Paul Harris: Personifies Toughness

If there was a poll taken among players in the country of guys you'd want to go to battle with, Paul Harris would get more than his fair share of votes. The Niagara Falls (N.Y.) senior guard will be an elite player in the Class of 2006 - at whichever prep school he chooses to attend.

Paul Harris had a broken nose and a lip that was basically split in half. Most players would have watched their teammates from the bench. Not Harris.

The 6-5, 220-pound senior guard at Niagara Falls High (N.Y.), who opted to play at the Kingwood Classic last April despite appearing more like a boxer than a basketball player, is the prototypical Big East guy.

``He came down flat on his face in one game and there was blood everywhere," GC Ballers coach Jeff Bishop recalled. "We took him to the hospital and didn't get back to the hotel til 5 a.m. and he played in a 9 a.m. game."

``If I'm going to war, he's the one I want," added Bishop.

Harris (No. 19, isn't the greatest outside shooter. If there's one weakness in his game, that would be it. However, Harris is strong and tough enough to get to the basket virtually at will, he handles it well and also plays tenacious defense.

``He understands the game and the little things," Bishop said. "He wants to get better and plays hard all the time. He's a leader and makes people around him better and the special ones do that."

Harris has always played basketball during the summer, but he didn't play in high school until last season because of a combination of academics and other personal problems. In fact, Harris said he didn't even go to school his freshman year.

``I always got in trouble and was lazy," Harris said. "I'm not a bad kid. I just messed up, but at one point I was going to give up basketball."

Harris made up for lost time last season, averaging 20 points and 11.5 boards per contest.

Because he didn't make his work in the classroom a priority until recently, Harris will need to spend next year at a prep school before heading off to college.

Harris fully admits that Syracuse has the inside track for his services, but he's also considering Pittsburgh. Harris also mentioned Illinois and Ohio State and said that he's always wanted to receive interest from North Carolina.

``I like Syracuse a lot, but I wouldn't say it's a done deal," Harris said. ``I'm not quite sure yet."

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