Heels make late push for Harris

Three-sport standout Kenneth Harris has a difficult decision to make – by the end of January he says. Though also an outstanding outfielder for Cherryville (N.C.), he has offers from four top area Division I schools as a wide receiver, along with one minor offer so far to play point guard. The UNC coaching staff is banking he'll choose to play football in Chapel Hill.

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    Still, Harris' love remains basketball.

    "I'm not sure yet which I will play," he told Inside Carolina on Tuesday.

    This past fall, the Ironmen went just 3-8 under its third coach in three years. Harris caught 72 passes for 1,482 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior season. With a receiver's mentality on both sides of the ball, he returned several interceptions for touchdowns as well.

    At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Harris' football coach Richard Davis confirmed his time in the 40-yard dash at 4.5 seconds, while both Davis and basketball coach Scott Harrill attest to his 39-inch vertical. Both coaches also say that Harris is a lock to qualify academically.

    "That's a big combination of stuff," Davis said.

    Harris has caught the eye of UNC assistant coaches Gunter Brewer and Andre' Powell in the past few months, prompting a visit from Brewer just last week to the tiny school in the 1-A Southern Foothills Conference.

    The Tar Heels were the last of his favorites to express serious interest however, and it remains to be seen if they can make up ground against Georgia, N.C. State and Virginia.

    "I contacted most of the coaches around about the fourth or fifth game of the season, and Georgia contacted Kenneth first," Davis said. "I kind of had a foresight of what was about to happen with his physical characteristics and the fact that he had almost a thousand yards midway through the season."

    But although it will be a late add to his schedule, Harris said he will be taking an official visit to Carolina within the next 30 days.

    "I just like the Carolina coaches and the offense they run up there," Harris said. "I was always a fan of Carolina growing up."

    Davis once turned down an offer to play football at Clemson, in order to follow an identical dream and play basketball at Appalachian State. It was a decision that ultimately cost him the opportunity to be on the Tigers' 1982 national championship team.

    Football is the sport in which Harris is most coveted at least from a collegiate standpoint, but he always loved playing basketball more.

    Harris was invited to last summer's NIKE All-American Basketball Camp which showcases the nation's top prospects. "Mr. Triple-Double," he is averaging 17 points, 11 assists and 8.5 rebounds per game for his school's 9-0 squad.

    "When he has the ball in his hands, he really makes a lot of things happen," Harrill said. "Having his athleticism out on the perimeter makes our team go. We've got a big 6-5 guy inside, Jason Brown, and those two really work together."

    But as of this week, Harris had just the one solid offer from UNC-Asheville; and he does not intend to play multiple sports at the next level. The Tar Heels have shown zero interest in Harris as a basketball prospect.

    "He has not decided which sport yet," Harrill said. "He could have signed in the early period, but he wanted to wait and see what came about with football."

    Simply from an outsider's perspective, it appears that Harris' best decision would be to play football. However, one only has to take a look at David Noel to see just how a player's heart can be the determining factor in the sport he ultimately opts for.

    If Harris does decide to play football at Carolina, and then goes on to leave a lasting mark, he will not be the first from his hometown to do so. Another famous UNC alumnus spent the latter years of his life as a resident of Cherryville.

    His name?

    Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice.

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