'Old school'

Some elite freshmen show up for their first college basketball season with flashy clothes and attitude. Figuratively speaking, the jewel of Tennessee's recruiting class showed up with a hard hat and a lunch pail.

Although he was Scout.com's top-ranked power forward recruit for 2009-10, Tobias Harris brings a blue-collar work ethic to Big Orange Country, not ego and showmanship.

"Tobias is a very mature basketball player," Vol head man Bruce Pearl said this week. "He's got a very high basketball IQ. He makes other guys better out there on the floor. Now he'll do some things that make you go ‘ooh' and ‘ah,' but that's not the kind of player he is.

"He's a fundamentally sound, strong mind and body freshman. He's a mature kid. He's got a mature game. He's got an old-school game."

Harris, a 6-9, 225-pounder from Dix Hills, N.Y., agrees with that assessment.

"I'm not really a flashy player - a guy that's going to dunk a lot on people and that kind of stuff," he said. "I just get the job done in a solid way."

Senior point guard Melvin Goins loves what he has seen from Harris to date.

"Tobias Harris ... man, he's an extremely great talent," Goins said. "He's a very agile, very athletic player. He doesn't really play above the rim but he's a very solid, very fundamental, very sound player who is very efficient with his moves."

Associate head coach Tony Jones appears equally impressed with Harris, who was nicknamed "All Business" due to his no-nonsense approach.

"Tobias is a godsend," Jones said. "He's got all the bases covered. His reputation speaks for itself - a McDonald's All-American. He's a guy that makes other people better, and he can make plays for himself. He's a good rebounder - long and tough. He's going to be a kingpin for us."

Like a lot of young basketball prospects, Harris grew up idolizing the star player for the Chicago Bulls.

"I always wanted to be like Michael Jordan ... him being the greatest player in basketball," Harris said. "Watching him when I was little made me want to be great."

He seems to be succeeding in that quest. By the time he entered junior high school Tobias Harris began to sense that he might become a special player in his own right.

"I pretty much realized it in seventh grade," he recalled. "Then when I got in ninth grade I knew I could be nationally good. That's when I began really working at it."

Harris averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds as a high school junior, leading Long Island Lutheran to the Class A state championship. He averaged 24.7 points and 14.4 rebounds as a senior, leading Half Hollow Hills West to the Class AA state title game.

Harris is the early leader for the power forward spot shared at various times in 2009-10 by ex-Vols Tyler Smith, J.P. Prince and Wayne Chism.

"Obviously, the position that he comes in to was our greatest need," Pearl said. "Losing Tyler, J.P. and Wayne at basically that point-forward position, he's going to be asked to do a little bit of all that stuff, and he's absolutely in position to be able to start. He is in position to win the starting position, no question, and be one of our better players."


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