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Draft arrives for LI's Tobias Harris

Tennessee's Tobias Harris blocks a shot attempt by

Tennessee's Tobias Harris blocks a shot attempt by Michigan's Evan Smotrycz during the first half action of the NCAA Tournament second-round game in Charlotte, N.C. (March 18, 2011) Credit: MCT

Since his freshman season at Tennessee ended in March, Tobias Harris has been traveling the country and working out for one NBA team after another in anticipation of Thursday night's draft. Monday's stop was Detroit, Tuesday was Milwaukee, and now, the final stop is the stage at the Prudential Center, where commissioner David Stern is expected to call his name somewhere in the middle of the first round.

Any butterflies now that it's so close? "No," Harris said over the phone from Milwaukee. Then, he added, "A little bit, actually."

It proves the former Half Hollow Hills West and Long Island Lutheran star from Dix Hills is human. His workouts have gone well, and the buildup to a moment he's been aiming to achieve his whole young life has him excited.

"I'm enjoying this time, and hearing my name called will be a dream come true," Harris said. "I couldn't have done it without my family, without God, and I know a lot of people support me, including my trainers, Jay Hernandez and Britton Kelley."

Because he never forgets the inspiration of his closest friend, Morgan Childs, who died three years ago at age 16 of a rare blood disorder, Harris added, "And my best friend that's in heaven now is watching over me. It will be a great experience."

The first step in the process of turning pro was choosing the right agent. Harris and his father, Torrel, who is a former basketball agent, selected Henry Thomas, who joined Creative Artists Agency two years ago and counts Miami's Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh among his clients.

"I've known him for 20 years since I was an agent," Torrel Harris said, "and Henry has always been respected and a high-character person. We wanted a marketing company, and CAA is the biggest."

Still, it's the player who makes the agent, and the 6-8, 225-pound Harris has held up his end of the deal. At various times, he's gone head-to-head against the other top small forwards in the draft, including Kansas' Marcus Morris, San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard, Florida State's Chris Singleton, Texas' Jordan Hamilton and UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt.

"If anyone passes on him, you're passing on a future Hall of Famer," the elder Harris said of his son. "If Tobias is going to camps and outplaying guys at 18 and they pick an older guy over a guy with unlimited potential, that's their decision."

Harris worked out for 10 lottery teams plus his hometown Knicks and Denver, which has the No. 22 pick and a need at small forward after trading Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks.

"They expressed a lot of interest and were really high on me," Tobias Harris said of the Nuggets. "They see a lot of potential in me."

Of course, Harris said he'll be happy no matter who picks him. He knows where he goes in the first round is not as important as what he does after he gets there.


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