For Duquesne basketball, this season has been anything but an easy ride.
With the program’s losses of Sincere Carry and Lamar Norman Jr. as well as the temporary loss of Maceo Austin, head coach Keith Dambrot found himself with just six upperclassmen and a dangerous A-10 schedule remaining. It was then when he realized he had one more thing left in his locker room: a whole bunch of hungry freshmen.
Since those three players stopped playing for the team, Duquesne has turned to its young guns for help on both sides of the ball. The Dukes have received production from freshmen Chad Baker, Toby Okani, Tyson Acuff, Mike Bekelja, and Andre Harris, and have turned their season around with three-straight conference wins.
In the most recent win over Dayton, which was also the first game inside of its new UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse, Duquesne started out scorching hot, going into the second half with a 15-point lead. However, as the second half moved along, it appeared as though Dayton would not go down without a fight. The Dukes were forced to look to their young role players to preserve the victory and give a proper welcome to their new stadium.
With 13 minutes remaining, Harris checked in for the Dukes, after playing seven minutes in the first half but not accumulating a single point, rebound, or assist. In the next seven minutes, he chipped in tremendously, hitting two jumpers, grabbing three rebounds, hitting a free throw, and dishing out one assist. His efforts earned him some more late minutes, as he was once again out on the court from the four-minute mark to the two minute mark of this game.
Harris finished the game with 17 minutes played against the Flyers, tying his career high. He finished with seven points on 3 for 4 from the field, as well as 1 for 2 from the free-throw line. The young forward grabbed a total of four rebounds in the game, and dished out one assist.
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) February 3, 2021
Harris committed to Duquesne back in Dec. 2019 when he was playing at Hillcrest Prep in Arizona. A Michigan native, Harris was not originally from the Arizona area, but ended up there to play for the basketball powerhouse. Hillcrest is home to some of the top recruits in America over the past few years, including the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft DeAndre Ayton. There, Harris was unranked as a prospect, had no stars, and had a seemingly quiet recruitment compared to many of his teammates. His final seven consisted of TCU, Georgetown, Washington State, New Mexico, Montana, Grand Valley State, and Duquesne.
— Compton Magic (@Compton_Magic) April 22, 2020
The 6-foot-7 forward has now played in 12 college games and has proven that he can compete at a high level early on in his career in the Atlantic-10. At his height and a weight of 225 pounds, he is likely to fill the role of the Dukes’ talented senior Mike Hughes, who stands at a solid 6-foot-8 and weighs 240 pounds.
Harris is now averaging 11.4 minutes, 3.5 points, and 1.9 rebounds per game, and will look to continue to build on a solid start to his freshman campaign in Duquesne’s next game against VCU at home. That game will tip-off on Sunday Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. and be broadcast on NBCSN.