Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pitarresi: Harris hopes to shock the world

Paul Harris says he is going to shock the world.


I hope he does.


Harris is working out in Chicago with former Niagara Falls High School and Syracuse University teammate Jonny Flynn in anticipation of next month’s NBA draft. Flynn is all but assured of being picked, probably midway or late in the first round. Harris, who many people thought would be a pro after just a year at SU, is much less likely to be chosen.


Except, he doesn’t agree, and he means to show all the experts he is capable of playing basketball at the highest level.


It is difficult not to be impressed with Harris when you first see him. At 6-feet-4 and 220 pounds, he is a sculpted physical specimen. He’s fast, he can jump, he’s aggressive, he’s creative, he has an electric crossover dribble and baseline reverse, and he has about the best nose for the ball of any basketball player you’ve ever seen.


In the open court, Harris is a killer. His strengths play right into the running game. He’s much tamer when a game breaks down to half court. He has a tough time getting inside, at least against the taller, athletic big men in the Big East, and, while he can hit the mid-range jumper, his 3-point skills are a long way from where they need to be, especially since there is just one position he can play in the pros – shooting guard.


We read that Harris’ confidence is returning after an up-and-down three-year career at SU, when he sometimes appeared to be coach Jim Boeheim’s whipping boy. And he has a shooting coach, former Canisius player Tim Sullivan, who really has helped him develop some range and skill in that department.


I know Harris has had some behavior issues going back a ways – I know about one incident on a pretty personal level – but in three years of dealing with him I never found him to be anything but honest and forthright and more than willing to accept responsibility when things went wrong. I think maybe he learned a few things in his time with the Orange, whether it was a good experience or not, and has grown up a bit.


So, again, I hope he does shock the world.


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