Tobias Harris Q+A
With the NBA Draft only three days away, SLAM catches up with projected 1st rounder Tobias Harris.
by Franklyn Calle / @FrankieC7
One of the most intriguing players slated to have his name called in the first round of Thursday’s NBA Draft is Tobias Harris. The Dix Hills, NY native, who measured 6-8 and 228 pounds at the Chicago Draft Combine, is known for his versatility on the floor and ability to do a bit of everything. A class act on and away from the court, Harris will be one of the youngest players (maybe the youngest?) to get picked in the first round at only 18 years of age. The well-rounded forward can score on the post, handle the ball, hit jumpers off-the-dribble, catch-and-shoot, and has range as far as behind the arc. He also does a great job running the floor and finishing in transition.
Nicknamed “All-Business,” Harris’ lone season in Knoxville as a member of the Tennessee Volunteers saw it’s share of ups and downs and not necessarily what he envisioned when he announced his intentions of playing for Bruce Pearl at the ESPN Zone in Times Square live on ESPNU on November of 2009.
The former New York’s Mr. Basketball and ’09 McDonald’s All-American dealt with Pearl’s NCAA investigation and sanctions, and the media backlash the program received from it. The team’s performance on the court also took a hit. They went 19-15, losing eight of their last 12 games, including a 30-point blowout loss to Michigan in the first round to end their season.
Despite the team’s unimpressive performance, Harris raised eyebrows and held his own all season long. Averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, he showcased his broad skills set, high basketball IQ and top-notch work ethic.
And with the NBA Draft now just hours away, the soon-to-be-pro caught up with SLAM last week to speak on his pre-draft preparations and expectations, among other things.
SLAM: What was the ultimate factor that made you decide to leave Tennessee after your freshman year and enter the 2011 NBA Draft?
Tobias Harris: I just felt comfortable with my game and felt comfortable with how my workouts were going. At the end of the day, this is my dream to play in the NBA. And so I wanted to fulfill it. I just felt all around comfortable in everything. I just thought I was ready to go and take the lead into what I want to develop into in the NBA.
SLAM: Did you plan to only stay in college for one season or was this decision made after the season?
TH: The decision was made after the season. Going into Tennessee, I just told myself, just go and play as hard as I can, keep grinding, and not get too far concerned about being a one-and-done or being there for more than a year. The whole thing was just about coming in and playing hard – everything would work out.
SLAM: What teams have you worked out for so far?
TH: I’ve worked out for a lot of teams. The Spurs, Kings, Rockets, the Indiana Pacers, the Charlotte Bobcats, the Nuggets. It’s been a lot of teams. They’ve gone well though.
SLAM: Some people say you’re a small forward while others say you’re a power forward in the League. What position do you see yourself in the NBA?
TH: I would say I see myself as a small forward. I like to be around the perimeter and I like to make plays with the ball in my hands. So that’s why I see myself as a small forward. But at times I can play power forward if the team needs me to open up shots.
SLAM: What are some of the feedback you have gotten from coaches, scouts and trainers at the pre-draft workouts?
TH: They just saying they seen my body has trimmed down. That I’m looking good. That I’m very athletic. I’m a three. I’m very athletic and that I have a very great work ethic.
SLAM: As far a personal workouts, what is that training regimen looking like?
TH: Well, you know, since we’ve been traveling so much, the workouts when we have days is just getting in the gym and getting up shots. Get a good workout in but not a real crazy workout. And pretty much go from there. That’s why I’m just trying to keep my body right and my game sharp.
SLAM: When you go into these team workouts, what is it that you’re trying to show them and get them to notice about you?
TH: Ah, just show them my game. Each one of them scouts already know if you can play or not. So the whole thing is show them what I do, show them what they could get from me this year – my shooting abilities and that I’m a pure three.
SLAM: As far as projections, what are you hearing in terms of where you might end up getting picked up in the Draft?
TH: I don’t really focus on where I’m going to go. I’m just focus on getting on the team and making the best of whichever situation. Hopefully, I get on the right team with the right fit for me.
SLAM: Is there any team that you have wanted to play for growing up and maybe hoping that you could land there?
TH: I tell everybody that whichever team wants to pick me up, I’ll be happy of the opportunity to play for them. It doesn’t really matter to me which team I play for. I’ll be happy to play for any team.
SLAM: If you had to sum up you lone season at Tennessee, how would you describe the whole experience?
TH: It was a great year. There were a lot of adversities but it’s just going to drive me to get better and grow. It just drove me to keep my mind right, stay focus and work hard. So that’s just what I want to do.
SLAM: Is the lockout something that is of concern to you?
TH: Not really. When I entered the NBA Draft, I knew there was possibly going to be a lockout. So I’m not worried about it all. I’m just going to see what happens and we will go from there. You can’t really control things like that.
SLAM: What are some of things that they’ve put you through in the team workouts?
TH: We just do a lot of shooting. Two-on-two, three-on-three, one-on-one – they just want to see you play basically. So that’s what we do.
SLAM: What player do you watch the most or try assimilating your game to the most?
TH: I like to look at a player like Carmelo Anthony and what he does on the floor. I’ve brought a lot of those things in my game along with my scoring ability. So I look at a guy like that.
SLAM: If a GM was to ask you why he should draft you, what would you tell him?
TH: I’ll tell him to look at my work ethic, my winning attitude, ability to play, and just my overall approach for the game of basketball.
SLAM: Who’s been your biggest mentor or responsible for introducing you into basketball?
TH: My dad. He used to play basketball too. He put a basketball in my hand and I learned it from there. So he influenced me on the game.
SLAM: Would you say it’s a family thing then, considering your siblings?
TH: Yeah, definitely a family thing. My sister plays at St. John’s, my brother is going to N.C. State, and my younger brother is also going to be a player. We’re all working hard.