By Tom Ballato
Eron Harris spent his collegiate career playing for two of college basketball’s greatest coaches, Bob Huggins and Tom Izzo. Harris was viewed as a mid-major player coming out of high school. He received one scholarship offer from a high-major school, West Virginia and he committed to play there.
At West Virginia, Harris’ game grew. As a freshman in 2012-2013, Harris started in 17 of 31 games and averaged 9.8 points per games. His sophomore year, he took a big step forward in his overall development. Harris averaged 17.2 points per game, shot 42.2% from three, and his game overall had improved. At the end of his sophomore year, Harris announced he was transferring from West Virginia to be closer to his family. When asked what he took from his time at West Virginia, Harris responded, “I took experience with me. Experience of playing against high level players in big games. I took a lot of work habits with me like making sure to get in the gym extra and get up shots before and after practice. That made me a better scorer. Coach Huggins was always stressing that you won’t get better unless you’re putting in EXTRA time.”
Harris choose Michigan State University as his next destination to play for the Spartans under coach Tom Izzo. During his redshirt year, Harris worked on the scout team for Michigan State’s Final Four team. Harris played two years at Michigan St., but going to the Final Four was one of his fondest memories at Michigan St.. “Going to the Final Four in Indianapolis during my redshirt year to watch my team play. It was my first time going to something like that and it was a great feeling of pride representing my team and it was in my home city. So it was special.”
Eron appeared in 35 games during his redshirt junior season. He put up averages of 9.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He played a big role on his team defensively and was a nominee for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He also was known for his outside shooting and his range. Michigan St. made it to the NCAA Tournament that year and were upset by Middle Tennessee St.. Harris played in his first NCAA Tournament game and scored 9 points.
Following an early loss in the NCAA Tournament, Harris and his teammates were determined to get better going into Harris’ senior year. In 27 games during his final year, Harris was doing what he does best, scoring and defending, but he had become a better leader. His senior year ended abruptly as he landed awkwardly driving to the basket and his knee buckled. He was carted off the floor.
Season over, collegiate career over, but this injury did not define Harris.
Harris’ teammates were wiping away tears after he got hurt. This showed just how much he meant to the team and program. Harris became a better leader cheering his team from the sidelines during Michigan State’s final games. This all came full circle on senior night. Eron’s mother surprised him and sang the National Anthem and with a few seconds remaining in the game, coach Izzo put Harris in the game. Harris, who was supporting a knee brace, walked to center court and kissed the Spartan head as the game ended. When asked about how special this moment was to him, Harris reminisced, “Man it was so special to me! I actually forgot about my mom singing on senior night! That was another special moment. It meant the world to me. And yes, getting to kiss the spartan head was a very special thing that coach Izzo allowed me to do! I had so many special moments.”
After the season, Harris had knee surgery. He went undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft and rehabbed at the Michigan State facilities until he was ready to take the court again. In January of 2018, Harris was claimed by the Wisconsin Herd of the NBA G-League. He played in 12 games and averaged 2.25 points per game in limited minutes. This was a nice start for Harris coming back from injury. He said, “It was a great experience. Kind of a dream come true playing at that level. I got to play with and learn from great older guys and coaches there. It was also great to get out there after a long recovery. It was definitely a great starting place for my professional career.”
In the fall of 2018, Harris went overseas to play for Tampereen Pyrintö in Finland’s top league. Harris just completed his first full year of professional basketball in Finland. When asked if he had offers to play elsewhere before heading to Finland, Harris responded, “I don’t really know if I did. That was the place my agent advised me to go and I trusted him. I had heard so many good things about that league. We wanted to play in a place where I would have the opportunity to play some minutes and contribute and complete a full season and get my professional career started. Now that I’ve completed a full season, I’m ready to be the best I can be. Continue to improve and play at the highest level that I possibly can.”
Playing for Tampereen Pyrintö, Harris and his team finished 3rd in the league which was an improvement from the team’s previous season. Harris spoke about his season by saying, “Season went well. It didn’t go perfectly, but I was proud of my team and of myself. That was my first full season since I got injured and I played in every game without a sign of injury. That is a huge blessing. We ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs. That was not a good feeling, but overall I am proud of my season.”
Harris enjoyed the Finnish culture and did not have a hard adjustment. He was surrounded by great people, had a good living situation, and everyone spoke English, which helps when you are in a foreign country. Harris improved his overall game while adapting to a new environment. He also shot 45.25 % from three, which was the high percentage he has ever shot and something he is proud of.
“I made some life long friends there so it was definitely a good experience.” -Eron Harris about his time in Finland.
Harris still has his eyes on the NBA and he is showing the world he is ready to play on a big stage again. Harris has returned home and has began training for next season. While he is unsure of his next destination, there will be a long list of suitors interested in his services next year.