College Hoops

UVA Men’s Basketball | Harris Putting Extra Time to Good Use

UVA Men's Basketball | Harris Putting Extra Time to Good Use

Virginia plays two point guards regularly. Kihei Clark, a fifth-year senior, is in his final season of eligibility, and junior Reece Beekman is drawing interest from NBA teams. Two high school seniors signed with the Hoos in November, but neither is a point guard. And so Harris has filled a critical hole.

โ€œIโ€™m always thinking about what UVA needs,โ€ Staples said. โ€œThat never changes. In this situation, I did realize that Kihei was leaving and thought it might be a great opportunity for Dante. I didnโ€™t know what they had in the burner, what was going on, so I only reached out initially to say, โ€˜What are you guys looking for, for next year?โ€™ And then our conversations led to what their needs were.โ€

Staples proved crucial in the process, Bennett said. โ€œYou feel good when you know someone and you can say, โ€˜Tell us about this young man. Tell us about his game. You coached him, youโ€™ve been around him through everything. Can you validate certain things?โ€™ And of course you do all your homework, but that helped out a lot, and thatโ€™s great, when someone from the Virginia basketball family can help you out.โ€

Harris, who has relatives in D.C. and Fredericksburg, didnโ€™t take long to pick a new school.

โ€œIt was kind of a no-brainer,โ€ he said. โ€œVirginiaโ€™s one of the top programs in the nation. Who wouldnโ€™t want to go here, honestly?โ€

Harris enrolled at UVA this month with three seasons of eligibility remaining. (The NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to basketball players who competed during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21.) Harris wonโ€™t play for the Cavaliers this season, but he practices and travels with the team, and heโ€™s learning Bennettโ€™s trademark Pack Line deffense.

โ€œIt was a blessing, honestly,โ€ Harris said, โ€œto be able to come in midseason and actually practice and get started with my classes, get ahead, not worry about playing right now. I can focus on my academics, so thatโ€™s big as well.โ€

Still, he said, โ€œI donโ€™t think Iโ€™ve ever had a season where I didnโ€™t participate. Itโ€™s kind of hard when Iโ€™m watching them play. I just canโ€™t wait to be out there.โ€

Virginiaโ€™s scout team is known as the Green Machine, and Harris has made a strong group even more formidable. Other players in green pinnies include freshmen Isaac Traudt and Leon Bond III, senior Chase Coleman and graduate assistant Isaiah Wilkins, a former UVA standout.

โ€œThatโ€™s scary,โ€ Bond said with a smile when…

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