jaron Blossomgame. The ex NCAA 2 player who worked his way up from the Pro B to the easyCredit BBL and has always had a chip on his shoulder wasn’t even in awe playing against guys like that. It’s no secret that the world is filled with exceptional talent and that there aren’t enough spots on NBA rosters. Already last year he had shown time in and time out again that he can battle against any ex NBA player and hold his own. He knows he has nothing to prove anymore. ‘I wouldn’t say that game was a proving point, I always felt like I belonged here. It would’ve meant more if we would’ve won that game. I can hold my own against anybody I wasn’t worried about that. No disrespect to their players, all of them are good players in their own way’, said Terrell Harris. He just wants to win and in the last game he faced his ex team Niners Chemnitz and won an incredible nailbiter 95-93, but he and the Merlins didn’t have fate in their own hands. They were praying for a Hamburg win over Bamberg to give them the last playoff spot, but in the end, the basketball God gave Bamberg the last ticket. But at least he beat his old team of whom he has the utmost respect for. ‘This one hurts more because it leaves a big what if, fully healthy I saw us beat 6/8 playoffs teams very comfortably. I feel like we would’ve been there at the end but who knows what would’ve happened. I for sure learned a lot from this season. I wish I can get back the last possessions of the MBC, Ludwigsburg, and Ulm game. I knew it would be a tough game for whoever we played at home so it didn’t matter if it was Chemnitz or whoever. Chemnitz is a good team and organization. Coach Rod played a pivotal role into the player I am now, I can never have ill feelings towards Chemnitz’, warned Terrell Harris. He missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season and understands that one can’t control certain issues. ‘ It was by far the most unluckiest season I ever been part of, but injuries and health issues are a part of the game. We still had opportunities to create our own destiny and we didn’t execute’, stressed Terrell Harris. His sixth professional season proved one to be of many highs and little lows and one where he had to reinvent his game in the second half of the season and heighten it after TJ Shorts got injured.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Terrell Harris in the Fraport arena in Frankfurt in Dec 2021

The days after the season ended haven’t been easy for the Florida native who believes that 20 year old German Aleska Kovacevic made the biggest strides in the pool of the young players on the team and knows instead of getting some extra sunrays in Germany in May, he could of been getting locked in for a tough series against Alba Berlin in the playoffs. One thing that will be tormenting the organization this summer will be the what if question of the TJ Shorts injury. Where would the team have landed at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs had the diminutive guard not gone down in Leiden, Holland. ‘Yes of course but everyone else had injuries as well. It sucks but is part of the game. I will also dissect what I could’ve done better as well personally then move on. Still feel like I could’ve got us to the 8th seed without TJ and through the Covid situation’, remembered Terrell Harris. The club played a superb Fiba Europe Cup season reaching the Quarterfinals and bowing out against a tough Leiden team and also reached the German cup top 4. But in the eyes of the American not reaching the playoffs doesn’t classify as a total successful season. ‘We didn’t make the playoffs, so I don’t look at the BBL season as a success’, warned Terrell Harris.

The ex Rostock guard who feels that the Golden State Warriors will win the 2022 NBA title believes that there wasn’t just one crucial loss in the season. Losing To Oldenburg, Ludwigsburg or MBC wasn’t more crucial than the other. ‘All the losses were crucial including both to Frankfurt. I can’t really say this one outweighed the other one. We should’ve taken care of business late in those games. You can’t change the past so I will learn and move forward’, commented Terrell Harris. Everything was rolling along for the Merlins in March 2022 as they were prepared to take the momentum from the BBL cup top 4 in Berlin, but then came a shock as TJ Shorts went down in Leiden. The club was hit hard and all of a sudden had to be successful without their MVP candidate. The club never gave up and regrouped and just continued to fight. Without Shorts the team was 5-8 and came so close to reaching the playoffs. ‘I mean he probably would’ve won MVP if he didn’t get hurt. Any team losing a MVP candidate will struggle to adjust. We ran a lot of our offense through him with the system we had. It worked for the most part until he got hurt then we had to readjust roles. Unfortunately we dropped literally one too many. I think the team learned TJ had a great supporting cast behind him as well. Jaren Lewis and I stepped up huge for us along with the others’, expressed Terrell Harris. Last season I witnessed ex Davidson (NCAA) sniper Jon Axel Gudmundsson have some massive scoring games with the Fraport Skyliners where he showed what scoring in bunches meant. This season he couldn’t find his role in Italy and came to Crailsheim in mid season. In Frankfurt he averaged 12,2ppg in 28,7 minutes and with Crailsheim only 5,9ppg in 14,7 minutes. Why wasn’t this guy used more especially when the team needed scoring support? ‘Last year the Frankfurt the team wasn’t as talented nor deep as the team we had here. He came midseason and the adjustment period was kind of tough since we were already rolling. You have to ask Sebastian why he didn’t play more, I don’t make the subs’, added Terrell Harris. The whole club had to step up with out TJ Shorts and one of those was Jaron Lewis who like Harris never got any gifts in his basketball life and had to battle to the BBL from the Pro A. ‘Jaren is my guy, very reliable and can do it all. His game is smooth and underrated. He’s a quiet and humble guy as well but he gets the job done every night. He’s for sure underrated and overlooked like myself. The things we do for teams can easily be taken for granted and overlooked because of our personality and most of it can’t be measured. Teams are not successful if you don’t have guys like Fabi, Mo, and Jaren’, warned Terrell Harris.

The versatile guard who names talented BG Goettingen guard Kamar Baldwin as the toughest player he faced this season played in two competitions for the first time in his career. In the Fiba Europe Cup he averaged 12.2ppg, 3.3rpg, 3.0apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 55.1%, 3PT: 31.9%, FT: 77.1%. Being able to play against advanced competition was vital in his further development as a player. ‘Fiba Eurocup was a fun competition. You had to bring it every game especially since the top 2 advance. I think I for sure I held my own in Fiba Eurocup. Of course I could’ve shot the three ball better but overall I think I held my own’, remembered Terell Harris. He scored in double figures in 10 of 13 Fiba Europe Cup games including nailing Antwerp and Leiden for 18 points apiece. In the easyCredit BBL he averaged 13.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 3.0apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 52.5%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 75.5%. One can say that he had two parts to his season before and after TJ Shorts went down. ‘I struggled at first it was a huge adjustment coming off the bench and playing the one entering the game then switching over to the two once TJ came back into the game. We ran a lot plays for TJ, therefore at the wing spot I had to spot up a lot. If I made shots from the corner three I had good games. If I didn’t then it showed in the stats. For sure it wasn’t my ideal situation, but we won so I had to put my pride aside for the team. Once TJ went down, I was our next best playmaker. For us to have any chance I had to make plays along with Jaren and I think I showed what I knew I was capable of. I was able to play my game shoot, drive, and keep others involved’, said Terrell Harris. He scored in double figures in 24 of 32 games including 24 points against MBC and 21 points against Chemnitz. His season changed when TJ Shorts went down. Suddenly he had to reinvent his game and suddenly basically continue to do what he did before, but now with even more efficiency, consistency and success. He heightened his game averaging 16,7ppg, 3,2rpg, 4,0apg and shot 48% from the field and 37% from outside and 55% from the two point area. It was a challenge that he loved to accept. ‘TJ is a special player so missing him was crucial. He created a lot of the offense for everyone so without him being able to play, someone had to pick up the slack. Teams were coming at us hard as they should’ve but I think we put up a fight for the most part. I knew what I was capable of so stepping up wasn’t too big of an adjustment for me. I wanted the pressure to lead this team in the playoffs with everything that was going on. It was a challenge but fun one’, commented Terrell Harris.

In the last 8 games as the playoff stress continued to rise and the pressure rose, he was able to step his game up a few more levers averaging 19,0ppg, 3,5rpg, and 4,7apg and shot 53% from the two point range and 41% from downtown. You never wish an injury for a player, but so often an injury can be that next opportunity for a player. The most famous example is when Drew Bledsoe went down in 2001 and then an unproven Tom Brady stepped in and the rest is history. In a way the injury to TJ Shorts was like a blessing in disguise for Harris’s game even if he doesn’t want to admit it. ‘I don’t look at his injury as a blessing in disguise because he got hurt very bad. I wish we can have that play in Leiden back. I started to find myself before he was injured. Either way I was going to have a big second half because I made the adjustments over break that I needed to make for the second half’, stressed Terrell Harris. At the end of the day, this season was an important one for Harris as he had to react quickly to the injury to Shorts and the whole experience before and after the injury helped him continue to mature as a player. ‘We ran a lot of the offense through TJ and it worked well, I had to play a role to support him and the team. We had no time for personal feelings or etc. I accepted it and adjusted my game. It brought the leadership out of me. I would say it helped me add the spot up shooting to my game for sure. I was comfortably taking more threes than I ever have in my career. Once he went down for us my role changed where I had to be extremely aggressive to have a chance. I had to take over the one and playmake from the two. I was able to use my speed and get out on fast breaks, get down hill, get to pull-ups, and still hit spot up threes’, stressed Terrell Harris. A big strength in his game is his outside shooting and that it dipped from 48% to 36% doesn’t worry him at all. ‘I broke my pinky on my shooting hand vs Hamburg. I had to adjust the last 10 games and my percentage dipped. I’m not worried at all I will be back to 40% next year’, warned Terrell Harris. An attribute that he has to why he has been so consistent in his career is that he has never been satisfied with his game. When you have a chip on your shoulder, you always want to get better. It will be another summer where he invests a lot of time to continue to craft his skill in the lab as there will be so many things to work on. ‘I have a lot more to go. I feel great mentally and physically. So many years left in me I hope. the love of the game and motivation is still there. I have a lot to prove I feel. This year I battled a lot of things. I’m highly motivated to prove myself right. I know what I’m capable of and what I need to work on to get to that top level’, stressed Terrell Harris. Not only will he be focused in the gym, but also in making his next step. He could play in so many other countries, but why not remain in Germany where he has played most of his career? I honestly could see him strap on the Alba Berlin jersey, but perhaps that step is a one season too early and an opportunity the Euroleague team won’t risk yet. But clubs like Oldenburg, Hamburg or Ludwigsburg should give him an offer. ‘This business is tricky as we all know. I have to sit down and analyze everything. I’m at that age now where these next few years are going to be crucial especially my next move. So we will see, right now I just need to decompress and heal up’, stressed Terrell Harris. He has made a big new step every season since turning pro in 2016 with Iserlohn. I’m sure it won’t be any different when he begins the 2022-2023 season with his new team.

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