Tobias Harris 'sad, but also excited' about decision to leave Tennessee basketball

Tennessee forward Tobias Harris dunks the ball on a breakaway play against Florida during the second round of the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga., Friday, March 11, 2011.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee forward Tobias Harris dunks the ball on a breakaway play against Florida during the second round of the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga., Friday, March 11, 2011.

Freshman All-American Tobias Harris said Friday he’s “sad but also excited” to announce he’s leaving his name in the NBA draft pool and will not return to Tennessee for his sophomore season.

“Ever since I was little, it has been my dream to play in the NBA,’’ said Harris, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward. “I’ll always remember how great the fans, coaches and teachers were to me at Tennessee, and I hope they’ll remember me as a player who gave his all each and every day.’’

Underclassmen have until midnight on Sunday to withdraw from the draft. The Vols are waiting to learn what junior All-SEC shooting guard Scotty Hopson will decide. Hopson will work out this weekend before 25 to 30 teams at a combine-like event at the New Jersey Nets practice facility.

“I really didn’t make my decision until (Thursday) night after I went to church for National Prayer Day to pray about it,’’ said Harris, who prior to coming to UT was a McDonald’s All-American high school player at Half Hollow Hills West in Dix Hills, N.Y. “I feel the Lord guided me to Tennessee, and now he’s led me in this direction.’’

“(UT) Coach (Cuonzo) Martin was one of the reasons I’d been thinking about staying,’’ said Harris, who attended spring workouts.

Harris has worked out for select NBA teams the past couple of weeks and said he’s in the best shape he has ever been in.

Harris is projected to be selected No. 16 in the first round (Philadelphia) by Draftexpress.com and No. 19 in the first round (Charlotte) by NBADraft.net.

NBA first-round picks receive guaranteed contracts, but second-round picks do not.

Harris was second at UT with 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, and he shot 46 percent from the floor, 30.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 75.3 percent from the free-throw line.

Former Vols coach Bruce Pearl said it will be a proud and important moment for UT when Harris’ name gets called during the NBA draft on June 23.

“It’s very important in recruiting and in the development of a program to show your program can get guys drafted,’’ said Pearl, who was fired in March. “Tobias was one of the top 10 freshmen in the country as a prospect and he certainly played like it. We anticipated he would be here for a couple of years, but circumstances changed for him.

“But the big thing is that Tennessee will be able to say to recruits that this is a place where you can develop and grow and realize your full potential.’’

Chicago Bulls guard C.J. Watson is the only former UT player in the NBA. UT’s most recent draft picks are Marcus Haislip (13th by Milwaukee) and Vincent Yarbrough (second round by Denver) in 2002.

“(Harris) had a great freshman season, but more importantly he also conducts himself in all the right ways off the court,’’ Martin said in a UT release. “I absolutely loved working with him, over the past several weeks. He’ll always be a Tennessee Volunteer, and just like every other former player, we’re always here for him. He’s part of the family.”

Harris’ departure leaves the Vols short on size; juniors Kenny Hall (6-8) and Jeronne Maymon (6-7) are the only returning interior players. Renaldo Woolridge (6-9) is a converted small forward.

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Comments » 105

Munsterlander writes:

Bummer, but good luck to Tobias.

Loud_Proud writes:

Unbeliveable. Not technically, but figuratively speaking.

hep writes:

I wish him the best, he's a great representative of the university.

huntined#565710 writes:

It was expected and I wish him well. He is a great player and person so all we can do is say thanks for being a VOL..

dlobh writes:

No great surprise. Hope this works out for his best. Good luck in the NBA, and GBO!

Smokey91 writes:

Thanks for a great season. enjoyed watching you play in the orange and white. you carried yourself well and should have a great career at the next level.

volahoma writes:

Tobias, if you are reading, it was a joy to watch and cheer for you. You made us so much better. I'll root for you in the NBA.

God's Speed and come back to visit.

Go Big Orange!

Outdated writes:

in response to Smokey91:

Thanks for a great season. enjoyed watching you play in the orange and white. you carried yourself well and should have a great career at the next level.

I feel the same and will follow the progress of Tobias in the NBA..

VolunteerLifer writes:

Good luck to Tobias. I thank him for all of the hard work and terrific performance that he put into our program. Although I hate to lose him, a consolation is that we have a good one to represent us in the NBA.

ZacharyUTK writes:

Good luck, buddy! You'll be a star!

OwensboroVol writes:

Another great effort by the Weasel's new coach. Tobias would have stayed at least one more year if Bruce was still the coach. At this rate, losing Tobias and Hopson, and recruiting the type of players we are, Tennessee should be able to compete with Bearden, Fulton, and maybe even South Doyle High Schools!!!!!!!!!FIRE THE WEASEL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!

keithknoxvol writes:

in response to volahoma:

Tobias, if you are reading, it was a joy to watch and cheer for you. You made us so much better. I'll root for you in the NBA.

God's Speed and come back to visit.

Go Big Orange!

I agree, it was great watching him play in the orange and white. He will rep Tn well in the NBA. Wishing him nothing but the best.
VFL

Bigger_Al writes:

Good luck Tobias!

LJS1984 writes:

I just hope that Tobias and Scotty enjoy learning. Learning things overseas (languages, culture, being away from family, etc.) are much tougher than Chemistry or Biology. Maybe they will realize this before they make a deal with the devil? Look at all the big time players that come out of college and never make it to the NBA. Tennessee has had a few in Wayne Chism, Chris Lofton, Tony Harris, Vincent Yarbrough, etc. I'm not sure that Scotty or Tobias are on even on those guys level yet? Good luck guys.

STstatefarmVOLS writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

Another great effort by the Weasel's new coach. Tobias would have stayed at least one more year if Bruce was still the coach. At this rate, losing Tobias and Hopson, and recruiting the type of players we are, Tennessee should be able to compete with Bearden, Fulton, and maybe even South Doyle High Schools!!!!!!!!!FIRE THE WEASEL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!

Right, cause you were OBVIOUSLY in Tobias's head when he decided that he was going to the NBA "because Bruce is not there anymore". I have an idea, since you don't like the coach, maybe you should stick to watching Bearden, Fulton, and maybe even South Doyle High Schools play basketball and stay away from UT......And recruiting the types of players we are is what is going to make us strong in the future. There is no way Martin was going to be able to come in and recruit the top players in the country this late in the game, if you think so you obviously know NOTHING about college basketball or recruiting.

orangeman1 writes:

Man, I hope Scotty comes back because he would get the chance to be the star of the team, but I would think he will go pro too even if its in Europe making good money.

Col26ca writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

Another great effort by the Weasel's new coach. Tobias would have stayed at least one more year if Bruce was still the coach. At this rate, losing Tobias and Hopson, and recruiting the type of players we are, Tennessee should be able to compete with Bearden, Fulton, and maybe even South Doyle High Schools!!!!!!!!!FIRE THE WEASEL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!

Please engage brain before typing. As much as I enjoyed Bruce, he is not the be all end all of Tennessee Basketball. CCM will do well and I hope do so with the after effects of Bruce, Cal or Kelvin. Let's stay classy and win that way too. Act like you have been there. I'm a Kentuckian by birth and HS education and by the grace of God got a UT education that is more important to me than basketball or football wins. Love the sport and the players and realize that the coaches are the hired hands and that they will fail sometimes. But our blood will always be Orange just like those that play the game for us. To end I lived in St. Louis when Conzo was in HS at EStl Lincoln, he was a class kid then and has stayed that way. I will let him have my back in any situation and would advise you to do the same. As to the person you refer to as The Weasel, don't let it eat on you and I have had an old HS classmate (UK grad) offer to trade us their AD Barnhart and 2 freshman roundballers for The Weasel. Let it play out and relax. If you make it to the derby tommorrow says hi to some of my relatives they are running in the pre-derby races.

dlukinbeck writes:

Tobias. We will miss you. Thanks for rockin out in a turbulent season. You've already got a fanbase wherever u end up in the NBA. Best of luck!

brokebackvol writes:

Good Luck Tobias

37934 writes:

Good Luck Tobias and God Speed. Thanks for your hard work and class. Watching you play was a 'bright spot' this year. Looking forward to pulling for you in the NBA.

dwa7#337691 writes:

Tobias Harris

All business.......
all the time....... represented UT well

RockyTop1_old writes:

Should have stayed....I do wish him well! GBO, VFL!!

dlukinbeck writes:

For real business... All business

hallsguy writes:

Best of luck to this young man.My counsel would be to stay and he has til Sunday to change his mind.

dvols writes:

hmmmmmm....

gbeejr#1354500 writes:

in response to LJS1984:

I just hope that Tobias and Scotty enjoy learning. Learning things overseas (languages, culture, being away from family, etc.) are much tougher than Chemistry or Biology. Maybe they will realize this before they make a deal with the devil? Look at all the big time players that come out of college and never make it to the NBA. Tennessee has had a few in Wayne Chism, Chris Lofton, Tony Harris, Vincent Yarbrough, etc. I'm not sure that Scotty or Tobias are on even on those guys level yet? Good luck guys.

I agree with you. I'm no expert either but we all know Scotty's game is too inconsistent. I read where Tobias is undoubtedly NBA ready now, but I don't see it. He excelled this year with more blue collar work than pure NBA talent. If either player can make the NBA I think it will be short lived. That said, good luck to both and make they make millions.

BxVol writes:

Wishing you all the best Tobias.With your work ethic I know you will be successful both on and off the court.

MikeInTN writes:

Best of luck!! Hope you go the the Grizzles.

RoadTrip writes:

I doubt Coach Zo will go out of his way to recruit one and dones. If one happens it will be because they want to play for him and the Vols.

Grab the bucks and invest in a trainer/mentor that can prepare you for playing the 3 in the league. Thanks for the memories and good luck.

Einstein writes:

Hate to see Tobias go. Good luck Tobias. Mike Hamilton, this one is on you also. FIRE MIKE HAMILTON AND JIMMY CHEEK.

VOLliven2it writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

Another great effort by the Weasel's new coach. Tobias would have stayed at least one more year if Bruce was still the coach. At this rate, losing Tobias and Hopson, and recruiting the type of players we are, Tennessee should be able to compete with Bearden, Fulton, and maybe even South Doyle High Schools!!!!!!!!!FIRE THE WEASEL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!

You are talking big now Owensboro. You have no idea what the team this fall will be and absolutely NO CLUE about the new head coach. If Bruce stayed Tobias and Scotty would not have enjoyed probation and all the other wonderful accrutrements from NCAA slam. But as for your last statement, FIRE THE WEASEL, I agree completely.

knoxville_born writes:

"One and done" players are starting to make me dislike college basketball. I'm no Dick Vitale fan, but I think he's about the NBA hurting the college game with their rule that players must be one year removed from high school. They should change that to 2 years or go back to drafting out of high school.

Vol_Tilladye writes:

Good riddance Tobias. You'll be playing in Turkey in 2 years. Have fun. People would give their right arm for a scholarship for a college education.

knoxville_born writes:

^^^^^
I also think it's funny that I can't type Vitale's commonly used first name on this board.

Vol_Tilladye writes:

Coach Zo better be getting some good recruits or our basketball will be looking like our football... and Mike Hammy will still be AD.

Why Hamilton is still employed at UT is beyond me. The whole athletic program collapsed on his watch!

Franktown writes:

So Pearl can finally say he had a player drafted by the NBA.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Please change your mind!? Please please pleasepeaspesaspeaseapae!
Serioisly I hope you have a great pro career! God bless.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to WildcatsOne:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Vols,

Take note.............the troll has spoken.
You just knew as soon as a classy Vol turned pro after 1 season, the home of the one and dones would be here beating his gums.

Wildcat one.........a genuine blue blooded troll.

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

Figured that was coming. As for Scotty I think he saw Coach Martin was going to make him work harder to keep his spot on the court and playing full time is not in his reportoire.
Good Luck to both of you . Now let's play some team basketball!

SummittsCourt writes:

This news SUCKS!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to TNORANGEDOGDAD:

Figured that was coming. As for Scotty I think he saw Coach Martin was going to make him work harder to keep his spot on the court and playing full time is not in his reportoire.
Good Luck to both of you . Now let's play some team basketball!

Scotty isn't for sure gone...but if he does come back I hope he learns good team ball. If he goes pro I hope he learns to be a pro and has a great impact.

give_him_6 writes:

Good luck Tobias. It was a pleasure watching you play this season. We'll miss you young man!!

Slystone writes:

If I were a McDonalds AA and read the things said on here about Tobias or Scotty I'd have reservations about wanting to be at UT. Show some love a little. Everyone makes decisions in life. Some good, some bad. Either way I wish them both much success.

VOL1972 writes:

Scotty is gone. Now so is Tobias -- both five star recruits. So are the two 4 star recruits Pearl had signed. Martin has replaced them with one 3 star and trying to sign a couple of more three stars.

I think I see a trend.

TheStupidPolice writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

Another great effort by the Weasel's new coach. Tobias would have stayed at least one more year if Bruce was still the coach. At this rate, losing Tobias and Hopson, and recruiting the type of players we are, Tennessee should be able to compete with Bearden, Fulton, and maybe even South Doyle High Schools!!!!!!!!!FIRE THE WEASEL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!

Stupid!

TheStupidPolice writes:

in response to MrFinch:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sir, you being put on notice. Please refrain from making such stupid comments. Do you really believe that Tobias Harris would not fit in CCM's system? C'mon man!

kazoo writes:

Stupid move. Harris is not ready for the NBA--clearly needs at least one more year, but like so many, his family and agent can't wait to get their hands on his cash. Unfortunately, that's usually what drives these decisions--family greed and some agent selling a player a bill of goods. He would have been a top 5 pick next year, probably.

murrayvol writes:

May not be what Vol fans would prefer but if he's projected in the top 20 picks he should go.

Best wishes.

stormblast writes:

in response to WildcatsOne:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If this is you being funny, it's really a good one.

Vol_Tilladye writes:

I hope Tobias learns Turkish because that's where he'll be playing ball. Then he'll return to the US without a free college degree and will be working at CarMax.

Good Luck Tobias! Thanks for being a Vol!

Thanks AD Hamilton for your vigilant watch of athletics at UT. We're much better off under your professionalism. You are the best. I've never seen UT Sports in such a successful prideful atmosphere. You jerk!

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