Over the course of the next few weeks, Campus Insiders will take a look at the players who will be making headlines next year and going beyond the court to bring you closer to the stars than ever. The latest player in our spotlight is Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison.
Name: Andrew Harrison
Hometown: Richmond, Texas
Why should I know this kid?
He was the point guard on the national runners-up last season and will go into the 2014-15 season as one of the top prospects at his position. Harrison averaged 10.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a freshman, and he managed to shine despite playing with a host of NBA-caliber players who had their own agendas. Kentucky really didn’t come together until the NCAA Tournament, and although Harrison went through some growing pains during the season, he showed good leadership as the year progressed and helped provide the team with a rudder. He took a lot of heat last season for being loose with the ball, and he can look for his own shot a bit too much, but when he is running the offense and pushing the tempo, he’s a fantastic fit for what John Calipari is trying to do on the court.
Plus, he made those huge shots in the Tourney, right?
Nope, that was his twin brother, Aaron. Aaron is a star in his own right, but make no mistake, Andrew Harrison is his own man. His brother’s shots came in the biggest of moments, but a look at some of the numbers from Andrew shows that he more than held his own during the Big Dance. In the third round vs. Wichita State, he dropped 20 points on the Shockers on 6-of-9 shooting and wore down WSU with his size and quickness on the perimeter. Five days later in the win over Louisville in the Sweet 16, there was Harrison putting up a 14-5 and 7 on the Cardinals. He took what Louisville gave him, but he didn’t try to do too much on the floor. That game, however, started a tough shooting run for Harrison, and even though he helped UK in other ways, that inconsistency with the ball raised some eyebrows from NBA scouts.
Is that why he came back to school?
Not completely. Harrison is a fantastic prospect, someone with a bright future, but his stock wasn’t nearly as high as it could be if he buffs out the rough edges in his game. That means finding consistency with his jumper. That means taking better care of the ball. That means improving his basketball IQ. It also means trying to find some sort of balance between the desire to score and the need to play more of a pure point guard role. The last point is basically why scouts needed to see more from him in college. Harrison is talented, but he doesn’t have a clear position at the NBA level.
Tell me something I didn’t know about him.
He says his favorite television show is “Martin,” the mid-1990s show starring Martin Lawrence, and his favorite superhero is Spider-Man.
Tell me something else I didn’t know about him.
He is crazy competitive, and he has a reputation of being a player who is willing to do anything possible to win, even if that means skirting the rules on the court a bit. He isn’t dirty on the court, but he’s definitely dusty.
He has to get tired of being constantly compared to his brother.
That does tend to happen when it comes to twins, but count the Harrisons as an exception. These guys are close, and there has been talk that one of the reasons they stayed in school is they didn’t want to stop playing alongside one another. They are intensely close on and off the court, and when Aaron was draining the big shots and earning the spotlight during the Big Dance, nobody was happier about it than Andrew, and not just because the Wildcats were winning. They push each other constantly, and they know that they make one another better every day.
What does this season hold for Andrew?
This year should be a lot easier for Andrew than last year simply because he has been through the wars before. He knows what to expect, and most players make their biggest jumps in terms of comfort and production between their freshman and sophomore years. Harrison is a veteran now, and even though UK is welcoming another stocked crop of five-star talent, the team doesn’t face the same go-undefeated-or-the-season-is-a-bust pressure that it did last year. Harrison will get more of an opportunity to play off the ball with five-star point guard Tyler Ulis coming on board, which should help Andrew become more well-rounded on the court.
What should his goal be on a personal level this season?
Obviously he’s going to do all he can to help his team win, but that also means becoming more dedicated on the defensive end of the floor. It’s not that he’s a horrible defender. It’s that Harrison doesn’t play up to his potential considering his length and quickness. He takes possessions off at times, and he can commit some silly fouls. Scouts are going to be watching to see if that was freshman inexperience or a lack of focus from Harrison. He can take the next step if he sees each defensive possession as a personal challenge, something that can help boost his confidence on both ends of the floor. Improving his body language — i.e., not hanging his head after making mistakes — will be another key. He just has to mature a little this season.
Anything else I need to know?
Harrison seems to have his heart set on leaving for the NBA after this season. On April 25, he announced he was returning to Kentucky by tweeting “ONE MORE YEAR.” Whether or not that gives him a sense of urgency remains to be seen. … He was born on Oct. 28, 1994, a day that has been pretty eventful throughout history. The Cuban Missile Crisis ended on Oct. 28, 1962, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated on Oct. 28 in 1886, and in 1929, Oct. 28 started a two-day slide of the stock market that helped trigger the Great Depression.