Getting to Know: Simon Harris
Raleigh, N.C. - NC State was in a unique situation last season, having three players on the squad that could practice but were not allowed to play due to NCAA transfer rules. Over the last few weeks, GoPack.com caught up with all three players and has given the Wolfpack fans a chance to get to know each one a bit more before the 2007-08 regular season starts.
This week’s final feature is a look at junior forward Simon Harris. Harris started his college career at Elon, but after playing two seasons with the Phoenix, Harris was presented with an opportunity that he want since he was nine years old.
That happened when NC State hired Sidney Lowe, and Lowe’s very first coaching hire was to retain Larry Harris on staff, who just happens to be Simon’s father. The elder Harris now enters his 12th season on the Wolfpack bench, and his son could not see a more perfect fit to finish his own college career. There might not be one player more excited for the Pack's first game this Thursday night against William & Mary than Simon Harris.
GoPack.com: Why did you decide to transfer from Elon?
Harris: I always wanted to play at NC State because my dad has been here for so long. When the opportunity opened up when Coach Lowe came I just jumped on it. You can’t beat playing in the ACC, I think every basketball player I would think would want to play at a school like NC State. NC State has just always been my home.
GoPack.com: Why did you choose to go to Elon out of high school?
Harris: I can honestly say, skill-wise I don’t think I was necessarily ready to compete on a level like this. I was more of a football player in high school, and when I moved down to North Carolina that is when I decided to give up football and focus on basketball trying to gain a scholarship. At that time the level I could go to was a smaller school.
GoPack.com: When did you move down to North Carolina from Pittsburgh?
Harris: I moved down here my junior year of high school. That is really when I got serious about playing basketball beyond the high school level.
GoPack.com: What were your thoughts when your father initially went to Arizona State with former NC State head coach Herb Sendek?
Harris: I honestly was going to go out there with him, because I really wanted to be wherever he was going at that time. It just so happened that when he came back to coach at NC State with Coach Lowe, I was offered the opportunity to play here. I think if I would have went out to Arizona State, I would have tried to play football there instead.
GoPack.com: What was your reaction when your dad told you he was going to be on the new coaching staff at NC State?
Harris: I couldn’t stop smiling, I was so happy. Arizona was hot, there is no other way to put it. Two days before I was going to move out there, the situation changed at NC State with Coach Lowe being hired and he came back. I took my second to last final at Elon and was all set to move, then the announcement came that he was going to have the chance to keep coaching at NC State/
GoPack.com: Was it hard to leave Elon?
Harris: It was a hard choice for me to leave. I had a great relationship with my head coach there and I loved him to death. The main reason I went to Elon because I knew that he was the guy that would teach me how to play the game and how to conduct myself as a basketball player and a person. He made a real effort just to get me at that school, so it was extremely tough to leave him.
GoPack.com: Elon played at NC State your freshman season, what was that like?
Harris: Even though we lost, that was one of my most memorable games while at Elon. When they announced the schedule that we were playing in the BCA Tournament in Raleigh, I sprinted to see what team we had first, and it just happened to be NC State. It was really weird and awkward to be playing against all those guys that I’ve hung around with and played pick-up with tons of times.
GoPack.com: What did you learn last season being able to practice with NC State the whole season?
Harris: It was hard last season not being able to play, just from the standpoint that there were so many opportunities to play because we were short handed. That was the first time where I had to go to practice, had to do all the running, but didn’t get a chance to be out there playing. So it really taught me patience and to stay hunger for what is upcoming.
GoPack.com: What did you work on this summer to get ready?
Harris: I worked up on my jump shot a lot. I didn’t feel like I was a good shooter in the past, so I just made a strong commitment to work on my outside shot more. I cut down my strength training, and worked more on ball handling.
GoPack.com: What do you see your role as this upcoming season:
Harris: I see myself as somebody that when given the opportunity will play hard and do whatever the coaches ask of me. If they need a specific thing done, I will try my best to do that.
GoPack.com: What is the first game going to be like, with you playing for NC State:
Harris: I couldn’t be more excited than to finally get the opportunity to play for NC State. I really don’t; have too many dreams yet for what I want to do with my life, but I know putting on that Wolfpack uniform is something I have thought about since I was nine years old. I think I will be honored to finally fulfill a dream of mine that I’ve wanted for so long.