Coach Bruce Pearl’s Auburn basketball team received a major boost from a pair of graduate student transfers last season and the Tigers are looking to add another to the 2015-16 roster after he took an official visit to AU over the weekend.
Tyler Harris, a six-foot-nine forward from Dix Hills, N.Y., who is scheduled to graduate from Providence College this spring, said he is seriously considering the Tigers after checking out the Auburn program.
“I wouldn’t have visited if I didn’t see myself fitting in and being a part of it,” said Harris, the brother of NBA player Tobias Harris, who played for Pearl when the Auburn head coach was in charge of the hoops program at Tennessee.
“I got a chance to hang with the players and with the staff,” he said of his trip to Auburn. “All of the guys on the team are really cool. They are a great group of guys and are really talented. I always heard they have a great coaching staff and it was good to be able to communicate with them and build a relationship with them.”
Although he noted that he is seriously considering Auburn, Harris said he is not ready to make a pick yet on his new college home. “I don’t have a favorite,” he said. “I am just going through this process and taking my time with it.
“My graduation is on May 17 and I would like have a decision a day or two before or after,” he said. “I have to get finals done next so I have to take that week off and get my finals done first. The week after that I will be open to get back to the process.”
The process has included official visits to Iowa State and Georgia Tech plus unofficial visits to UConn and Boston College. He pointed out that he may take another visit or two and is considering a group of colleges that includes Nebraska, Oklahoma State, LaSalle and VCU, teams he has had in-home visits with from coaches.
“The main thing I am looking for is to be able to come in and be an impact player, and be able to showcase myself and my ability,” he said. “I want to be somewhere they can put me in a good position for the draft.
“I am looking to come to a school where I can win and get to the tournament and win big,” he pointed out. “Every school I have been to I have been on a winning team. I want to make sure if I come to Auburn I bring a winning attitude and take the team to the tournament.
“I also want to have good relationships with the players and have a good relationship with the coaching staff,” he added. “I want to find a school and a program overall where I find family loyalty. I want to go to somewhere where I would want to come back to and enjoy the summers. I am looking for a home.”
Harris noted that in addition to his relationships with Pearl and Auburn assistant coach Tony Jones, who helped coached his brother at Tennessee, he also knows point guard Kareem Canty.
“I know Kareem from New York,” he said. “We played with each other and against each other at camps plenty of times. Kareem is a great player. With the team they have got Kareem will be able to do a lot of great things.”
Last season as a junior Harris helped Providence College to a 22-12 record as the Friars ended their season with an NCAA Tournament loss to Dayton. He averaged 9.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist in 26.7 minutes per game while hitting 42.1 percent of his field goals, 22-77 threes and 80-109 free throws.
As a sophomore he helped the Friars win the Big East Tournament championship while averaging 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. He originally signed with North Carolina State where he averaged 1.8 points and 1.2 rebounds in 18 games before transferring to Providence where he sat out for a season under NCAA transfer rules.
As a graduate student he will be able to play immediately at his new school, something guards Antoine Mason and K.C. Ross-Miller did last season at Auburn.
Commenting on his Auburn visit, Harris said, “I like the tradition. I was able to see the Bo Bikes Bama. I see a lot of the tradition. The fan base is amazing, the campus is beautiful and the coaching staff is great. Everything is beautiful about Auburn.”
Talking about his decision to transfer, he said, “It came down to at Providence I felt like I needed to go somewhere else and establish myself as a player and be able to use my ability more. I feel like at a different program I can showcase my scoring ability more, my play-making skills. I felt like that was the best reason for me.
“I?had a wonderful time at Providence College,” he said. “It was a great experience for me. I was able to help change the program around and be a part of winning a championship, which was a huge dream of mine, along with helping the team get to the tournament. It was a huge accomplishment being at Providence College.
“I just want to take my talent, and the hard work I have put in, and take it to another program to where somebody needs me to help their team win,” Harris added.