Harris wasn't given to platitudes or short answers in post-game press conferences. His responses were sometimes funny, sometimes deep, and sometimes off the target of the question. However, they were always entertaining and earnest, and you never got the feeling that he was playing games or goofing with the media.
There's no doubt, though, that Harris has a bit of a different outlook on the game, and on life, than most people. He told our Michael Carvelli in an in-depth interview that there's much more to life than basketball, which, while true, isn't exactly what you expect from a college sophomore. In that statement, he wasn't downplaying the importance of the game, but was putting it in its proper perspective – at least for him.
In his last interview at WVU (see video below), Harris seemed determined to begin the process of "becoming great" a theme that head coach Bob Huggins spoke of extensively over the latter part of the season. He recounted Huggins' message following the loss to Georgetown in the NIT just six days ago. "[You] can't cheat the game," said Harris as he recounted Huggins' words. "If you want to be great, you can't cheat it. He said, ‘Why can't we be great?' So, we are going to get in the gym, get in the weight room this summer, and we are going to be great. That's our goal."
Those certainly don't sound like the words of a player considering a transfer. But, as we've established, Harris is not a typical athlete in terms of his interview responses. Clearly, he says what he believes. So, did he know at that time that he wasn't coming back? Or was he considering it?
"We beat some good teams. We had glimpses of it," Harris said when asked where he thought the team stood relative to Huggins' goal. "I think that showed that we aren't that far from it. But we have to do it every day. It's easier said than done, but we have to do it."
As for Harris' statement that he wanted to play closer to home, well, that's a bit tougher to understand. From the first interview he ever conducted on campus, he showed a level of confidence and plain speech that seemed to reveal a player dedicated to making his mark, no matter where he was. It seems hard, at this point, to reconcile that confidence with someone that wants to play closer to home – especially a player that has repeatedly mentioned the goal of a professional career playing basketball. On that level, there's no choice involved – and Harris didn't seem to have any issues with being away from home before his statements of today.
Again, Harris was unpredictable and mercurial. He obviously struggled with his emotions at times, but those never seemed to be detrimental to the team. If he was frustrated, or made mental mistakes, they were borne out of trying to help the team, or frustration that his efforts had come up short. One never got the feeling that he was complaining or acting selfishly. Even an ill-advised drive or forced shot appeared to stem from the burning desire to help his team succeed. That makes it all the tougher to digest today's surprise announcement, which definitely blows a huge hole in West Virginia's hopes for the 2014-15 season.