It was the next-to-last time he’ll don the number 21, at least on the high school level. And it was the next-to-last time he’d get the chance to make plays and memories with fellow senior teammate Tre Clark.
Harris and Clark both were in Brunswick Saturday playing for the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association’s senior all-star game, and both Harris and Clark played as they had for the entire 2018-19 season — as two of the best high school prospects in the state.
Harris poured in 28 points and grabbed 10 boards on his way to being earning GACA All-Star game MVP honors. Clark, a VCU commit, wasn’t shabby, chipping in 22 points and eight assists of his own as the Newton duo helped the North squad to a 130-119 victory.
Sports editor Gabriel Stovall got the chance to chat with Harris about everything from his Brunswick experience, the things he’ll miss most about his time at Newton and where he’s at with the recruiting process and his time table for making a decision.
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Alcorn State: An Historically Black College and University that competes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Braves finished the 2018-19 season with a 10-21 mark overall and a 6-12 record in the conference which was good enough for seventh place.
Loyola Maryland University: The school where Harris will visit Tuesday. The Greyhounds compete in the Patriot League and finished this season.
Maryland Eastern-Shore: The Hawks ended the 2018-19 campaign with a 7-25 overall mark and 5-11 record in the Mideastern Conference.
Presbyterian College: A member of the Big South Conference, the Blue Hose qualified for the postseason after finishing fifth in conference play. Presbyterian is currently competing in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
ARMANI HARRIS: “The experience was fun. I recognized some of those guys’ faces from games I’ve played against them or played with them, and I just had fun playing hard. Playing with Tre is always fun. We have a connection that most players don’t have. We talked about how we have one last all-star game together, and that’s the Newton vs. Rockdale one coming up. It’s going to be fun, but sad, because that’s our last game together.”
STOVALL: You’ve only got maybe one more opportunity to slip on that Newton jersey. Is it a surreal feeling for you to know that your high school career is winding down? What have been your range of emotions during these last couple of months?
HARRIS: “My range of emotions has been the same these last couple of months. I know that I have to keep working to close out and move on to the next chapter, but the feeling of not playing in that Newton jersey kind of hurts a lot. Especially because all of the support and love from everyone was surreal. Newton County has been a great home to me. I’m going to miss everything.”
STOVALL: Of course everybody wants to know about where you’re headed. What would you say is your top 3 or 5 schools right now? What are you looking for in a school and how close are you to making that decision?
HARRIS: “Yeah, that’s the question I’ve been getting a lot lately. ‘Who are you committing to, or when are you going to commit?’ I’m still undecided, and I’ve been weight my options to see where I can play ball, get an education and find a new home with a great group of guys. I have some visits lined up on the way. I take an official visit to Loyola Maryland on Tuesday. I don’t really have a top three because I’m open to all. Who knows? Anyone can come in and change my mind about anything. I will say that my decision will be soon though. Probably around mid April, if not the end of April.”
STOVALL: What has being at Newton taught you and how has it prepared you for the next level, wherever you choose to go?
HARRIS: “Newton High School and the basketball program has taught me a lot about how to grow as a better young man and become more mature with my situations. I didn’t take any of those situations on playing in those games serious when I was a freshman and a sophomore, but I learned from my mistakes and it made me into the young talent that I am today. I also learned from the basketball program that coaches are tough at the next level, so you have to be tough to survive those environments. They are going to get on you and you might not always like what they say to you, but you have to take all that in to become a better player and young adult.”
STOVALL: What’s been your biggest highlight and toughest challenge while at Newton?
HARRIS: “I say my biggest highlight at Newton was when I dropped 39 against Lambert. I say that’s the biggest highlight because it was a lot of hype around that game and Colin Granger. A lot of people were telling me to be worried about him and that team, but tables turned, and he was the person that had to be worried and me and my team, and I just wanted to make a name for myself and my team in the state.
“I’ll say I abused me (laugh). The toughest challenge, I would have to say, is taking on the leadership role for a young core this year. I love all these guys and, you know, we went through a whole lot of obstacles in the beginning, but we dug it out and overcame those obstacles toward the end of the year.”
STOVALL: Finally, you’ve seen several of your former teammates like Isaiah (Miller) and Ashton (Hagans) do big things on the college level and even in the NCAA tournament. How cool is it to see those guys and know you played with them, and how does it motivate you to be successful in college next year?
HARRIS: “It’s great to see those guys playing. You know, those two are like family. I talk to them every other day, especially about my recruitment and what should I do to get myself better for the next level. Seeing those guys be in that tournament motivates me to try and take a college of my choice to the NCAA Tournament. Especially going to college to see how far I can elevate my game. I feel like all of that can become one big special period in my life. I’m just excited to see what the future has in store for me.”