I was doing some routine computer maintenance last evening, cleaning out unused files and the like, when I stumbled upon a series of Paul Harris videos that I had taken about a year ago at the 2005 Prime Time Shootout. These videos had never been formatted for public consumption, so I figured it would be great to cut them up and present them on this site.
The great thing about these videos is that they truly show the all-around game that Paul Harris will bring to the Orange. They illustrate precisely how he can impact a game in many, many ways. I've decided to present the video montage in a "storyline" manner, taking the reader through commentary on how I would assesss a player and the various skills that he possesses.
[Note: the videos should play in either Quicktime or Windows Media Player. However, you must have divX installed so your selected video player can read the codec]
The Game By way of background, the footage shown in this article is from the Vashon vs. Niagara game at last year's Primetime Shootout. Coming into the game, the teams were ranked #1 and #2 in the nation, respectively. Vashon won the thrilling game 69-66 in overtime, but Harris was absolutely dominant. He finished with the following statline: 25 pts, 9-14 fg, 2-5 3pt, 5-7 ft, 12 reb (3 off, 9 def), 2 st, 4 bs, 5 ast, 2 to.
Paul Harris the Scorer : Our first video takes a look at one of the greatest strengths of Paul Harris's game - slashing to the basket. Here we see Harris go to work from the wing. Note how low he gets on his crossover dribble and how he is able to change directions at rapid speed. Once past the defender, he is able to snake through the defense and finish with his great body control.
At the high school level, Harris is able to use his big body to punish people on the interior. Here we see Harris operating on the inside for a trio of scores, including 2 post-up moves and and a putback after an offensive rebound. While it will be nice to bring in a player who is skilled at scoring in the paint, it is hard to tell how effective he will be in this area at the collegiate level, since he does not have the height of a traditional power player.
One of the knocks on Harris is that he doesn't have a well developed perimeter game. In the times that I have seen him play, this has clearly been his weekest area. In the video shown here, we see Harris knock down a pair of three pointers. Note that his release is very slow, he shoots a set-shot, and that the ball is cocked behind his head a little. While he doesn't have great form, he does get good rotation on the ball. His perimeter shot at this point does not translate well at the collegiate level because he does not elevate above the defense or release his shot quickly. I should say that he had improved somewhat the last time I saw him play, but he still has a lot of work to do to bring this aspect of his game up to the skill level that he shows for the rest of his game.
Paul Harris the Passer: In my opinion, this is one area that Harris truly excels in. The next two video clips take a look at Harris's court vision and ballhandling. Note that a majority of his scoring passes come in open court situations. He may be one of the most unselfish players I've seen at the high school level, especially considering how dominant he can be as a scorer at times. Here we see Harris with a pair of assists in halfcourt settings, followed by 2 strong passes in transition.
The second video clip shows Harris attacking a half court trap with a beautiful pass into the paint, followed by two plays where he turns a defensive rebound into a fastbreak opportunity. Note how quickly he transitions from defense to offense, and note his open court speed with the dribble.
Paul Harris the Shot Blocker: It is very rare to see a player of this size (about 6-3/6-4) contest, alter, and block as many shots. Again, it's difficult to foretell if this skill will translate at the Big East level, but nevertheless it shows his intensity and determination on the defensive end. This video shows a trio of blocked shots and illustrates that he can defend both on the ball and coming from the weakside.
Paul Harris the Disruptive Force: The following video clips show three instances where Harris initiates transition offense with his intense defense. In the first video, Harris gets a steal on the wing and streaks past the opposition for a smooth finger-roll basket. Again, note the open court speed with the ball in his hands, plus the ability to extend past the defense for the score. This shows a great combination of power and finesse. Following the finger-roll, we see Harris get a steal at the top of the key and throw a perfectly timed pass to a teammate looking to start a fastbreak.
The next video also shows Harris defending on the perimeter - he forces the steal and transitions to offense, where he explodes down the court for an alley-oop dunk.
The final video in this section sums up Harris to a "tee". It starts with Paul defending on the perimeter, then dropping into the paint to block a shot. Vashon recovers and puts up another shot, but Harris grabs a man-sized rebound in a sea of blue Vashon jerseys. He makes a nifty dribble to get out of traffic, then proceeds down the court like he was shot out of a cannon. Unfortunately the play ends in Harris missing a dunk attempt, but all-in-all this video sums up everything that makes Harris such a spectacular prospect. The single 15 second play exemplifies his intensity, fire, competitiveness, a willingness to take on big plays, and superior athleticism.
It's easy to see why there is so much hype surrounding Paul Harris. This video montage is meant to show how well-rounded his game is, but at the same time it should be noted that many of the aspects of his game at this point are predicated on his size and athleticism. While there is no doubt that Harris will make an immediate impact on the Syracuse team next year, he will also need to make some serious adjustments to his game to maintain the same level of effectiveness that he shows as a prep. It's easy to see where those forays into the paint would get a lot harder with a Roy Hibbert or Aaron Gray holding down the middle on defense. And, Harris will need to improve his outside shot to keep defenders honest. The bottomline is that there is huge room for improvement, but there is also huge potential to match. Watching Harris develop next year should be fun indeed!