Getting to know Tobias Harris – Groomed for Greatness
Tobias Harris may be an unknown to the vast majority of Orlando Magic fans, but my gut tells me he won’t be for long. Tobias has been groomed since birth to be the slashing and versatile player he is today. While his growth in the league will be centered around his ability to develop a consistent jump shot, his form and pedigree suggest it will come. With a heavy push from his father, Torrel Harris, Tobias has been molded into a player with an intense work ethic and a skill set that puts him in a position for long-term NBA success.
After playing just one season at the University of Tennessee, a school selected to allow him the opportunity to play as a “point forward”, Harris declared for the NBA and was selected 19th overall as the youngest player in the draft. Although in his second season in the NBA, he has only appeared in 71 games and had just one full training camp due to the lockout last off-season. As a McDonald’s All-American and one of six finalists for the Naismith Player of the Year Award in High School, the upside is tremendous.
Hall of Fame Connection
Tobias’ father Torrel was an NBA agent who landed George Gervin as his first agent. Despite no longer being an active agent, Torrel has been around the game for a long time and knows the in’s and out’s of how things operate and the connections that come with it. Tobias gets to directly benefit from those connections including having the good fortune of working out with Gervin growing up and even as recently as last Summer.
Maurice Harkless Connection
Tobias and Maurice are both New Yorker’s and have known each since their early high school years. Tobias described Moe as an under the radar guy, but said “he always knew he’d be good.” Moe and Tobias even worked with the same trainer growing up and would pass each other going in and out of the building. They spoke after the trade and Moe told him the coaching staff in Orlando was great and described the team as being a “first class organization”.
Jersey Number Choice
When it was announced that Tobias would wear number 12 for the Magic, you couldn’t help but pause and wonder what he was thinking following in the footsteps of Dwight Howard. It turns out that Tobias has an extremely good reason behind picking the number. Although unavailable in Milwaukee, Tobias has worn the number 12 throughout AAU ball and in college. He wears it to honor his best friend growing up, Morgan Childs, who passed away when he was 16 of a rare blood disease.
Via Rivals.com story in June, 2010: “Harris’ dad, Torrel, said Childs’ death “was probably the turning point” in his son’s career.
“He knew how much Morgan loved basketball,” Torrel Harris said. “Now Morgan was gone from the world. He probably felt like, ‘I have an opportunity to play the game of basketball.’ And here’s Morgan, who’s 16 years old and who has passed away and who loved the game of basketball.”
Moving forward, Harris has all the tools to develop into a solid NBA player. Tobias is polished emotionally and mentally, and at just 20 years old, that is half the battle. When Rob Hennigan made the decision to trade fan favorite J.J Redick, he obviously saw the potential of Harris as a piece in his process. While Harkless and Harris play the same position, they do compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses well.
Losing Redick was hard to stomach for most Magic fans, but with exciting and committed young players like Moe Harkless and Tobias Harris, fans at least have guys that they can believe in and root for during the journey back to relevance.