Obviously if you win an NCAA title, that brotherly bond will last a lifetime. If you were to ask NBA legend Patrick Ewing how often he still has contact to former teammates David Wingate or Reggie Williams from that 1984 winning team, you could bet that he would react positively with that massive winning smile and mention that that contact is still there. But what about just reaching the Sweet 16? You would be amazed how intact teams can still be after more than 3 years. The 2019 University of Houston team was a special one. One of those vital role players and defensive stoppers was Chris Harris (208-C-1997, college: Houston, agency: Inception Sports). He has gone via Turkey, Hungary to Kosovo as a professional in only a few years, but the memories from that winning team that lost a heart breaker to powerhouse Kentucky are still huge. After blow outs over Georgia State and Ohio State, Houston found a real match with Kentucky that was sporting top class players that season with Tyler Hero, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickly, PJ Washington and Ashon Hagans. They lost a real nail bitter 62-58 and after that battle, 3 years later, Chris Harris doesn’t need to give a big summary about what still plagues him today about that monumental game. ‘I will never forget Tyler Herro to go ahead 3’, stated Chris Harris. He will never forget 3 of the main figures during the Cougars March Madness run in 2019. ‘Armoni Brooks, Dejon Jarreau and Nate Hinton all played major roles in our success at Houston. All 3 were great teammates on and off the court. Armoni was a knock down shooter, Dejon was a great playmaker and defender and Nate brought a little bit of everything, but what stood out was his energy every day’, stressed Chris Harris. Even 3 years later, that sense of serious brotherhood is still there. The success of the Cougars was great that season and a true bond formed that is still held on to today. ‘I talk to every single one of them daily’, stressed Chris Harris. ‘Chris Harris is a great player and plays hard every single minute on the floor. He is a defensive presence and his ability to block shots is amazing. He also crashes the boards and is a tremendous offensive rebounder. He will always work hard. He is a great locker room guy and teammate. He cares about team success over individual success’, warned Hapoel Galil Gilboa (Israel-Winner League) forward Justin Gorham in December 2022.
The 25 year old 210cm center who lists current Golden State Warrior Jordan Poole as his toughest opponent in the NCAA was born in Houston, Texas on March 9, 1997. He began his basketball career at James Madison high school. He then enrolled at the University of Houston, but was redshirted and decided to attend San Jacinto College (JUCO). He had to make this decision mainly because he didn’t qualify to go to the University of Houston because of his grades. Going the JUCO way isn’t always an easy one mainly because you have so many guys there wanting to prove themselves and have a big chip on their shoulders. He definitely knew what to expect and it wasn’t that bad to go through adversary and see how difficult JUCO can be. But he took it in stride, because he was one of the more fortunate ones to land at a very special program while never losing his main focus down the road. ‘It wasn’t tough for me, my team was #1 in the country and I stayed committed to Houston throughout my whole JUCO process. In his one season at San Jacinto he played 35 games averaging 5.7ppg, 6.3rpg, 2.9bpg, FGP: 57.6%, FT: 43.6%. He helped reach the JUCO elite 8. After a season of paying his dues, he then got his huge chance in the NCAA with the University of Houston. In his 3 year career at Houston from 2017-2020, he played a total of 78 NCAA games. He was able to improve his minutes, points, rebounds and blocks per game average each season. He never averaged more than 17 minutes per game there, but he took it all in stride. ‘Our team was deep at every position, and we were ranked in the country each season. We also made deep tournament runs each season, so there was not much I could complain about’, stressed Chris Harris. He scored in double figures in 4 games including 13 points a piece against Northwestern State and Portland. Even if he didn’t have the massive offensive role, he is still grateful for the chance of being part of the program and the success being able to play for head coach Kelvin Sampson. ‘Coach Sampson was a great mentor and coach to me. Him preaching that nothing is easy and you have to work for everything has really helped me as a pro’, expressed Chris Harris who remembers going back and forth against Brison Gresham in practice one on one battles. He also helped the team reach the AAC final twice.
The Texas native who lists Lebron, MJ, Magic, and Kareem on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore began his professional career overseas with Final Spor Genclik Bursa (Turkey-TBL). After never averaging more than 17 minutes per game in the NCAA, he suddenly became a starter and averaged 30 minutes per game. He needed no adjustment period putting up a masterful double double season average of 12.1ppg, Reb-3 (10.6rpg), Blocks-1 (2.6bpg), FGP-3 (67.4%), FT: 41.6%. Often Americans come overseas and experience a major culture shock, but he didn’t. There was no wake up call to being a rookie where he felt very far away from home. ‘I was honestly just excited to play pro ball’, smiled Chris Harris. He scored in double figures in 22 of 27 games and registered 13 double doubles. He had many great games like having 21/18 stats against Kagitspor or 12/20 stats against Duzce or 14/16 stats against Istanbul. But he also showed his worth on the defensive end getting 4 or more steals 9 times. He had 5 steals twice and even swatted away 7 balls in an exciting 66-65 win over Konyaspor where he also had 10 points and 11 rebounds. ‘The game with 7 blocks was my most memorable moment. As far as being a rookie, I felt like a regular member of the team, sometimes I even felt like an experienced guy’, commented Chris Harris. He moved to Hungary in his second professional season, but didn’t finish there. In his time there he averaged 6,9ppg and 5,8rpg. He began the season very well scoring 20 and 15 points, but the club had a lot of misfortune not only losing, but losing very tight games. In his span there, the team lost 5 games by only a combined point total of only 11. Even if it wasn’t a right fit, it was another learning process where he was able to witness a new league and style. ‘That league had great competition and good players. It definately helped me with the physicality of Europe’, stated Chris Harris. He also got a useful lesson in what real work ethic is from American veterans Carlton Guyton and Jordan Barnett who have balled in Germany. ‘Those guys were always in the gym getting up shots and taking care of their bodies, it encouraged me to do the same’, added Chris Harris.
The center who has Lebron James as his GOAT them moved to Golden Eagle Ylli (Kosovo-Superliga) to finish the season. Even if he couldn’t finish the season in Hungary, his move to Kosovo was like a blessing in disguise as he helped the team win the league title. He averaged 7.6ppg, 6.2rpg, Blocks-1 (2.4bpg), FGP-3 (64.1%), FT: 30.0%: and scored in double figures in 4 games and had 2 double doubles. In the finals against Trepca, he was a real force averaging 6,0ppg and 8,0rpg and almost had 3 blocks per game. He had 9 blocks in a span of 2 games. Even after winning the title and putting in his 2 cents, he still wasn’t happy with his game. That JUCO mentality and having a chip is always there. ‘I don’t dwell on it. I actually think I could have played much better’, said Chris Haris. It was a no brainer for him to return to Kosovo and try to help the team defend their title. This season they are playing solid but getting good competition from teams Peja and Pristina. The pressure to repeat is there as they have a target on their backs and every team wants to beat them. But he is having the time of his life as basketball life is great. ‘It’s been a great experience, especially with fiba competition. It’s been great working with coach Adis Beiragi, I’ve learned a lot from him. I’ve also gotten along with every teammate I played with for the team’, stated Chris Harris. It also has been a dream playing with veteran point guards Malcolm Armstead and Jay Threat who always put him in the best position to do his thing in the paint. ‘Those guys communication and experience has helped me and the entire team a lot. I mostly appreciate their competitiveness’, stressed Chris Harris. This season in 26 minutes per game he is averaging 9,6ppg, 7,2rpg and 2,2bpg in the Kosovo Superliga and in the Fiba Europe Cup is averaging 7,2ppg, 6,2rpg and 2,5bpg. He is a player that doesn’t like to compare his game to an NBA player, but sees himself as a prototypical big man that is a lob threat and shot blocker. He has never been that big time scorer except in Turkey, but has confidence that he can become that type of scorer if given the chance. It is obvious that at the moment he is making a name for himself as a defender. He still has huge goals to become a very special defender. ‘I think I’m an underrated defender. I’m more of a rim protector, but I want to be a guy that coaches would trust to switch on a guard’, warned Chris Harris. It is no secret that he wants to continue to develop his offensive game. ‘I’m working on posting up, scoring in tight spaces, and attacking defenders on face ups’, warned Chris Harris. It will be interesting to see where the journey of Chris Harris will go. He keeps moving up the basketball ladder step by step. He played very well against the German teams Bamberg and Chemnitz in FIBA Europe Cup action averaging 6,0ppg and almost 8 rebounds and 3 blocks per agme. Often the easyCredit BBL teams take note of guys that played well in international competition. Who knows maybe next season one will see Chris Harris swatting away balls in the easyCredit BBL?