Last month Allstate and the NABC announced their 2014 Good Works Team (which recognizes players for their commitment to community service). One of the five D-1 players selected was Virginia guard Joe Harris, who when not leading his ACC-leading Cavaliers in scoring has donated his time to helping HIV-positive kids and young burn victims. CHD’s Jon Teitel got to sit down with Joe to chat about ending his college career with a run in this month’s NCAA tourney.
Growing up in Washington you took 1000 shots per day and also got advice from “shot doctor” Warren Friedrichs. What is the key to being a great shooter (practice, technique, other)? Repetition helps you get a lot of confidence just by seeing the ball go through the hoop.
You played for your father in high school, what kind of influence has he had on you both on and off the court? He has had the biggest influence on my life and is a hero of mine.
You originally signed to play for Coach Tony Bennett at Washington State, but after he took the Virginia job you followed him 3000 miles east to Charlottesville. What makes him such a good coach, and what is the most important thing you have ever learned from him? I followed him out here because we believed in each other and wanted to be the foundation of the next era of Virginia basketball. He has taught me so many things and has been the second-biggest influence on my life so far.
In the 2012 NCAA tourney you scored seven points in a loss to Florida. What is your favorite memory from making it to the tourney, and how sweet would it be to get a chance for revenge by facing the Gators again this time around? It was unbelievable to hear our team’s name get called on Selection Sunday. The Gators have a great team this year but it would be fun to play them again.
Last year you ranked in the top five in the ACC with 42.5 three point percentage and 2.2 three pointers made: what is your secret for making shots from behind the arc? It is about just trying to hunt your shot. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses and I just try to knock down open shots to help my team win.
In February 2013 you scored a career-high 36 points in a five point upset of Duke. Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were “in the zone”? I did not even realize that I had scored so many points by the end of that night.
In the 2013 NIT you scored 11 points in a loss to eventual runner-up Iowa. What did you learn from that loss that you think will help you in postseason play this year? We were a little bummed out about not making the NCAA tourney last year, but looking back we should have cherished the moment regardless of what tourney we were in.
Last year you were named all-ACC first-team: what impact have you seen with the addition of three new teams to the conference this year (Notre Dame/Pitt/Syracuse)? It has been a lot of fun watching and playing against the new additions, as they make the ACC the best basketball conference in the country. I cannot wait for Louisville to join the ACC next year.
Last Saturday on Senior Day you scored seven points in a 19 point win over Syracuse to clinch your school’s first outright ACC title in 33 years, where does that game rank among the highlights of your career? It is up there near the top because I had so many family members and friends there. I could not have scripted it any better and will remember it for a long time.
Last month you were one of five division one players named to the Allstate NABC Good Works Team, what did it mean to you to receive such an honor, and what do you hope to do in the future? It is a huge honor that I did not expect at all so I am extremely grateful. It is important to be a role model in the community, which is something I stress to the younger guys on our team. I do not think about the future a whole lot: I am just focused on what we have going on in the present.