October 22, 2013

Harris family hoops tree

Kevin McCarthy

Like father, like son. In this case, this references 5-foot-10 St. Joseph Notre Dame (SJND) junior Marcus Harris and his father Michael Harris because basketball became their sport of passion and each gravitated to running his respective teams from the point.

photo of Marcus Harris

Michael Harris resides in the Cal State Hayward Athletics Hall of Fame, being the court leader for the Pioneers' two NCAA II West Regional championship teams. In 1985, he was named the tournament's most valuable player and his 150 assists in a season is still the school record.

In the most recent Bay Area Competition Clinic, Marcus' play provoked this analysis: “Harris is an athletic one-man with a nice burst of speed. He handles and passes the ball well and makes plays in transition. He can pull up in the half court, shoots it fairly good with three-point range and has a nice floater. Harris is a sure-fire Division I prospect.”

This after being injured and playing sporadically over the summer.

There are also further bloodlines as Harris is related to the Pondexter basketball family out of the Fresno area.

So who is this young man from a hoops family of renown?

Someone who “loves to create for my teammates, kicking it out to the open man,” Harris explained. He'll enjoy two big targets this season but more on that later.

There is also the matter of shooting, like last season when he totaled five treys against Capital Christian in the CIF Division V NorCal championship game, a 50-35 Pilot win. In fact, sinking that fifth trey turned into his best moment on the court to date. “I was thinking, I like this. I love it.” Harris' play in that game earned him most valuable player honors.

But despite the genetic inheritance, time and greater experience were still required for Harris to get to his current prowess. “Besides better shooting and dribbling, I have a higher basketball IQ now [as compared to his freshman days]. I know when to attack. I'm now a floor general.”

Longtime SJND Coach Don Lippi knows of Harris' shooting ability, recalling “those five threes against Capital Christian. But he is very unselfish and enjoys finding the open man. He is our starting point guard.”

He added, “Marcus has been on varsity all three years. He played small minutes as the backup point as a freshman and then he took over the reins as a sophomore.”

Academically Harris is on target for NCAA requirements and he is looking to become a physical therapist.

As for St. Joseph Notre Dame, the Pilots are coming off a 24-12 season, finishing with victories over Head Royce, University, Liberty Christian, Branson and Capital Christian before falling in the state title game 47-46 to Horizon Christian Academy. Harris plus fellow junior Lamont Banks (currently ranked #18 in the NorCal Preps 2015 Top 40) and senior Temidayo Yussuf (a Long Beach State commit and #3 in the NorCal Preps 2014 Top 40) want to lead the charge back to Sacramento.

Look for 2013-14 to be a breakout season for Harris. It's a contribution that will be needed in order for the Pilots to play in the state capital again and he appears ready to supply it.