Luke DeCock

Blog: Ryan Harrow finally makes NCAA tourney, but may only watch

Five years and three schools later, Ryan Harrow finally gets a chance to play in the NCAA tournament. Or maybe not.

Harrow’s basketball odyssey took him from N.C. State to Kentucky to Georgia State, but he may not play against Baylor on Thursday because of a pulled hamstring.

“It was a big thing for me to make it to the NCAA tournament,” Harrow said. “It kind of sucks that I'm injured and may not be able to go. I still want to be here for the guys and support them.”

Harrow was part of Sidney Lowe's signature recruiting class at N.C. State, with Lorenzo Brown and Scott Wood and Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie. That group would eventually go to two NCAA tournaments and one Sweet 16, but under Mark Gottfried after Lowe was fired and Harrow transferred to Kentucky.

At Kentucky, he was a stop-gap solution at point guard in 2013 while John Calipari was caught between platoons of NBA prospects. The Wildcats fell all the way to the NIT … where they lost to Robert Morris.

And after transferring again, back home to Georgia State before last season, the Panthers lost only one regular-season game in the Sun Belt but were upset in the conference tournament.

“It was always a goal for when you come to college, you want to make it to the NCAA tournament and you want to be able to compete,” Harrow said. “We thought we were going to do that with N.C. State. I thought I was going to do it with Kentucky. It's crazy that I come back home to Atlanta and I do it with this team.”

It's been a long, strange trip for Harrow. It's been a long, strange year for Georgia State.

For however long Georgia State is around, the 12th-seeded Panthers will be one of the best stories of the tournament.

Their best player is the coach's son, R.J. Hunter. His father, Ron, is wheeling his leg around on a scooter after tearing his Achilles tendon celebrating the conference title. And one of the team's guards is Kevin Ware, making his first return to the NCAA tournament since suffering a grotesque compound leg fracture while playing for Louisville against Duke in 2013.

Then there's Harrow, who waited five years to play in the NCAA tournament.

“And now I might not be able to play,” Harrow said. “But just getting here is big, like finally, this is what every kid dreams of.”

DeCock:, @LukeDeCock, 919-829-8947