Over the past two years, Bryan Harris graduated from Southern High, completed a successful post-grad year at Massanutten (Va.) Military Academy, committed to Duquesne, parted ways with the Dukes after their coach was fired, signed with Wofford and then returned home to Maryland after the first semester of his freshman year.
“It seems like every day I’m waiting for something else to happen. It’s been a crazy process the last few years,” Harris said. “Everything is finally set now. I can just focus on school and basketball.”
The focus now for Harris, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound point guard, will be playing basketball and studying computer science at UMBC. He’ll join a 2013 Retrievers recruiting class that features three other in-state players in John Carroll guard Rodney Elliott, former Dulaney forward Will Darley and ex-Springbrook wing Charles Taylor.
Harris, who graduated from Southern in 2011 with no Division I scholarship offers, became a coveted mid-major recruit last spring thanks to a stellar post-grad run at Massanutten. Wofford, the Southern Conference champions in 2010 and 2011, offered Harris an excellent landing spot after Duquesne’s new coach went in a different direction.
But Harris’ time with the Terriers was fleeting. The day before his freshman season started, Harris said he started “having some heart troubles.” He was checked out by team physicians and underwent a surgery to remove an ablation – which is used to treat heart rhythm problems. Less than a month later, Harris continued having issues and was forced to have a second surgery.
Harris said he was later medically cleared by doctors, but his freshman season was essentially wiped out.
“Then also the style of play down there, it didn’t match what my game was,” Harris said. “I didn’t think when I committed that the style of play was like that.”
Harris left Wofford and was granted a medical redshirt. When he returned to Maryland, he received inquiries from UMBC, Hofstra, Cleveland State, Houston Baptist and Longwood.
“Originally, we were going to wait until after the season and then start talking to schools,” said Harris, who will be eligible to play immediately as a freshman. “[But] I felt like it was a good fit with UMBC, even before I tried to talk to other schools.”
Harris said he has known UMBC coach Aki Thomas for years. He liked the idea of staying close to home and leading the Retrievers back up the America East standings with other former Baltimore-area high school stars. Harris was also impressed with UMBC’s style of play under Thomas.
“A lot of ball screens for the point guard,” he said. “I’ll be playing the point. Just ball screens, attack and kick, getting up and down. Wofford was more like … running through the sets. It was really a halfcourt game. UMBC is more up-tempo.”
Harris said his time away from the game serves as motivation for him. He’s thankful for his health, and thankful for the opportunity to play for a program “on the way up” in UMBC.
“It was kind of like a no-brainer,” Harris said. “They got a new coach and they’re bringing in a lot of change with it. I liked what they were saying.”