Tom Sorensen

Aaron Harrison is a Charlotte Hornet, but there’s more work to do

Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison (2) has a spot on the Charlotte Hornets’ training camp roster. But it’s not a slam dunk he’ll make the team. There’s still work to do.
Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison (2) has a spot on the Charlotte Hornets’ training camp roster. But it’s not a slam dunk he’ll make the team. There’s still work to do. AP

Aaron Harrison is a Charlotte Hornet. I like the move.

You’re saying, “Of course you like it. You interviewed him after the first practice this summer, stood near the wall and talked to him one on one. And now you’ll say, ‘See what happens when people talk to me?’”

I won’t say it. I’ll think it, though.

I find Harrison intriguing. He watched the NBA draft and saw six teammates from last season’s Final Four team, including his twin brother, Andrew, selected. He admits he was hurt when he was not.

The quality that distinguished Harrison’s game in his two seasons as a Wildcat was the work he did when the clock ran low. He was to Kentucky what Tyus Jones was to Duke. When Kentucky required a huge end of game bucket, it went to him.

The quality is not common, regardless of how talented a player is. To take the shot that will win the game, or fail to, a player has to believe that he’s the one who should have the ball. But it’s more. He needs to find the place that’s his; shoot from here and that ball is going in. The pressure is enormous. Defenders aware of his reputation scramble to stop him, and the clock is about to expire, or the game is.

“You can’t teach that,” the Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a former Kentucky star, said about Harrison after that first practice. “A coach can’t show you how to do it. You can’t learn it on the Internet.”

Going to the training camp is not the same as making a roster. Harrison will have to play the point and, presumably, drift over to shooting guard on occasion. The Hornets have a first-team point guard, Kemba Walker, and a second-team point guard, Jeremy Lin.

Their third-team point guard is Brian Roberts. Roberts did not have a good season last season. But in 2013-14, his second year in the NBA, he averaged 9.4 points and 3.3 assists for New Orleans.

We know what Roberts, 29, can do, and we know what he can’t. Last season he averaged 6.7 points and 2.3 assists and shot a career low 38.9 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from 3-point range.

Along with the big shots Harrison collected at Kentucky, we know this about him. He’s 20, he’s tall (6-6) and he’s impressive. In the NBA Summer League in Orlando he was asked (told) to play point guard, a new position. He ran the offense.

At Kentucky, he averaged 1.6 assists. In Orlando, he averaged 3.6. He also averaged 13.4 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Harrison wasn’t scheduled to be featured during summer league. He forced the Hornets to notice.

I suspect they’ll continue to.

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