Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King, who like Smith and Harris were also separated by a year, both came from New York and played the forward positions for three years under Ray Mears on teams that went a combined 61-20, and recorded five straight victories against rival Kentucky.
Although he projects as a point guard for Tennessee, Smith was rated the nation's No. 6 shooting guard and was the highest ranked player the Vols signed. Harris is rated the nation's No. 8 shooting guard by Scout.com in the Class of 2007, and he's growing in popularity among college coaches that have seen him play.
Unlike many hardwood phemoms, Harris wasn't a star by the time he reached high school. His breakthrough came between his sophomore and junior seasons, when he grew four inches to his present 6-foot-5 frame. Suddenly last summer, Manny — so named because his mom thought he looked like a little man as a child — went from undersized shooting guard to walking, stalking mismatch.
"Playing the game started to come a little easier with my growing more," he told Go Blue Wolverine magazine. ""I have something to prove. I didn't get that much respect, but now it is starting to come."
His production went up as well, going from pedestrian numbers as a sophomore eye popping as a junior as he averaged 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game to pace Detroit Radford to the state semifinals. In an 82-49 victory over Cody High School, Harris put up 28 points and 21 rebounds. Even in the 58-54 semifinal loss to Saginaw Arthur Hill High School, he scored 26 points while the rest of Radford's team combined for 28 points. His efforts netted him All-Metro and Dream Team honors in both the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press.
Harris was a prospect on the rise but most college coaches didn't have a chance to see him play until recent AAU contests. Bruce Pearl and Tony Jones were in Detroit to see one of his games recently and among the college coaching contingent that gathered to see him play for The Family last weekend at the Kingwood Classic in Houston.
What they saw was a player who is rail thin at 180, but also razor sharp on the court with his ability to slash, shoot, score and sit down on defense. He finishes with authority and gets down and dirty for loose balls. His potential is as great as his upside is high, and once his frame is as strong as his game, he can be a force on either end of the court. Harris also needs to improve his outside shooting in order to open driving lanes that he can exploit from the perimeter, but his high-energy approach and athletic gifts make him a high-value target especially for teams that play an up-tempo style.
IT will continue to track the future of this rising star.
• Regarding rising stars we'll also monitor the progress of Loyola Academy prospect Jeffrey Jordan, the son of NBA legend Michael Jordan. The younger Jordan is a 6-1, 160-pound guard who is attracting high-major interest. Telep offered the following appraisal after seeing Jordan in the Kingwood Classic.
"He's a strong mid-major lead guard who gets into the paint, can create for himself and others while using a nice little burst of speed. Jordan said playing time is what's most important to him and mid-majors need not be scared off by the family genes. Get in there and recruit this guy because he's a player and he's got some leadership ability as well."
• Another team taking part in the Kingwood Classic was the Tennessee Travelers Trio which lost to Team Florida. However one player to shine during defeat was guard Terrence Oglesby, who displayed a killer J and tough physical play during the tournament. He is attracting Division I interest and is regarded as a borderline high-major prospect that is likely to be signed by a big-time team given his ability to bury the jumper and play hard-nosed defense.