Since Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf took off for the NBA early (and instead landed in Maine and New Zealand), the consensus has been that SU basketball wound up benefiting from their decisions more than the players themselves did.
We all saw how it worked out for Syracuse. Despite losing its three most talented players, the Orange spent the entire season near the top of the college basketball ranks. SU entered the NCAA Tournament as a one-seed before getting bounced by Butler in the sweet 16. Perhaps most importantly, the Orange experienced a culture change in the best way possible, with its top players making headlines for their leadership instead of their foolishness. For the most part, (not entirely Mookie Jones) all the off-court issues disappeared from the locker room.
But what about Harris and Devo? As far as Devendorf goes, he continues to chug along in the Southern Hemisphere, this season for the Melbourne Tigers of the NBL in Australia.
Harris, on the other hand, remains a bit closer to home. The Fizz caught up with the Maine Red Claws’ leading rebounder and second leading scorer, who still possesses the physicality and athleticism necessary to make it to the NBA.
But Harris is mostly just happy to be playing basketball again after a spending an entire season out with an ankle injury.
“With me being out eight months, it really humbled me and it’s made me realize how much I love and appreciate the game of basketball.”
The former SU star seemed to be in a Zen-like state, peacefully content with where he is, and realistic about his chances of making it to the next level.
“It’s not just like I’m rushing to get called up and try to make an NBA team. I want to just do good and get my timing back on the court, and hopefully if I don’t get called up I just get invited to a summer league team or have options to go overseas. This is bigger than just getting called up for this year.”
Sounds like Harris wishes he had been this mature a few seasons back. After years of spitting The Per’fesser’s advice back in his face, he is finally drinking the Coach Boeheim Kool-Aid.
“Boeheim at the end of the day is a genius. He knows how to motivate his players and get them more amped up. Once you hear your coach is telling you that you’re overrated, you’re going to pick up your play and be even better. Boeheim plays a lot of mind games and at the end of the day it’s all for the team.”
Listen to today’s FizzCast to hear Paul talk more about his relationship with Boeheim, having to eat salad, the downside of playing overseas, and why he’s been forced to play out of position for the Red Claws.
Posted: Andrew Kanell