Tobias Harris: Family already

During recruiting, top signee reached out to Tony Jones

Tobias Harris plays during a game last season for Lutheran High School of Long Island, N.Y. Tobias, who is now at Half Hollow
Hills West in Glen Head, N.Y., signed with Tennessee in November.

Photo by NEWYORK DAILY NEWS

Tobias Harris plays during a game last season for Lutheran High School of Long Island, N.Y. Tobias, who is now at Half Hollow Hills West in Glen Head, N.Y., signed with Tennessee in November.

Harris

Harris

Tobias Harris had the collegiate basketball world at his feet throughout the throes of the recruiting season.

The coaches calling and visiting Harris read like a Hall of Fame induction list: Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino, Bob Huggins and Jim Calhoun.

There was also a trip to visit John Calipari at Kentucky's Big Blue Madness at the official start of the fall basketball practice.

"I thought about all of it,'' said Harris, the No. 1-rated high school power forward in the nation according to Rivals.com. "It came down to the coach that I felt really had my best interests at heart as a player and as a person.''

And that was Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl.

But it wasn't the simple matter of Pearl and the Vols making the 6-foot-8, 215-pound Harris from Half Hollow Hills West High in Glen Head, N.Y., feel a part of their family.

"No, he made us feel special, too, and that's the kind of quality person we're getting,'' UT associate head coach Tony Jones said. "Let me show you something I'm going to keep on this phone forever.''

Jones scrolled down his Blackberry to a text message dated Aug. 19 - the day his father was found murdered in Detroit.

It was a text, from Harris, offering condolences and spiritual well-wishing.

Then, another, dated Aug. 22: Harris told Jones he was dedicating the MVP award he won at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 tournament in New York City to Jones' father.

"When we say Tobias is special, we're not just talking basketball,'' Jones said. "Tennessee fans are going to absolutely love him.''

Harris said the Vols were always at the top of his list, but he held his cards close to his vest.

"You get a lot of calls, people wanting you to come, but you have to control the situation,'' said Harris, who appears poised to take over for current UT senior Tyler Smith. "You can't let it get over your head, and you've got to be true to yourself and know where you want to go.''

Harris took part in UT's elite skills camp in June and visited campus again the second weekend in October when the UT football team routed Georgia.

He admits Syracuse had the lure of being closer to home, but he also revealed that Knoxville somehow found a special place in his heart.

"I really liked Syracuse, but Tennessee has such a great atmosphere,'' Harris said. "It felt more like home, just with my (future) teammates and the campus. I don't think I'll miss home when I'm there.''

Harris felt so strongly about the Vols that he and his father drove up from Atlanta, after taking a visit to Georgia Tech, to watch UT defeat UNC Asheville on Tuesday night.

The idea was to get a "real" look at UT's basketball program, without the red carpet being rolled out.

"It made me realize I really wanted to go there,'' Harris said. "It was just the way Tennessee played and what Tyler was doing on the floor - it was the same things I'll be doing.''

Harris signed the next day and announced his decision live on ESPNU on Thursday.

It was a historical moment for Tennessee basketball, as Harris is the highest-rated prospect the program has ever signed.

"Not since Stu Aberdeen went and recruited Bernard King have we had a Northeast prospect like this,'' Pearl said. "We knew at some point we were going to loser Tyler, and so we've been recruiting Tobias for a couple of years.

"This wouldn't have happened without Tony Jones, and Tobias researched his decision thoroughly.''

Pearl said many schools recruiting against Tennessee told Harris the Vols didn't have many players in the NBA (two).

"He's a top-five kid who picked a top-20 school,'' Pearl said. "But he came to Knoxville and saw how our players go hard, play unselfishly and improve.

"It's why we have the top strength program, the best trainers and assistant coaches because we want all of our players to get better.''

Harris said he's not concerned about any added pressure or attention his arrival at UT may generate.

"I'm just going to come in and play my game and work hard to get to where I can be,'' Harris said. "I know I'll be ready for college.''

Harris said he'll enroll in the first term of summer school, as will point guard Trae Golden (McEachern Ga., High School) and shooting guard Jordan McRae (Liberty County, Ga., High School).

"I've heard about the summer (Pilot Rocky Top League) and all of the guys that play in it,'' Harris said. "I plan on playing in it. It sounds like fun.''

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Comments » 42

UTByrd writes:

Welcome to the great state of Tennessee and the "Pearl of the South" hoops team. Looking forward to your time at UT.
Go VOLS!!!!!

DownTheField writes:

Welcome Tobias!

Skullz_VOL writes:

Incredible. The future looks bright! Good job Bruce and co. Welcome Tobias.

rockytopatl writes:

Tobias Harris of the Volunteers! That sounds good even without John Ward saying it.

OMike writes:

Does anyone know if game tonight is televised? Thanks

newportvol writes:

in response to OMike:

Does anyone know if game tonight is televised? Thanks

sports south!

cdonsbach writes:

in response to OMike:

Does anyone know if game tonight is televised? Thanks

It should be on Fox Sports South.

OMike writes:

Thanks CD

DownTheField writes:

in response to marc_ash#231781:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

agreed... the staff will need to do a good job reminding those freshman of this very thing

what's the deal you have with Voice?

Ironcity writes:

in response to marc_ash#231781:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

marc, I know your ticked at VOR but you shouldn't go down to his level. Anyone who spends most of his time pumping himself on message boards needs to be ignored. He may or may not have some contacts but no one really cares because he is so full of himself. Keep giving us your insights and don't get so fired up about wannabes.

amorris2#223382 writes:

Every article keeps stating he is the highest rated prospect we have ever signed. He is rated between 5th and 9th, depending on the service. Just two years ago, Scotty Hopson was rated around #5 by at least one service, and Vincent Yarbrough was actually rated as high as #3. Anyway, regardless, this is huge for the Vols because of the need and where he comes from. It should make TN a true player in national recruiting for as long as BP graces us with his presence.

bosscat writes:

One of the best "feel good" stories from this was how the current players were so excited about Harris's decision to come to Tennessee.

Bigger_Al writes:

I am so stoked about this! More stoked than for a football commit, because it would take 5 football commits of this caliber to have the same impact on a football team as Tobias will have on our Hoops team.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amen!

murrayvol writes:

I doubt that Pearl will face any off court "issues" with Tobias.

As someone said earlier, I think he's here for 3 years....and that's a good thing.

chad_t31 writes:

I'm stumped. Who do we have on an NBA roster besides CJ Watson?

chad_t31 writes:

in response to marc_ash#231781:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That's what I thought but the article said we had 2. Wanted to make sure I wasn't missing someone.

DownTheField writes:

in response to chad_t31:

That's what I thought but the article said we had 2. Wanted to make sure I wasn't missing someone.

what about vincent yarbrough?

chad_t31 writes:

in response to DownTheField:

what about vincent yarbrough?

I don't think he ever made it. Did I read something a while ago about marcus haislip making a comeback?

bUTchVFL writes:

Glad to welcome you into the Big Orange family.

jowebb15#441937 writes:

Haislip is at San Antonio

volsftw1535 writes:

great article

Ringside writes:

Sounds like a win/win for everyone involved.
Welcome to UT Mr. Harris.

LEXKYVOLS writes:

Here we go!

we3vols#281863 writes:

in response to OMike:

Does anyone know if game tonight is televised? Thanks

Game is NOT on Fox Sports South. Game is on Fox College Sports. Your listing guide is FCSP. Hope this will help. Go Vols!
In Chatanooga (Comcast Cable) must have Sports Package only $5 per month (Not any other Fox Station).

OwensboroVol writes:

Son I won't even admit how long its been since I showed up on the hill for my first quarter (UT was on the Quarter system back then). I'll just tell you to slow down and enjoy the opportunity your athletic ability has presented you. Basketball is important, but the school has so very much more to offer and I think you are the type of kid who will build a lifetime of experiences on campus. Welcome and remember that wearing that orange shirt carries a lot of responsibilities and pride. Wear it with honor.

ccVOLSdhf writes:

in response to we3vols#281863:

Game is NOT on Fox Sports South. Game is on Fox College Sports. Your listing guide is FCSP. Hope this will help. Go Vols!
In Chatanooga (Comcast Cable) must have Sports Package only $5 per month (Not any other Fox Station).

Yes I'm in Nashville and was looking for the game on (Charter). Everyone has said fox sports net but it's not showing up on the regular FSN channel that you get with basic cable. It says its on fox sports net PACIFIC, thats included in the sports package of channels Again $5 to add I did so before the memphis game over the phone in 8 minutes. For espnu also included.....GBO..FB&BB

newtonrail writes:

in response to marc_ash#231781:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Marc, You are in Chattanooga and I'm in Cleveland, so we have a nice drive up. There are several times I've given my football or BB seat numbers to certain anonymous dodos on this board. They aren't going to show. It just "ain't going to happen".

newtonrail writes:

in response to ccVOLSdhf:

Yes I'm in Nashville and was looking for the game on (Charter). Everyone has said fox sports net but it's not showing up on the regular FSN channel that you get with basic cable. It says its on fox sports net PACIFIC, thats included in the sports package of channels Again $5 to add I did so before the memphis game over the phone in 8 minutes. For espnu also included.....GBO..FB&BB

Charter in Cleveland is 306 FCS in Sports Tier. I finally got it because of ESPNU for Kentucky game. Also in case I don't go to the few home games they cover on men's and women's BB. That tier on Charter does cover some FB and BB games you can't get anywhere else. $5 a month isn't that bad.

rockytopman writes:

Sounds like CBP and staff not only have a great baller coming in, but also a great kid. Welcome to Big Orange Country, Tobias.

dowhatsright writes:

Great story. Tobias sounds like a fine young man. Welcome!

PoochPuntOn3rdDown writes:

Great article about an outstanding human being, and basketball player. Jim Boheim normally gets guys like Tobias. Think of all of the forwards he has sent to the NBA. This is a real coup for Pearl and I was astonished that Tobias chose Tennessee. Along with Golden and McRae this is already the best class that Tennessee has ever signed. Bruce and Co. will add one, maybe two more players and TN will re-load next year.

So, all the negative posters on this site and the other one, (especially the one that claims to have driven off Fulmer, and is "trying" to do the same thing to Pearl) can no longer say, "Pearl and his staff can't recruit". He can and did, and will continue to do so.

I've said before that I'm glad Pearl and Co. lost Selby. Selby is a major recruiting violation waiting to happen. I hope Harris signing with the Vols does not bring him back into the picture. He can go wear his Nikes in Europe which is where he may be playing next year if the rumors of recruiting improprieties I have heard are true.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey Catscratch..Nice to hear from you..I see the cats won pretty convincingly last night, by 27 points...I hope you you are right about Harris Not being a one and done!!!! Have a great night!!! I'm gonna watch the game after while!!!

tubavol writes:

He is unique because he actually has his father in his life.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to chad_t31:

I'm stumped. Who do we have on an NBA roster besides CJ Watson?

I think he might be the only one for the time being...But that is fixing to change.

Fryinpansvols writes:

This is very exciting to get a great kid like this to come to our program. Hopefully this will pave the way for more to come. Props to Coach Jones and all of UT's staff for their efforts. I'm so glad we have Coach Pearl as our Head Coach, man he has rebuilt this program! Watch out College Basketball UT is coming hard! GBO!

RJ_Vol writes:

Glad to have Harris here!

Ironcity writes:

in response to Pablopeepants:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

People hire these guys because they are proven winners. They may cheat but for the most part they are good at not getting caught. Tark, Calipari Valvano was another turned average programs into powerhouses and managed to get out (or in the case of Valvano die) before trouble hit. The other two you mentioned were also successful until they got caught. There is a lot of money in college basketball and some schools can't afford to be second tier (UK). For those teams the risk well worth taking. In the case of UK based on their present recruiting, its worked so far.

I will stick with what we have which is a coach that has been successful doing it the right way.

Based on the game tonight I guess Hopson isn't going to shoot 75% for year. Its good to see us win a game that did not go at all the way we wanted it to.

vol_chaz writes:

This kid is really needed, and glad he's a vol. Tyler's role this year looks like option #2 or #3, so for Tobias to watch and see what he's getting into, and still choose us, is impressive. Alot of players don't want to play D the way we do. BTW, great win over Depaul.

caverunner writes:

Welcome to Big Orange Country! GO VOLS!!!

jhayes1911 writes:

in response to chad_t31:

I don't think he ever made it. Did I read something a while ago about marcus haislip making a comeback?

Haislip has been over seas dominating in the best league in Spain getting tax free millions. He is now playing for the Spurs...

OwensboroVol writes:

IronCity-I can tell you that in Kentucky the attitude right now is that Calipari has never done anything wrong. Another words denial. They want another Championship so bad that I believe they are willing to take another 2-3 years on probation to get it. Kentucky fans have no pride in doing things the right way, when it comes to Basketball anyway. That is what makes Harris such a great Kid, there is no telling what he refused from Calipari to sign with Tennessee.

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