When SPS junior Hakeem Harris transferred to NYU from Seton Hall last summer, he was prepared to sit out the entire basketball season. Much to the delight of Harris and the rest of his Violet teammates, however, he found his way onto the court earlier than expected.
“When I transferred from Seton Hall, I got injured,” Harris said. “I had hip surgery this past summer, so I needed to get two waivers: one to take away a residency waiver so I can play right away, and the other was a medical waiver for the injury that I had. I was unsure if I was going to get one or either of those, but I got both of them.”
Harris, a music-lover who majors in social sciences with a concentration in organizational behavior and communication, had an immediate impact on the Violets’ roller coaster season. In the 14 games he has played since becoming eligible, Harris has averaged 15.7 points -— good for second on the team. He’s also shooting a ridiculous 48 percent from the three point line and averaging a team-best 2.8 threes made per game. Harris has had no trouble adapting to the team quickly.
“It was definitely a process to get meshed in with the guys and get the chemistry going,” Harris said. “But the beauty of the guys is that they’re really, really nice guys and they didn’t make it difficult. Coming as an outsider, it was kind of easy to be honest.”
After working his way into the starting lineup, it is clear that Harris has big aspirations for himself, but even bigger aspirations for the team. Harris hopes to propel NYU to an NCAA tournament run and hopefully all the way to the national championship.
“We’ve proven that we can beat the best in the country,” Harris said. “We’ve beaten teams that are top four in the country by 30 plus points, which is what a team that can win a national championship can do. So I think that we all have individual goals. I have individual goals to help the team as much as possible. But I think as a team, we really feel like we can be a national championship team.”
The Violets have stumbled a few times to teams ranked lower than them, but is has not broken their concentration. Their mercurial season has featured by two wire-to-wire wins against their rival Emory, and two blowout wins over Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Chicago.
Harris, however, thinks that the Violets have refocused and are now poised to make their run.
“I think that the biggest thing now is that we have a sense of urgency,” Harris said. “We really see the light at the end of the tunnel, we really believe in how good we can be. We were on SportsCenter top 10 plays the other day. For a Division III school, that’s pretty nuts. I think that more and more confidence is what you feel in the locker room.”
However, Harris is just happy to be on the court – and more specifically, a court in New York City.
“I’m a native of New York City,” Harris said. “I just love being back home, that’s kind of the biggest reason I chose to come back to NYU.”
Harris will take the court again on Friday when the Violets take on Case Western Reserve University in another Violet Nation Giveaway Day.
A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 12 print edition. Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected]