In the past, NBA prospects who were four-year college players were highly valued, but in 2016, it almost feels like a negative for a player to complete college before turning professional. Tyler Harris is one of those rare NBA prospects who is not only a college graduate, (BS in social science from Providence) but he also received a master’s in adult education from Auburn. Rolling out spoke exclusively with the NBA hopeful about his education, his faith as a Christian, his NBA pedigree and his smooth skills on and off the basketball court.
“That just made me stronger as a person and a player. I just continued to mature — it made me a much better player,” Tyler said of the advantages of playing four years of college basketball, adding “my numbers have gotten better throughout my college career.”
The Dix Hills, New York, native averaged 13.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game at Auburn in his final college season. “I’m 6-foot-10 and I can handle [the ball] like a guard, I can shoot it like a guard … I rebound the ball, my versatility really translates to the NBA style of play.”
Harris has good vision on and off the court. It was preparing for his future after basketball that motivated him to earn his master’s. “I realized I had an opportunity to go get my master’s and also play one more year of basketball. It felt like a win-win situation — it’s something that’s going to help me 20 or 30 years down the line when I want to do other things.”
With an older brother, Tobias Harris, a fifth year player for the Detroit Pistons; and a cousin, Channing Frye, an NBA veteran of a decade, professional basketball is in Tyler’s DNA. But he doesn’t feel any added stress to play in the NBA. “There’s really no pressure because I know what my talent is and what I can do. I am a man of God so I know that everything will fall into place. I’m doing something that I love to do, and that’s playing basketball, and that takes all of the pressure away.”
Harris also discussed some of the advantages of having an older brother in the NBA. “It’s an advantage because what they see in Tobias, they will also see in me. … We have the same mindset of being one of the best in the NBA one day, being an All-Star one day. We continue to have a hard work ethic.”
A nickname that has stuck with the baller on the court has been “smooth.” He created the acronym “someone manifested out of the heavens” to represent SMOOTH, and explained, “Be smooth, be calm and relaxed, how you walk, how you talk, how you present yourself. I just want to build on that.”
Harris is certainly smooth on the basketball court, and hopefully he will be smooth on an NBA team next season, when he is signed by one of the 30 teams to a contract, joining his older brother and cousin.
Keep up with Harris on Twitter and Instagram @1timety.