COVINGTON, Ga. — For Armani Harris the last offer was the best offer.
Harris, a 6-foot-7 senior power forward from Newton took to Twitter Monday afternoon to share his commitment with Kennesaw State. The announcement comes eight days after Harris received a scholarship offer from the Owls, and just a couple of days after his official visit Friday.
During that time, Harris said he’d be looking to make his decision no later than Monday, and it turns out that the Kennesaw State official visit -- one of only three official visits he made during his recruiting journey -- may have been the icing on the cake.
"It's really a big relief to make this happen, because when I first started getting offers, I didn't really know where I wanted to go or when I wanted to commit," he said. "I started visiting schools unofficially just to see where I wanted to go. I took my three officials to Loyola Maryland, Stetson and Kennesaw, and all the schools had great vibes, but Kennesaw was just a way bigger vibe for me that I felt on that visit Friday."
In addition to Stetson and Loyola Maryland, Harris chose the Atlantic Sun Conference school over Alcorn State, Maryland Eastern-Shore, Presbyterian College and a host of Division II schools, and proximity to home and his family was cited as one of the school's biggest drawing cards.
"What I know from what I've seen is it's a family atmosphere throughout the whole school," he said. "And it's free education for me and at the end of the day, I'll be closer to my family. That's big for me because I'll want to make sure they're straight and they'll want to make sure I'm straight with me being so close."
The Owls will likely find place for Harris immediately, as they finished the 2018-19 season 6-26. Harris will provide the Owls a big with versatility. All but three of the 6-foot-7-plus players on KSU's roster are set to graduate after next season..
Harris averaged 19.7 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots per game for the Newton Rams in a senior campaign that saw the Rams make it to the Class AAAAAAA Sweet 16. It also turned out to be Newton head coach Rick Rasmussen’s last seas at the helm of the Newton program. Rasmussen announced earlier this month that he’d move on to take the job at North Oconee High.
Rasmussen shared his pride on seeing the last of his senior big three making his college selection sure.
"We are very excited for Armani and all the work he has put in for the past four years and beyond," Rasmussen said. "This is truly a dream realized for him. We are very proud of him. It will be really fun to come watch him play close to home."
Harris' pledge came just 10 days after Amir Abdur-Rahim was named KSU's new head coach. Recently, Abdur-Rahim's name surfaced in a college basketball corruption trial in New York, involving an alleged $11,000 payout to Texas A&M player Robert Williams. But according to an article from the Marietta Daily Journal, Kennesaw State is voicing continued support for its new coach.
One of Abdur-Rahim's first acts as the Owls' new head coach was reaching out to Harris.
"Coach Abdur-Rahim expressed interest in Armani as soon as he was named KSU's coach," Rasmussen said. "And Armani wanted to be close to home, so this really is the perfect fit."
As far as Harris is concerned, he said it meant the world to him to be so high on the new coach's priority list.
"That meant a lot to me to know that I'm going to be his first recruit," Harris said. "It was great. When we talked, it was basically about different situations on campus, the basketball program and what's going on on campus and how he wants the program to be. Being one of his first players, I'm really looking forward to going there and being the best I can at Kennesaw State University."
Harris has a 2.8 grade point average at Newton and is looking to double major in sports management and psychology.
"I'd like to become a sports therapist to help other athletes with their problems," he said. "The kind of person I am, I like to be there for other people and talk them through their different problems they may have as an athlete. Some of the same things I may have went through. Everybody needs somebody to talk to."