Former NCSU guard Harrow picks Kentucky

Calipari sways point guard

Staff WriterMay 27, 2011 

N.C. State's Ryan Harrow, top, steals the ball from Clemson's Andre Young.

ETHAN HYMAN — ETHAN HYMAN - ehyman@newsobserver.com

Ryan Harrow will follow in the footsteps of John Wall and Derrick Rose and play point guard for coach John Calipari.

The former N.C. State guard said Thursday that he will transfer to Kentucky and that he's up to the challenge of following the path of two of Calipari's brightest proteges.

"I have to work hard and play to my full potential," Harrow said. "By recruiting me, Coach (Calipari) thinks I can be one of the premier guards."

Under NCAA rules, Harrow will have to sit out the 2011-12 season but will have three seasons of eligibility left.

Hailed as a program-changer by former N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe, Harrow fell short of soaring expectations in his lone season in the ACC, which ended with the Wolfpack having a losing record (15-16, 5-11 ACC) and with Lowe out of a job.

Harrow electrified Wolfpack fans before he got to college with his mixed-tape highlights from high school and a summer-league showdown in Durham with North Carolina's freshman crop, but the undersized and outgoing guard made almost as much news off the court, with his Twitter and Facebook accounts and interaction, as he did on it.

Harrow averaged 9.3 points and 3.3 assists for the Wolfpack but spent the first half of the season coming off the bench because of his defensive deficiencies. Just when he broke into the starting lineup, his season became unhinged by a viral illness.

ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep said there aren't a lot of recruiting options left in the class of 2012 at point guard, which was a part of Kentucky's interest.

"I think Kentucky took a look around the board, saw that many of the top point guards were gone and realized Ryan Harrow was a strong option," Telep said.

Harrow needs the year off to work on his physical strength, Telep said. Harrow doesn't quite fit the mold of Calipari's star guards but has a dynamic ability to score and create offense.

At Kentucky, and previously Memphis, Calipari has put together a string of ultra-talented point guards who played one dominant college season and then jumped to the NBA. Rose, who led Memphis to the national title game in 2008, was the MVP of the NBA this season. Wall, who's from Raleigh, starred for Calipari at Kentucky in 2009-10 and was the top pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Kentucky has to replace point guard Brandon Knight, who led the Wildcats to the Final Four in his only season and is expected to be a lottery pick in next month's draft.

Calipari signed Marquis Teague, the top point guard in the class of 2011 and the younger brother of former Wake Forest guard Jeff Teague, to replace Knight.

If Teague leaves for the pro game after one year, Harrow would be in line to run the Wildcats' offense.

Harrow took over the starting point guard job from senior Javier Gonzalez, a three-year starter, in mid-January and started three games in a four-game ACC stretch. Then he sat out the Pack's 20-point loss at UNC on Jan. 29 and the subsequent loss to Virginia Tech at home. He started eight of the final 10 games, but his confidence and production had waned as Lowe's five-year tenure came to a close.

After Lowe resigned in March and new coach Mark Gottfried was hired on April 5, Harrow decided to transfer. He visited St. John's, Louisville and Georgia before deciding to play for Kentucky.

"I think it's a good fit for me," Harrow said.

Earlier this week, Gottfried added Cal State Bakersfield guard Alex Johnson to replace Harrow. Johnson, who averaged 13.3 points per game, will graduate from the Division I independent in June and will be eligible for the 2011-12 season as a graduate student.

jp.giglio@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8938

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