Tyler Harris played a critical role for Providence last season, and now looks to build upon his success in Rhode Island.
If you watched the Providence Friars last year, you would have grown accustomed to seeing the same starting five game-after-game. Bryce Cotton, Josh Fortune, LaDontae Henton, Kadeem Batts, and Tyler Harris started all 35 contests for the Friars. Coaches usually salivate at that kind of continuity, but for Ed Cooley’s team there was little choice. Early injuries and suspensions shortened their bench and saddled the remaining players with heavy workloads in terms of minutes and production.
Tyler Harris was one of the Friars who shouldered the increased responsibility with distinction.
Harris is a lanky, deceptively quick forward from Dix Hills, New York. The rising redshirt junior stands at 6’9″ and has a 223-pound frame with room for muscle. As a sophomore at Half Hollows High he played with his brother, current Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris. The Harris brothers led their team to a Long Island championship en route to an appearance in the New York State Class AA championship game. ESPN ranked the younger Harris as the nation’s 20th best power forward prospect after his senior season at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey. Harris would eventually commit to NC State and appear in 19 games for the Wolfpack as a true freshman.
Fate intervened (Divine Providence?) and Harris transferred to PC following his freshman year. After sitting out the 2012 – 2013 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Haris made an immediate and lasting impact on one of the most memorable Friar teams in recent memory. His game is a work in progress that shows flashes of greatness. With his size and length, Harris is able to block and contest shots while also grabbing his fair share of rebounds. He’s able to handle the ball reasonably well for a big man and has an outside shot that is steadily improving. The best part of Tyler’s game might be his ability to slash and cut to the hoop, often scoring or drawing fouls. He averaged a solid 12 points and 5 rebounds last year while shooting 43% from the field and a stellar 84% from the line.
The future of Tyler Harris is yet to be determined. He has bonafide NBA bloodlines, as not only his brother plays for the Orlando Magic but also his cousin, Channing Frye. Few people would argue that Harris needs to bulk up during the remainder of his collegiate career. Increased strength will help his inside positioning and rebounding while making him tougher on the defensive end. He also needs to become a more efficient player. Although his deep ball came on down the stretch last year, he averaged 32% from distance and committed 2.5 turnovers per game.
With room for growth and a solid foundation to build on, Tyler Harris is one of the more exciting players returning to the Big East this year. Harris acquitted himself well playing major minutes for a successful team last year, and will look to start improving upon that performance in a few short weeks. It will certainly be interesting to watch his development for Ed Cooley in Friartown.