Jermaine Harris (Photo: Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

Big Man Harris Gaining Steam, Holds UMD Offer

The Terps offered Rock Creek Christian (Upper Marlboro, Md.) power forward Jermaine Harris May 30.

Rock Creek Christian (Upper Marlboro, Md.) power forward Jermaine Harris established himself as a high-major recruit last spring, when he showed out for DC Premier on the 16U squad. The DMV native showed enough potential as an athletic big, who could sometimes stretch the floor, to cull out offers from the likes of Providence; West Virginia; Cincinnati; Virginia Tech; and Rhode Island.

Now, a year later, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound three-star has added even more elements to his arsenal, enticing looks from several other major college suitors. Xavier, Georgetown, Miami, Tennessee, Georgia and, most recently, Maryland all pulled through after their coaches watched Harris on the Under Armour circuit in April.

"It's an honor to have all these options and great programs recruiting me. It's some big schools. But it's all still new to me," Harris said. "I don't have any leaders or anything like that yet. I've got to learn more and take some visits first. It can be kind of overwhelming."

Through four weekends of AAU ball between April and May, Harris is averaging almost 13 points on 55 percent from the field and 50 percent from range (7-of-14). He's grabbing about 5.5 rebounds and recording a block each game as well.

"I think I've done really well this spring just helping my team win games. I've been a big piece for [Premier]," Harris said. "Definitely, I've improved my outside game. I'm playing a lot on the outside now, and I'm confident I can play both down low and on the perimeter. I think that's going to help me at the next level."

Added his Rock Creek Christian head coach Chris Cole: "I think Jermaine has improved in every area from last year to this year. His shooting has obviously improved, but so has his confidence and his fundamentals. He's just a lot quicker than a lot of bigs, and he's very versatile. His versatility has really helped him.

"He's definitely going to be more of a stretch-4 [in college], but what's unique about Jermaine is he can be a banger inside too and play a variety of different roles. He's kind of a David-West type with more length. He's obviously not David West, because he's not going to play five positions, but Jermaine has a unique skill-set... He also has a lot of room for growth. Jermaine has never lifted a weight, and once he gets in a college strength program, he's really going to develop his body and get even stronger."

The Terps are counting on that development.

Maryland assistant Kevin Broadus, who recruited Harris when the coach was at Georgetown last year, recommended the 6-9 local to his new employers. Head coach Mark Turgeon and Co. liked what they saw during the April live sessions, and what they heard from Broadus, so they presented the offer May 30. 

"It's a great program and I've built a good relationship with Coach Broadus and the coaches up there," Harris said. "Coach Broadus isa good guy, and he's been recruiting me for awhile. He's been coming to my games for the last couple years. I've been building a good connection with him. It's great coaches up at Maryland."

Since Harris has grown up in the shadows of College Park, Md., he's been on campus before. He's seen games in Xfinity Center, met the staff in person and toured the campus.

"It was a great visit there, and it's a great atmosphere up there," Harris said. "It's a real hard-working program. I like what I've seen out of them, and it could be a good fit. It's the [hometown] school too, so that's always a good thing to have an offer from them."

The latest look from UMD has Harris' attention, but several other suitors have been on him for much longer. That includes West Virginia, which Harris has been to before and seemingly has his eye.

"I like their style of play -- they get after it, they're tough, they're physical on defense, and they play hard," Harris said."I've met their coaches a few times and I've met their head coach. Coach [Bob Huggins] is a great guy and a great motivator. And it's a great atmosphere up there."

Besides Maryland and WVU (he mentioned those two trips "jumped out"), Harris has been to Georgetown, Va Tech and Penn State. He and his coach aren't positive when they'll be able to get out this offseason, but programs such as Xavier, Cincinnati, South Carolina, Providence and Rhode Island are on the radar.

"And we're going to be around Maryland all year, so we'll see some of the local schools like [UMD] again, and we're definitely getting back to West Virginia," Cole said.

Harris said the staffs from WVU, Xavier, Rhode Island and South Carolina have been in the closest contact for now. He's been exchanging texts on a semi-regular basis with his other suitors.

The Rock Christian prospect has no intention of committing anytime soon. He'll thoroughly evaluate each program and where they stand with him before forming a leaderboard and then embarking on official visits. For the time being, Harris and his coach are targeting November, possibly, for a college decision.

"Just a program that feels like home, a place where I can get a good education, a program where I can get better and develop my game," said Harris of what he's looking for in a school. "And early playing time is definitely big."

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