By Tom Ballato
In a season filled with quarantines, Chase Harler is making the best of his opportunity overseas in Lithuania after four years at West Virginia.
Harler grew up about an hour and a half away from West Virginia University in Moundsville, West Virginia. West Virginia was always his dream school, and when they offered him a scholarship, he committed.
“I had a very short recruiting progress. I always said if they offered early that I would commit. I ended up having a good AAU game in front of coach Huggins, they offered, and I committed,” Harler said.
The biggest adjustment for Harler at West Virginia was understanding his role. As a two-time West Virginia Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year and a scorer, his role was different at West Virginia with so many great guards in front of him.
It made him mature early, and he saw the floor early on in his career for his defense and how hard he played. “This was an ego check; it made me a more well-rounded person, and I don’t regret going there (West Virginia),” Harler said about how he grew during his tenure at West Virginia.
In his first two seasons, Harler came off the bench and averaged 5.9 minutes per game as a freshman and 10.3 minutes as a sophomore. After his sophomore year, he considered transferring, but he stuck it out after a talk with Bob Huggins. Nothing was promised, but Harler learned just how much Huggins cared about him during that conversation.
Sticking it out at West Virginia turned out to be the right choice. As a junior and senior, his role and minutes increased. He had a strong junior season, which translated to his senior year, but Covid-19 cut his senior year short with no postseason tournament.
At West Virginia, Harler was a great role player who played defense and could knock down a three. He proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Lindsey, on senior night, which was a great way to close out his West Virginia career. Harler had aspirations to play overseas but didn’t know if he’d get that opportunity.
In July of 2020, he signed his first professional contract with Lithuania’s Palangos Kursiai, a team in Lithuania’s second division. He arrived in Lithuania at the beginning of September, and he has quarantine four different times. Palangos Kursiai has played the least amount of games in their league due to positive tests and other teams not following the proper protocols.
In Lithuania, Harler is responsible for a major part of the team’s offense. The basketball is in his hands a lot more than it was in college, and he’s relied on to score. In each game played, he is getting more comfortable with the style of play, a style that fits his game, according to Harler.
Through 12 games (11 starts) in Lithuania, Harler’s averaged 29.3 minutes, 14.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. He’s the only American and is the go-to guy on his club. When asked about the work he’s put in for this role, Harler said, “I think the thing was changing my workouts this offseason. At West Virginia, I knew the shots I was going to get. This summer, I focused on coming off ball screens, creating shots, and getting to the rim more. I think the first step was changing my mindset that I’m going to be a more complete player.”
Harler graduated with a degree in business administration in three years, and in his fourth year, he finished his master’s in sports management. After his last season at West Virginia, he started an LLC called Built Different, a sports development company. The company focuses on baseball and basketball and have individual training, workouts, and camps. In the future, Harler hopes to have tournaments and leagues.
There are only a few months left in Harler’s first professional season overseas, but he’s learned what it takes to be a pro and is building for the future.
He’s excited to get back to work on his business when he returns to the United States, and West Virginia fans can look forward to him playing in alumni games in the near future.