“I love Dion Harris,” LeBron James said after playing Harris’s Detroit Redford High School team in January.
Apparently, James isn’t the only one who has affection for Harris anymore, who was named Mr. Basketball 2003 by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan in conjunction with the Detroit Free Press. The award is annually given to the state’s top senior.
Harris received 555 points, beating runner up Brandon Cotton by 52 points. Cotton, a point guard who plays for Detroit St. Martin dePorres High School will be attending Michigan State next year. North Muskegon’s High School Drew Naymick finished third with 252 votes and is set to attend Arkansas next season.
Despite winning the Mr. Basketball Award, Harris was not named to the McDonald’s All-America team, which accepted the top 24 high school seniors in the nation. Cotton and Naymick were named to the team three weeks ago.
But Michigan freshman Lester Abram said much of the decision-making for the All-America team is political, and not necessarily correlated to talent level.
The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 24.6 points and 8.7 rebounds this season. Michigan coach Tommy Amaker describes Harris as a physically-defined player with great instincts, who is still growing into his body.
Abram’s Pontiac Northern High School team beat Detroit Redford in last year’s state championship. But the former nemeses hold no hard feelings for each other, and actually look forward to teaming up in the backcourt for Michigan next year.
“I kicked it with the guys on my official visit, and when I was up there for summer ball, and we really got along,” Harris said. “I think it will be cool for me to go up there and play with Lester and Daniel (Horton).”
Harris, who was believed to be the front-runner for the Mr. Basketball award at the beginning of this season, said he never felt threatened by the possibility of more sanctions being levied on Michigan basketball by the NCAA for the Ed Martin scandal. Joining him will be forward Brent Petway of Georgia, center Courtney Sims of Massachusetts and power forward J.C. Mathis, who transferred from Virginia and has been practicing with the team all year.
According to HoopScoop.com analyst Clark Francis, Petway is the most talented senior in the state of Georgia and has improved his ability a great deal over this year.
“The future looks bright for us,” Abram said of the team’s prospects for next year. “We have a lot of guys coming back, plus we have some really good freshman that can add something to the team.”
Harris is considered to be Amaker’s first major in-state recruiting victory over Michigan State. The Detroit native is just the first of several Southeastern Michigan natives who have committed to Michigan, signifying the reconnection between the two. Both Ronald Coleman of Romulus High School and Joe Crawford from Detroit Renaissance High School are committed to attend Michigan in 2004.
Harris is the first Mr. Basketball winner headed to Ann Arbor since Robert Traylor made the trek from Detroit in 1995. He joins an extensive list of Wolverines who have received the illustrious award including Terry Mills, Glen Rice and Chris Webber.
Harris also ends Michigan State’s run of recruiting four straight Mr. Basketball winners including Paul Davis, Kelvin Torbert, Marcus Taylor and Jason Richardson.