May 20, 2011

Harris finds his next home

Kevin McCarthy

In water and on cinder, grass and hardwood, Monte Vista High and Lakeshow talent Mike Harris has displayed intriguing athletic potential. So much so, that a college scholarship was likely in his reach in multiple sports, depending on his time and desire. Basketball ultimately became his primary focus and that choice has resulted in a scholarship to a school in the Southland.

photo of Mike Harris

Harris is headed to California Lutheran University (CLU), in Thousand Oaks. Rich Rider coaches the Kingsmen, members of the Southern California Collegiate Athletic Conference which also includes Caltech, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Laverne, Occidental, Pomona-Pitzer, Redlands and Whittier.

Here’s Lakeshow Coach Joe Fuca on the signing: "Mike Harris will be a great addition to the Cal Lutheran basketball program. The CLU staff was so excited to get Mike for their team because of his aggressive style of play and his never-ending passion to win. Mike made a great decision to go there and be a significant piece of the puzzle to win the SCIAC conference."

A 6-foot-4 lefty noted for his shooting range and rebounding, Harris exudes a wisdom beyond his years. Asked why he selected Cal Lutheran, he said, "I liked the campus, it was a welcoming atmosphere and it seemed a better fit for the things I want to be doing the next 10 years." He will be majoring in kinesiology and spoke highly of the level of the program and professors at CLU.

photo of Mike Harris

Due to his height and the team’s needs, Harris was positioned inside quite often for Monte Vista but will transition to the three spot for the Kingsmen, as a small forward or wing. Two seniors, one 6-foot-4 and the other 6-foot-3 and the leading scorers on the team, are departing CLU.

What’s fascinating about his primary high school hoops position is that, as he put it, "I was pretty small as a freshman -- but I’ve grown seven inches since."

It was as a swimmer that he initially established his athletic bonafides, turning his focal point to the pool after his freshman year competing in football, basketball and track. "I had been a swimmer since I was about 5 and I really thought I’d be swimming at the next level," he explained. But there was still participation in basketball and football. He competed in all these time gulpers while still maintaining a 3.2 grade point average.

But it was basketball that eventually prevailed. "I just developed a greater love for it," according to Harris. It was his success at Monte Vista and his time with Coach Joe Fuca’s Lakeshow basketball club that cemented his turn towards hoops.

Harris wanted to thank his parents "for all their support and letting me choose the sport I wanted to focus on." He also especially offered his appreciation to Monte Vista Coach Bill Powers because "he’s one of the main reasons I eventually became all involved in basketball."

Powers had very complimentary things to offer about his departing player: "As a player, Mike brought a work ethic that was contagious. On the court, he rebounded relentlessly and battled through every possession. His ability to play inside, as well as outside gave the team options. There was no one on the team that I demanded more of than Mike and he responded, every time. We had a lot of younger players on our roster and Mike taught them the responsibility that goes along with being one of the best players. He was invaluable to our team. Mike also used the same discipline that allowed him to excel on the court, in the classroom. He had a positive presence on our campus and he created a legacy that will last in the gym, the classroom, the hallways and the quad. I will miss him."