A lot to learn: Harris’ freshman year is filled with adjustments, new philosophies and lots of work

Brett Johnson, Sports Editor

For a normal student, the transition from high school to college can be difficult. It’s probably the first time away from home, they don’t know many people and the workload is increased tremendously. For a student-athlete, that transition can be even more overwhelming.

Thankfully, for freshman guard Eli Harris, the basketball season doesn’t start up until October, so he had about a month and a half to adjust to classes and work. But Harris quickly noticed that the physical demand is much greater at the collegiate level than the high school level.

“I really enjoy all the guys on the team which has kind of helped [the demand], and the two other freshmen, Will and Jenya, and I have gotten close, too, so that helps, too,” Harris said. “In regard to the actual season starting, it does pick up really fast when it actually does start.”

Harris, a biology major from Falmouth, Mass., has been playing basketball since he was in preschool and never imagined himself playing in college until his sophomore year in high school. He attended various camps before his second year, which made the reality of playing at the next level attainable. 

“I really found my love for the game,” Harris said.

The RWU “recruiting” process began during his senior year near the tail end of the fall AAU season at a tournament in Hanover, Mass. Assistant Coach Dan Weidmann first saw him play during that weekend, along with Assistant Coach Joshua Petersen. Harris and his mom visited RWU about a week later and met Head Coach Michael Tully.

Harris was also considering attending rival Commonwealth Coast Conference schools like University of New England, Nichols College and Endicott College, but decided to become a Hawk.

“I come from Cape Cod so I love the ocean and the ocean is right there so that’s kind of huge for me. I don’t ever want to leave the ocean,” Harris said. “Other than that, it kind of worked out being a biology major because the science department here is pretty good.”

To prepare for his freshman season, he worked with his trainer, Gus Adams, whom he’s worked with since the summer before his sophomore year of high school. Harris lifted four times a week and trained on the court three times a week.

 This season, Harris is playing off the bench, averaging 8.7 minutes a game as of Dec. 2, behind second-year guard Bryan Donovan. Coming into this year, he wasn’t expecting a starting position since he knew there was much to learn as a new member of the team.

“When you come into a new system… there’s a lot to learn, especially with our team, too. There are a lot of philosophical ideas you have to keep up with,” Harris said. “Even at this point, I don’t think I’d be prepared enough to play as much as I used to in high school.” 

Harris was a 1,000-point scorer in high school, and although he’s only scored 13 points so far this season, he plans on being a big scorer as he gets older.

“This year, I have to be smart and take shots when I should take them because older guys have been in the system and deserve shots as well, so I can’t disrupt the team rhythm,” Harris said.