ATHENS – Jordan Harris is from south Georgia, where people don’t tend to dance around things. Yes, not being a starter was “kind of a big deal,” he admits. He was a starter everywhere else – high school, AAU – before arriving in Athens.
“Most people get frustrated, but that’s something I always told myself, never get frustrated, no matter what situation I go through,” Harris said. “There are different ways you can deal with a problem. You can go through it, go around it, or run away from it. I just deal with it, and I stayed positive, and kept working and tried to get better. That’s all you can do.”
The bench time ended for Harris on Wednesday night, when he got the first start of his college career, in Georgia’s 73-60 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. It remains to be seen whether Harris’ starting run will continue, and how long.
And the wait continues, and grows perhaps more painful, for Tyree Crump, the other freshman guard from south Georgia.
Harris and Crump were both highly-regarded prospects, two of the better ones recently for Mark Fox’s program. And yet eight games into the season neither had started, and their minutes were few. And while Harris finally drew the start on Wednesday, Crump didn’t even play.
It was the second straight DNP (did not play) in the scoresheet for Crump, which surely has to hurt for a guy who was a consensus top 100 prospect.
“Tyree, he’s just a freshman. And there wasn’t an opportunity to get him in there tonight,” Fox said. “He’s getting better every week. And obviously J.J.’s a really good player ahead of him, and there’s not a lot of opportunity, you know there’s not a lot of minutes available right now. But he’ll find his time.”
Harris and Crump have known each other for years and have been going through this early growing pain together.
“Tyree’s my brother, so the same thing I’m telling y’all I tell him every day,” Harris said. “He’s positive. He’s ready. Whenever his name is called he’ll be ready. I just tell him to stay positive. Sometimes you’ll get down. Everybody wants to play, everybody wants to get on the court. So he may be a little down, but I’m going to be the first one to pick him up if he is. But at the end of the day we’re all just happy we won. I’m pretty sure he’s happy we won too.”
Harris, a 6-foot-4 guard, only played two minutes in Georgia’s previous game, the home loss to Marquette. But his playing time had been slowly increasing prior to that, and his energy and defense provided what Fox said was “an element that we needed.”
Harris made his impact right away in Wednesday’s game, scoring four of the team’s first eight points. Then he was pulled, finishing with just eight minutes played. Part of that was because Harris said he took a shot in the ribs in the second half. He also admitted to getting a “a little tight, tired” as the game went on.
Still, his energy and aggressiveness in those early minutes were a step forward.
“I’ve just been paying attention to detail, doing all the small things,” Harris said. “Trying to understand every scheme we do. Basically just understand everything that we’re doing. Trying to stay on the same page, ask questions when you don’t know. And just playing hard. That’s all coach wants you to do.”