Harris’ Mr. Basketball award a win for region hoops – sort of
April 10, 2012 11:18PM
TAB MUG HUTTON Andy Lavalley/Post-Tribune ptmet
Updated: May 12, 2012 8:19AM
It figures that a kid with region ties would pull off an upset in the voting for Mr. Basketball.
This area is always underappreciated for its high school basketball ties.
Gary Harris Sr., father of newly-crowned Mr. Basketball Gary Harris Jr., graduated from Wirt High School in 1986.
He is a proud Gary native, returning to the city once a month at least for his job as a pharmaceutical rep and to visit his mother, Mildred, Gary school teacher for 40 years. His father was an East Chicago cop.
The genes for the honor didn’t come from Gary Sr.
Gary Sr. swam and ran cross country at Wirt after getting cut from the basketball team his freshman year.
His mother, Joy Holmes Harris was a college All-American at Purdue. She later traveled with the Hoosier Lady Stars, a women’s team that toured the Midwest playing exhibition games. Gary Jr. tagged along with her when he was a baby.
Harris, a 6-5 guard who averaged 25.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game for Hamilton Southeastern High School in Indianapolis, was a surprise winner over Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell of Park Tudor in the Mr. Basketball voting.
Ferrell won the last two state titles with Class 2A Park Tudor and took his team to another state championship game in 2010.
He also had the pedigree: Indiana University-bound, Ferrell had been pumped up in the central part of the state since he was in grade school.
Harris, a five-star guard according to Rivals.com who is also an excellent football player, burst onto the scene over the last two summers. After an intense recruiting battle, he’ll join Branden Dawson at Michigan State next season.
Harris beat Ferrell by a vote of 154 to 103. The Indianapolis Star said that was the closest voting total since 2005.
A bit of a head scratcher? Not really for the people who voted and watched both players. Harris’ impact offensively and defensively on the floor was greater than what Ferrell brought to his team. Offensively, Ferrell is very good. Defensively, it’s hard to tell how good he is since Park Tudor played a 2-3 zone almost exclusively.
The other issue for Ferrell is that he wasn’t even the best player on his team. That honor goes to sophomore Trevon Blueitt, a 6-7 forward/guard. Blueitt already has a slew of offers lined up from colleges like Indiana, Notre Dame and Purdue. More will certainly follow. Blueitt also gets the region stamp of approval. His father is a 1989 graduate of Lew Wallace High School.
Gary Sr. said he’s proud of his son and he doesn’t necessarily consider the award an upset.
“It’s an excellent honor,” he said. “He deserved it.”
Region pipeline to Ann Arbor: Spread the news. Purdue coach Matt Painter is no longer the king of region basketball.
That honor belongs to Michigan coach John Beilein. The latest coup for Beilein came when he snagged Crown Point point guard Michael “Spike” Albrecht. It’s the fourth player that Beilein has recruited from Northwest Indiana. Albrecht’s only major Division I offer was from the Wolverines. Beilein recruited another NWI player with a similar anemic offer list from high Division I schools — Zack Novak. Novak turned out to be one of the most consistent four-year starters in the history of Michigan basketball.
The other two region players are Glenn Robinson III, an undervalued prospect that the Boilers whiffed on, and Mitch McGary. Robinson didn’t get much attention early from Purdue. Michigan swooped in and made him an offer last summer, betting that his development was going to sky-rocket. The Wolverines got it right. Robinson was ranked No. 18 by ESPN after being named the MVP of their All-Star game.
McGary was another late bloomer who developed into a top 20 prospect after leaving Chesterton for prep school. Purdue had some interest in him early but the Boilers decided not to go after him hard.
Throw in Dawson and his Michigan State choice and you could say the state of Michigan owns Northwest Indiana basketball recruiting. Painter has offered one Northwest Indiana kid — Lake Central’s Tyler Wideman, a sophomore, so far. His best year came in 2007 when he snagged E’Twuan Moore, Robbie Hummel and Scott Martin, who transferred to Notre Dame.
Post-Tribune NWI Golf Classic returns: It’s back again. The greatest golf tournament in Northwest Indiana will be held at Turkey Creek on June 3 and June 10. Cost is $55. Look for the ads online and in the paper starting today. Hurry and sign up. The courses are already in pristine shape from the good weather.
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