Damion Harris transferring

When a college basketball program in desperate need of a backup post player – as the University of Tennessee was last winter – elects to redshirt a 6-foot-10, 275-pounder, it's pretty obvious that player simply didn't fit into the program's plans.

Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Damion Harris has decided to transfer from UT to Div. II Newberry College in South Carolina, where he will be immediately eligible. His departure leaves the Vols with 12 scholarship players – seven returnees from 2005-06 and five incoming freshmen.

This is a perfect example of a guy being signed to play in one system, then being the odd man out when a new coach arrives with a new system. Harris was signed by former Vol head man Buzz Peterson to play in a deliberate offense and a halfcourt defense. When Bruce Pearl arrived in March of 2005 with an uptempo offense and a fullcourt defense, Harris lacked the quickness and athleticism to blend in. The fact he was significantly overweight didn't help his chances any.

Harris saw brief action in UT's exhibition game with Southern Indiana last November. He was withheld from all of the regular-season games, even though the Vols were forced to start 6-foot-4 Dane Bradshaw at power forward and to use 6-foot-7 Andre Patterson as the backup post behind 6-foot-10 Major Wingate. That was a clear-cut indication that Harris did not fit into Pearl's fast-paced system.

In a statement released through the UT sports information department, Pearl had this to say:

"We wish Damion well. He made a lot of progress as a student and an athlete during his time here at Tennessee. He will have a good chance to contribute right away at Newberry."

Harris averaged 17.1 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior at Wade Hampton High in Greenville, S.C., then signed with Tennessee in November of 2003. Failing to qualify academically, he spent a year at Prince Avenue Prep. Peterson seemed to lose interest in Harris when 6-foot-9 Joey Cameron of Leeds, Ala., committed to UT in the summer of 2004. When Cameron reneged and signed with Auburn, however, Peterson re-signed Harris in November of ‘04.

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