I don’t think bad of BYU or nothing like that. I’m just grateful that everything worked out fine. —Damarcus Harrison
SALT LAKE CITY — Damarcus Harrison is back playing basketball in Utah again — at least for a short while.
Three years after Harrison’s BYU career was cut short due to circumstances revolving around a planned LDS Church mission, the shooting guard joined five other NBA hopefuls Tuesday for a pre-draft workout with the Utah Jazz.
This time, he’s on a different mission — getting an opportunity to play professional basketball.
“I think I had a good showing,” Harrison said. “It was a very good experience for me.”
The last time many Beehive State basketball fans heard Harrison’s name was probably back in 2012 when a series of unfortunate events prevented him from playing at BYU past his freshman season.
Harrison, who’s from Greenwood, South Carolina, had planned on serving an LDS mission following his first year at BYU. Months after he helped the Cougars rally past Iona in the NCAA Tournament with a career-best 12 points, Harrison’s mission plans were delayed.
That created a problem in Provo. By that time this situation arose, BYU had already filled his scholarship for the 2012-13 season because Harrison was planning on being away for two years on his mission.
BYU coach Dave Rose gave Harrison a release from the program, and the South Carolina native lucked out that nearby Clemson had a scholarship open because of another player's injury.
Turns out, Harrison didn’t go on a mission and played the next three years for the Tigers. The ACC athlete averaged 7.9 points and 2.9 rebounds his senior season, including 11 games with at least 10 points.
As far as Harrison is concerned, all’s well that ends well.
“It was a blessing that Clemson had an open spot. I got to play in a very good conference in the ACC. I played against top talent, a lot of players who are going to the NBA. I don’t have any regrets about that. It was a good experience.”
Harrison said he remains in contact with former BYU assistants Mark Pope (now Utah Valley's head coach) and Mike Hall. He also holds no ill will against his former school, which, by the way, is where his brother currently attends.
“I don’t think bad of BYU or nothing like that,” Harrison said. “I’m just grateful that everything worked out fine.”
Tuesday’s workout was the first for Harrison, who hopes to get another audition or two with NBA teams before next Thursday’s draft.
Harrison knows he has to work on his shooting (37.1 percent from the field as a collegian), but he has an edge in that he can defend three perimeter positions.
That is what impressed the Jazz, who like to give guys with local ties opportunities to participate in pre-draft workouts.
“He is a guy that can defend. He showed very active hands defensively, had a couple of deflections, steals, even off the dribble defensively,” Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin said. “He needs to work on his shooting. Defensively, he could step in and play.”
Harrison was reminded about one peculiar part about playing in Utah on Tuesday after he went through a variety of tests (bench press, vertical jump, sprints, etc.) and the workout.
He laughed while saying he was affected a bit by the high altitude.
“I always remember that,” he said. “It burns your chest a little bit.”
Overall, Harrison had a great time being back playing basketball somewhat near to his first college home.
“It’s always good to come back here. It’s a beautiful place,” Harrison said. “It’s always fun to come out to BYU, come out here to Utah.”
JAZZ NOTES: The dates for the Jazz’s first three Las Vegas Summer League games were announced. Utah will play Miami on July 11 (8:30 p.m. MT), Minnesota on July 13 (8:30 p.m. MT) and Phoenix on July 14 (5:30 p.m. MT). The summer league tournament will continue July 15-20. Other participants in Tuesday's workout included Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), J.J. Avila (Colorado State), Michael Frazier II (Florida), Youssou Ndoye (St. Bonaventure) and Travis Trice (Michigan State). The Jazz have now worked out 96 players for evaluation leading up to the June 25 draft. Center Ante Tomic, Utah’s second-round draft pick in 2008, re-signed with his European team in Barcelona through 2018 to formally end speculation that he might play for the Jazz this season.
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