Harris All Smiles After IU Offer

Bloomington, Ind. – A tidal wave of scholarship offers may be coming for Tobias Harris, but that didn't dampen his enthusiasm when IU's offer became official.

Bloomington, Ind. – A tidal wave of scholarship offers may be coming for Tobias Harris, but that didn't dampen his enthusiasm when IU's offer became official.

IU Assistant Coach Ray McCallum was in attendance at one of Harris' high school games last week, and the 6-7, 210-pound sophomore from Long Island, N.Y., received word soon afterwards that the Hoosiers were officially interested in making him a part of their 2010 recruiting class.

Indiana's interest had long been apparent, since the staff had been sending mail for the better part of 18 months according to Harris' Half Hollow Hills West High School coach Bill Mitaritonna. But Harris was still ecstatic when Coach Kelvin Sampson made it official.

"He was so happy about (the offer)," Mitaritonna said. "He called me right away, and his face lit up when I saw him the next day. He was like, ‘I can't believe it.'"

It might be a surprise to get an offer with 2 ½ years of high school basketball remaining, but Harris has been building a reputation as one of the best up-and-coming Long Island prospects for some time. He first made his presence felt two years ago, when he was team's sixth-man as a 6'0" eighth-grader. Since that time he's grown to 6'7" and 210 pounds and is now one of the elite players in the 2010 class. He's averaging 31 points, nine rebounds and two blocks for Mitaritonna's squad, and has been attracting a steady stream of college coaches on a nightly basis.

McCallum has been among those on-lookers, but the IU staff also got an up-close look at Harris last summer when he came to Bloomington for one of IU's Elite camps.

"He really caught their eye," Mitaritonna said.

What stands out about Harris, according to Mitaritonna, is the fact he has guard skills in a forward's body. When he was younger he played primarily guard, but he's since grown seven inches and could grow a couple more. He's also spent plenty of time working on his game with his father, Torrel, who played collegiately at Duquesne.

"He's an extremely skilled player for only a sophomore in high school," Mitaritonna said. "He doesn't turn 16 until the summer, and the things he's ding right now in high school I've never seen in my 10 years.

"He can shoot from anywhere on the court. His passing is improving, his defense is improving, he's an excellent free-throw shooter, and his post-up game is blossoming as we speak."

Mitaritonna said he combines those skills with the kind of work ethic that should make his game improve a great deal between now and the fall of 2010.

"He's such a hard worker, it's hard for him not to improve," Mitaritonna said. "Every practice he seems to get better. It's almost impossible to kick him out of the gym. He's always the last one to leave, he's always working on his jump shot, he's work on his post game, he's tireless."

Those are things that figure to have his stock on the rise over the next two years. Indiana would like nothing better than for him to wrap up his recruitment early, but that appears to be a long shot at this point.

"we talked about (remaining patient) a couple of weeks ago, and I said, ‘hat do you think?'" Mitaritonna said. "He said, ‘it's too early. I have to go see these schools, see what their academics, see what their campus like is like.' I was thought, wow, that's a great answer out of a 15-year-old.

"So he's obviously talked about it with his parents. That's good. He should do that. He should check out schools and do what he feels is right with his family. I'll support him in whatever he does. He's got a great head on his shoulders."

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