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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Harris embraces role

When you ask Devin Harris what his best basketball memory is, without hesitation he will tell you it was those last 12 seconds of the Tulsa game when he was able to find teammate Freddie Owens, who hit the game-winning shot as time expired against Tulsa.

This comes from a player who was named Mr. Basketball Wisconsin two years ago, who had one of the best freshman seasons in UW school history and has miles of highlight tapes of his best plays over the years. Yet his favorite basketball memory is the one in which he made the pass to set up his teammate to win the game.

The transition has occurred for Harris; he is no longer just a player, but he is the point guard, the leader, the player that takes pride in making everyone else on the team better.


Assistant coach Tony Bennett explains that moving Harris from shooting guard, which he played his freshman year, to point guard this year was a total no-brainer.

“Coach Ryan knew that [moving Harris to point] would be our best chance to be successful,” Bennett said.

Looking back on the decision, the second year head coach, as usual, was absolutely right that the team would be the toughest to beat with Harris running the show.

Compared to last year, Harris has improved in every aspect of the game, despite being forced to alter his game in some ways.

Even though the sophomore has been the primary ball handler this year for an average of 34.3 minutes per game, he has doubled his number of assists, and what is even more impressive is he has managed to reduce his number of turnovers to only 1.5 per game.

While Harris is not a stranger to the point guard position, as he played the position some in high school and last year when Travon Davis was on the bench, something new that has come along with his position this year is the added responsibility in the leadership department.

“I am a lot more vocal this year and the team looks to me a lot more to say things when things need to be said because everything starts with the point guard pretty much,” Harris said. “I didn’t want to say too much last year because I was only a freshman and I didn’t know that much about it, but it just comes along with experience.”

Along with, as Harris puts it, “controlling the game and making sure everyone is in the right position, directing traffic and making sure the game doesn’t get out of hand,” he has also taken on the role of motivator and even teacher at times to the younger players.

“When you are down he just tries to pick you up,” freshman Boo Wade said. “He is just out there doing all the things to make the team happy and make sure they are doing the things they should be doing.”

Wade, who is Harris’ roommate on the road and also one of his best friends on the team, also points out the impact Harris has had on him this year during his first season.

“He takes me over the opposing teams when we play them and he just tries to show me the ropes and tell me when I get in there I have to look for this and look for that,” Wade said. “He tells me how to see the floor better because I am coming out there as a freshman. As a whole, he is just teaching me everything I need to know so when he leaves I can take his spot and do the things he does.”

Wade is not the only one on the team who recognizes how important Harris’ personality and leadership are to the team; Bennett can only smile and laugh when asked to describe Harris. The first word that pops in the coach’s head is charismatic.

“He is a kid who loves life and he just always has this little grin,” Bennett said. “He is a great kid, and he is fun to be around. The guys love him and he has a sense of joy about him that is contagious. He is a lovable guy.”

That is exactly what Harris would like to hear, as he would like to be remembered not for his basketball skills or what he accomplishes on the court, but for “what kind of person I was no matter how I finish and that I was great guy,” Harris said.

Even though Harris is such an upbeat player, there are still times when he has a problem with his jump shot or a fight with his girlfriend and needs someone to be there for him like he is there for so many of his teammates.

Harris remains extremely close to his high school coach, George Haas, and regularly talks basketball with him. His roommate and teammate, Latrell Fleming, is also one of Harris’ favorite people to talk strategy with.

Another surprising close friend of Harris’ is his high school associate principal. He explained they first met when he got into a little trouble back in the day, but, as his eyes sparkle and he chuckles a little, he says he would rather keep why he was in his office a mystery.

While most people know the talented sophomore is averaging 12.6 points per game and has led the team in scoring and rebounding eight games this season, many do not know about one of Harris’ little obsessions.

“Most people don’t know I have a little shoe fetish.”

He claims he has too many pairs of sneakers to count, but the number is well over 20 pairs.

His freshman protégé, Wade, also discloses the information that Harris is known to snore quite often as he has witnessed this many nights on the road this season.

While Harris is a friendly, easy to talk to guy, who is a normal student in many regards, he is definitely not a normal basketball player.

UW fans can only hope Harris can give the team more of his extra special confidence, motivation and impressive play so that the Badgers can have a chance to knock off an outstanding Kentucky Wildcat team.

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