Junior guard Will Harris has played his last game as a Cavalier. TheSabre.com confirmed with multiple sources that the junior forward has decided to transfer out of the Virginia program. Harris could not be reached for comment.
While his destination and reasons are unknown, Harris’ sudden departure isn’t altogether shocking considering the depth of Virginia’s roster and the strength of the incoming recruiting class, which could signal fewer minutes for the New York native.
A member of Leitao’s first recruiting class at Virginia, Harris showed the potential to break out as an offensive power for the Cavaliers. In his senior year of high school, Harris averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds despite battling prolonged injuries. In his first season (2006-07), Harris played in all 32 games for head coach Dave Leitao, but he played in just 15 games last season before being forced to sit out the rest of the season with a back injury. In the injury-shortened season, the 6’6″, 245-pound Harris averaged 2.7 pts and 2.5 rebounds per game in 9 minutes per game. Harris’ career-high 16 points came in 2006 in a win over Morgan State.
Harris played most of his minutes at the power forward position and added weight to his frame as part of a plan to be more effective at that slot. However, UVa is expected to return Jamil Tucker , who came on strong down the stretch last season, and Mike Scott, who started 21 games as a true freshman a year ago. Both of those players get most of their minutes at the PF position; Harris is in the same recruiting class as Tucker and one year ahead of Scott. That doesn’t account for senior Lars Mikalauskas, junior Jerome Meyinsse , or incoming recruits John Brandenburg and Assane Sene , all of whom could play the power forward spot in certain scenarios. Even if Harris shifted to the small forward position, minutes are tight there as well with Mamadi Diane , Solomon Tat , Sylven Landesberg , and others in the mix.
Harris’ decision to transfer adds another chapter to a winding road in his basketball career. While playing for Maine Central Institute, Harris signed with Nebraska in 2004, but asked for his release due to medical concerns with his mother. Nebraska declined the request so Harris opted not to graduate from Maine Central. He then enrolled at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire where he originally committed to Connecticut. Harris decided not to attend there either, though his Brewster coach Jason Smith said during his UVa recruitment that “the de-commitment from Connecticut really wasn’t his choice.”
Ultimately, Harris chose Virginia over heavy interest from Boston College, DePaul, Georgia, Miami, Providence, and Seton Hall. The Sabre asked Harris if the recruiting process had been tough when he committed in November 2005.
“Not really. I committed to Nebraska last year, but my mother’s health took a turn so I decided to stay close to home,” Harris said then. “About UConn, everything was fine when I committed. A few months later, they said they didn’t feel I was the right guy for the spot. I was happy they told me early, or else I wouldn’t have been able to make this decision. It wasn’t really a tough process for me, though. I tend to roll with everything. I take the punches as they come and move on.”
According to NCAA rules, Division I players must sit an entire season before competing for another Division I school. Under these rules, Harris would not be eligible to play until the 2009-2010 season.
Sabre Editor Kris Wright contributed to this article.