PROVO — After several years of courting, the BYU men's basketball team has landed one of its prized recruits for next season.
Early Thursday, South Carolina combo guard Damarcus Harrison told Cougars coach Dave Rose that he wants to play for BYU next season. Harrison actually made the decision Wednesday night but didn't tell the BYU coaching staff until Thursday.
Harrison, a 6-foot-5 guard who can play the 2 or 3 and averaged about 12 points and four rebounds last season for the 37-2 Christ School Greenies, a prep academy in Asheville, N.C., had offers from Clemson, Florida State, Marquette, Oklahoma State, South Florida and Wisconsin. He has a three-star rating from Scout.com and is No. 38 in the country at the shooting guard position.
He made an official visit to BYU early last month, and also made official visits to Clemson (his hometown school) and Florida State. Cougars assistant Terry Nashif has been recruiting Harrison, who is LDS, for nearly three years.
"When he went out to BYU, he loved everything he saw," said Harrison's coach David Gaines. "He loved the area, he loved the campus and he really liked the players and the coaching staff. That's a big part of things in a D-I program, because you're going to be around those people for most of your time there."
Harrison's decision has to be welcome news for Rose, who can't talk about recruits until they're signed, after the Cougars lost out on Washington point guard Brett Kingma, their other top recruiting target. Kingma committed to Oregon last month. Harrison is expected to sign with BYU during November's early signing period.
The Cougars are looking to replace the spots that will be vacated with the graduations of guards Jackson Emery and Jimmer Fredette. Harrison, who plays for a prep team that averaged nearly 80 points per game last season, likes BYU's style of play.
"I think BYU fits Damarcus to a T," Gaines said. "They play a high-scoring style of basketball, and those are his skills right there. Even though his faith had a lot to do with his choice, this is really a basketball decision as much as anything."
Gaines said Harrison is very athletic, is strongest in the open court, is an outstanding shooter and has long arms and big hands.
"He has all the tools to be great," Gaines said. "He is very smooth, very talented and very athletic. There is no ceiling on his potential. It's up to Damarcus on how good he'll become."
Harrison is described as a "quiet by nature" kid who will blossom if he can become more aggressive on the court and remain committed to hard work.
"Coach Rose told me that Damarcus could be a player-of-the-year candidate someday in BYU's conference, but that's really going to be up to Damarcus," Gaines said.