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Senior Day to be solo act for Bucs' Harrison

Joe Avento • Updated Feb 28, 2019 at 6:18 PM

James Harrison will be honored as the lone senior on the East Tennessee State basketball team Saturday and he’ll take the court with mixed feelings.

The backup forward’s career hasn’t gone as planned — he rarely gets off the bench — but he still manages to crack a smile when talking about his time at ETSU.

“I’ve had a good time here,” Harrison said. “You always want to be out there to help your team, but I enjoy being with the guys and I enjoy practice and going through the preparations. I like doing anything to help the team.”

Senior Day will be Saturday when the Bucs play host to Western Carolina in the regular-season finale for both teams. Tip-off at Freedom Hall is set for 4 p.m.

In the two years since Harrison came to ETSU from Blinn College, the 6-foot-8, 230-pound native of Dallas has appeared in 33 games and scored 92 points.

For a while it appeared as though Harrison would play quite a bit this season. With Jeromy Rodriguez and Mladen Armus forming a formidable starting front court, Harrison was a solid No. 3.

Then Lucas N’Guessan, who was sitting out after transferring from Oklahoma State, became eligible thanks to an NCAA waiver, and Harrison was forced further down the rotation.

“James is a really good person and he cares a lot about the team,” ETSU coach Steve Forbes said. “I’m sure he wants to play. I told him he would play a lot as a senior and he did early on. I really didn’t think Lucas would get eligible. Once he got eligible, it made playing time tougher. There’s only two positions for so many bigs.

“It just became a numbers issue.”

Harrison didn’t sulk as his playing time diminished.

“He’s kept a tremendous attitude the entire time,” Forbes said. “He’s great in practice. He’s a great teammate and everybody likes him. I think the world of him.”

Rodriguez is Harrison’s roommate and the two have become fast friends.

“He’s a really cool guy off the court,” Rodriguez said. “We always go everywhere together. We’ve built a great relationship these past two years. He’s a good guy. You don’t have to worry about him doing anything crazy. You just have a good conversation with him.

“He rides with me and I will play my Hispanic music and he doesn’t care. He actually likes it now.”

Harrison had a memorable game earlier this season when he got 15 points and nine rebounds against Reinhardt College. His career highs in both categories came without Forbes in the building. The head coach was serving a one-game suspension after receiving two technical fouls against Wofford.

Assistant Jason Shay was running the show against Reinhardt.

“That was one of my most exciting days,” Harrison said.

Harrison hopes his career ends in the NCAA Tournament, and he’s already getting fired up for the upcoming Southern Conference tournament in Asheville, whether he gets to play or not.

“That’s one of my wishes there,” he said. “I hope we can get it done in Asheville. I think we can.”

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