NC State's Keatts on addition of Blake Harris: 'We're excited'
Blake Harris, the Missouri freshman point guard who left the basketball team last week, is transferring to N.C. State, coach Kevin Keatts said.
Harris, a four-star recruit coming out of Word of God, will be eligible in the second semester of the 2018-19 season. He is currently not receiving athletic aid from N.C. State but will go on scholarship after this semester. Keatts said Harris will begin practicing with the Wolfpack next week.
“Blake is an unbelievable talent,” Keatts said. “What’s great about it is we get a chance to get a young man from this area who is going to be a really good basketball player for us. He is going to add a lot of depth for us, especially at the guard spot and that’s the way we’ll play in the future.”
Harris, who’s 6-3 and 195 pounds, played 14 games for the Tigers this season. He started nine, averaging 3.8 points per game in 13 minutes of action. Harris scored a season-high 11 points versus Long Beach State in the Advocare Invitational on Nov. 23. But Harris had to split time in the backcourt with juniors Jordan Geist and Terrence Phillips. In his last game with the Tigers, a 79-68 win over South Carolina on Jan. 3, Harris went scoreless in 11 minutes off the bench.
During his senior season at Word of God, Harris averaged 25 points and 9.9 assists per game. He originally signed with the University of Washington, but asked for and was granted his release after Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar was fired. Harris selected Missouri over N.C. State, Michigan State, Connecticut and Rutgers.
But the Chapel Hill native said the fact that Duke and North Carolina didn’t offer him a scholarship will give him an edge when the Wolfpack plays them.
“That’s going to be very exciting,” Harris told St. Louis radio station WXOS during an interview Wednesday. “UNC and Duke didn’t offer me out of high school. I hold a grudge because I’m from Chapel Hill. I thought I was good enough to be recruited by those schools. So me going to State should be fun to play in my hometown against great teams.”
Harris joins a strong group of players Keatts will have available next season. Two other transfer guards – C.J. Bryce (UNCW) and Devon Daniels (Utah) – are sitting out this season per NCAA transfer rules. Bryce and Daniels will be eligible in the fall.
The Wolfpack also signed five players in November who will be eligible to play the entire 2018-19 season.
Four are four-star recruits from the high school Class of 2018: power forwards Immanuel Bates and Ian Steere, and small forwards Jericole Hellems and Saddiq Bey.
In addition, N.C. State signed the nation’s top junior college recruit, 6-10 forward Derek Funderburk of Northwest Florida Junior College. Funderburk, who began his college career at Ohio State, was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2016 prior to signing with the Buckeyes.
Harris helps stabilize N.C. State’s uncertain point guard situation going into next season. Sophomore Markell Johnson started N.C. State’s first 10 games at point guard this season prior to his Dec. 14 suspension. Johnson and three others were indicted in Cleveland on felony assault charges on Dec. 5. Until Johnson’s case is resolved, he’s unable to play or practice with the Wolfpack.
Keatts said Johnson’s status had no direct impact on the team’s decision to add Harris as a transfer.
“It has nothing to do with Markell’s situation,” Keatts said. “Blake is an incredible talent. We recruited him before he went out to Missouri. After we sat down and talked with his family we felt like it was the best situation for all of us.”