PROVO — It took a lot to get Damarcus Harrison to Provo.
Hailing from faraway Arden, N.C., coaches racked up the miles making recruiting visits while fighting with such schools as Florida State, Marquette, Clemson, Oklahoma State and others for his services. BYU basketball coach Dave Rose has commented that he spent as much time recruiting the 6-foot-4 swingman as any player he can remember.
In the end, he got him.
Harrison committed to BYU about a year ago today and signed his letter of intent soon after. He arrived in Provo this past summer, but as soon as he got there he was gone again.
He went to Greece with the rest of the basketball team this past August only weeks after arriving at BYU.
“That was definitely an interesting experience for me,” Harrison said. “I’m new to Provo and everything here, and just when I’m settling in a bit it’s time to go. Greece was great, though, and I adjusted well to being there, I think. I went through just seven practices before we left, so it was definitely learning to catch up and fit in.”
The team members traveled to Greece to help define their individual roles on this year’s team while getting more comfortable playing with each other. For an incoming freshman player, it’s a prime opportunity to secure a role and gain the trust of his teammates.
Harrison did just that, scoring in double-figures on several occasions, but more importantly, gaining some of that trust.
“He can play, there’s no question about that,” said senior Noah Hartsock. “He has a lot of ability, and I think he’s liking it here. He’s definitely someone that can help us this year.”
Harrison will play at either the two or the three position in BYU’s up-tempo system. The hope is that he’ll be able to contribute immediately, helping supplement for the losses of Jimmer Fredette and more specifically Jackson Emery.
With his athleticism and wingspan, Rose believes that his young freshman could develop into the type of shut-down defender that Emery was.
“Damarcus is a guy who has a lot of size and length,” he said. “As he learns our system, he is a guy who could become a great defensive player.”
He also has a very good outside shot, pull-up jumper and can slash to the basket effectively.
“I’m just trying to work as hard as I can and do whatever they ask me to do right now,” said Harrison. “I’m not trying to be like anybody. I’m definitely not trying to be Jimmer or Jackson (Emery), I’m just trying to do what I can do.”
During his first full practice, Harrison was seen lagging a bit on closing out the drills. This is hardly unusual for a player coming into BYU’s mountain air from sea level.
Coaches are impressed so far with his effort and his demeanor as he goes through the acclimation process.
“Demarcus is a great kid with a really fun attitude,” said Rose. “So far he’s shown that he wants to work, and if he continues to work he’ll be a great player for us I believe. He’s someone who can definitely find a role this year and help us.”
Along with trying to fit in and find a role on the team, he’s adapting to his new surroundings at BYU. Unlike a lot of incoming players, he’d only been able to spend a couple of days in Provo prior to arriving full-time as a student-athlete.
“It’s different, a lot different than where I’m from, but I knew it was the place for me and I’m getting used to it,” he said. “At first I got lonely, but you learn that there is always a party or something going on here, and a lot of good people to hang out with. It’s getting cold, which I’m not used to, but I love it so far.”
The Marriott Center and its raucous environment is something he’s about to get used to as well. His first home game will also be the first time he’s ever taken part in that environment.
“Man, I can’t wait,” he said. “I’ve heard about it here and I’ve seen it on TV, but I can’t wait to get in front of it. But I can’t wait to get out there and play anywhere. I’ll play anywhere as long as it has ‘BYU’ on my jersey. That’s why I’m here, and I can’t wait.”