2016 Duncanville point guard Jalen Harris is far too familiar with SMU, but just last week heard from SMU head coach Larry Brown and both Jalen and his parents, Erion and Karlin Kennedy Harris, were estatic.
“I’m honored to hear from him. Knowing his background and stuff,” Jalen said. “Both of my parents went to SMU so that’s a big plus for me. He was just checking in on me and trying to introduce himself.”
“We were getting ready to do a workout yesterday. He could barely give me the news and focus on what he was doing. We didn’t get a whole lot done,” Erion said. “I was happy and obviously for me I like that option for him.”
Harris is comfortable at SMU and that’s a huge plus for Harris, who’s looking for that home feel.
“That’d be great because I’m used to the area already. I’ve been there a lot and I’d be more comfortable and a lot like home, which is what I’m looking for,” Jalen said.
Erion agrees that it’d be a huge plus if SMU were to come through with an offer.
“It’s really hard to put it into words because we’ve always hoped that would happen. When he was growing up, he was always on the small side and he’s still 16 so he doesn’t turn 17 until the school year,” the former SMU guard said. “The last couple years he has shot up and he’s really starting to add his man-weight and his game has really blossomed.”
SMU women’s basketball’s former all-time leading scorer also would benefit from Jalen staying nearby says Erion.
“She’s thrilled because she can keep her baby nearby and keep her in Moody. I still go to most of the games as possible, but she doesn’t get out as much as she wants to. That’d be a huge incentive for her to become more available on campus. I’d love it.”
The former SMU guard that saw SMU transition from the Southwest Conference to the Western Athletic Conference believes SMU is on par with some of the top programs in the country now.
“Great school, great networks, great basketball program now and great coach,” Erion said. “They’re competitive and playing a great schedule. It’s hard to see any difference in SMU in the ‘high-majors.’”
Jalen echoed that and said SMU has taken a jump up under Larry Brown.
“They’re doing a really good job. I remember a few years ago SMU wasn’t as good as they were now,” the 6-4, 185-pound guard said. “Last year they made it to the NIT finals and this year they made the tournament. I had them going pretty far, but those upsets. I didn’t think it was goaltending.”
The four-year letterman has been a part of the ups, downs and everything in between he said and it was a positive for him to see SMU get over the hump finally.
“It was exciting to see them finally get over the hump, break through, win the championship, get into to the tournament,” Erion said. “That’s always the measuring stick and even though the success they had was more than what was expected. I wish they could have stayed longer.
The old Moody Coliseum is gone and now the upgraded Moody Coliseum has SMU fans and casual Dallas sports fans making games and on top of Larry Brown changing the program, Erion says Moody played a huge part.
“Moody was a big step in that. Going in there now there’s parts that remind me of the old Moody, but it’s a big time venue,” Erion said. “I like the way it’s set up from the lighting to the atmosphere to the announcements and concessions back there. I think it goes a long way to making it more than just a basketball game.”
Jalen has also developed a relationship with SMU graduate assistant and former SMU and Duncanville forward Shawn Williams.
“I’d like to do that. I’m pretty close with him. One of his cousins are some of my best friends so he’ll come back and play open gym with us too so that’s how I got to know him. It’d be pretty nice to keep on the SMU tradition of Duncanville players.”
Brown told Harris he’d watch him on the Nike EYBL circuit playing for Pro Skills this summer and Harris is looking forward to showing coaches what he can do.
“I like to think that I can score the ball pretty well, but I like to play unselfish and look for my teammates more. I’d like to pick up my rebounding a little more, but I play solid defense and I can lead the team well. I’m very mature.”
The junior averaged 18 points a game for Duncanville last year and Erion sees that he could be a great pickup for a school.
“I see him play everyday so I know what he’s capable of shooting, dribbling, defending and those things,” Erion said. “The sky is the limit for him in that regard. It’s just a matter of how assertive he can be on both sides of the ball.”
“Is he going to be just another good player on a good team or is he looking to take a leadership role and carry that squad to where they need to be? He’s going to have to perform for them to have a chance.”
Rice, Tulsa, Creighton, Virginia, UTA, Weber State and Houston are all showing interest. So far, Incarnate Word is the only school to offer Jalen. The EYBL circuit will be perfect for Jalen to showcase his skills.
“Just getting to show all the coaches more of what I can do,” Jalen said. “When I play at Duncanville, I usually have to play off the ball. I can score the ball and play really good defense.”
Erion has a few things he’d like to see out of his son when he gets out there on the floor this summer.
“Talking, taking more risks, coaches loves him because he’s got high efficiency, but dad would like to see more usage,” Erion said. “That’ll be interesting to see how he does against some of the top talent in the country. He’s played a lot of the regional talent and he’s done really well in those so how can he fare against the national level.”
Finally, Erion commented on SMU’s new head football coach Chad Morris and the job he has done so far being similar to what Larry Brown did right away when he arrived. Erion admits he didn’t follow it too closely, but said the excitement around the program is impressive.
“One of the things I’ve noticed immediately is he’s made DFW a priority, which is like with Larry Brown, there’s no understating how much it means to go get the coaches, looking at more players and making it a home team, not just for the alumni, but for the city,” Erion said. “That’s how you fill up that stadium over there.”
Having good football and basketball teams can benefit the two sports and the school so much more Erion said.
“It works well for everything when football and basketball are doing well. When football was making it to the bowls and basketball team was having decent seasons, everything around Dallas and SMU is better.”
Jalen has been to visit SMU plenty of times he says, but doesn’t have any visits scheduled at the moment.