If there was a surprise player of the summer it had to be Tobias Harris. Tobias Harris? Wasn't he already considered an elite high major? Sure, but not one of the few best in the country.
And it almost certainly was a matter of getting in shape.
Flip on your TV and you'll be inundated with infomercials about getting in shape and all kinds of products designed to shrink your waist. Well, instead of wasting a lot of money on fantasy products, why not consult the real expert: Tobias Harris of Half Hallows Hills West in New York.
Through sheer determination and hard work, the 6-8 Harris remade his body. In doing so it opened up his game and provided the country with a glimpse into the world of a determined young man who wants to maximize his chances to play the game professionally.
"When I started running I was 220," Harris said. "As I kept going I was losing weight. Right now I'm at 209, 210."
Every day Harris, often times his brother and teammate Chris Cox would kick off the morning with a run. "Waking up every morning at 5 o'clock before school, running two miles and getting up extra shots in the gym," Harris revealed his secrets. "I worked on my speed, agility and strength with a trainer."
Monday thru Friday during the season, Harris went to work on his game and his body. He'd take the weekends off. Maybe it was the rest that allowed him to be fresh all summer long. Maybe it was determination to reach his goals. He played with extra bounce and a freshness the other guys lacked toward July's end.
"Even in some games when I was extra tired I pushed myself. It was my last time on the circuit."
Don't think his improved body didn't have a lot to do with his endurance. "That was the biggest factor. Last year I was making moves and finishing but coaches said I was doing it with my touch. This year I'm finishing them with my strength. I was able to move quicker and get around other forwards and guards that were trying to guard me."
For Harris, the rise (he's presently Top 30) up the charts began with an appearance at the NBA Camp. Mandated state testing kept him out of action the first day and a half of the event but when he landed at the Top 100, he rocked the place. "Coming in I wanted to increase my stock and prove that I'm one of the top players. Throughout April and May I was working hard every day. It started at the NBA Camp and I told myself I would go out and do what I do. After that camp my confidence picked up."
On Wednesday, before heading to the Nike Global Games, Harris visited Kentucky unofficially. The ‘Cats have ground to make up on the field but clearly they intend on taking a big swing at Harris.
The competition? Rutgers (first offer), Syracuse, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Connecticut, Maryland, Louisville, Virginia and West Virginia. Those were the pre-blowup schools. UK, Memphis, Florida, UCLA and Vanderbilt are the new entrants.
Harris appears to be loyal to a good portion of his early list. He's actually taken as many unofficial visits as any player in the 2010 class so he's seen a good deal of campuses already. The big question is which programs he'll visit officially. "I can't really say that right now," Harris said. "The schools that been on me from the beginning we look at them in a big perspective because they've been on me from the beginning. I'll probably get to some of those (early) ones because they're some of my top schools."
Harris said he's got his eye on Syracuse's elite camp toward the end of August. He dreads cutting his list because of the relationships he's made which will inevitably become severed. In a few weeks, the time will come for him to chop up the list and make it manageable as he steams toward a decision.
As far as the basketball goes, mission accomplished for one of the hard working guys in 2010. He's an all-american now, everyone knows it. He's earned it, there's no debating his merits. It's got to be a good feeling knowing what it took to reach this point.
"I wanted to prove people wrong. It was for myself. This is what I love doing and I want to play it till I can't no more. I listened to the old guys who don't play. They said they'd go back and do things differently so I try to take advantage of stuff like this."