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Former Hills West standout Tobias Harris stays focused on improving for Magic

Tobias Harris of the Orlando Magic looks on

Tobias Harris of the Orlando Magic looks on against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

In the months before Tobias Harris committed to the University of Tennessee in 2009, his well-traveled recruiting trail included stops in Virginia, Arizona, Ohio, South Carolina and Florida.

Now, the former Half Hollow Hills West standout-turned-Orlando Magic standout is in line to experience the NBA's version of recruiting next summer for the first time.

Where this road leads is anyone's guess, including Harris'.

Harris and the Magic failed to agree on a contract extension before the Oct. 31 deadline for fourth-year former first-round picks. That means he'll become a restricted free agent next season, with the only caveat being that the Magic can match any offer he receives.

Not that Harris is looking forward to the experience. Not yet, anyway.

"I just go out there and play basketball," he said before Wednesday night's Knicks-Magic game at Madison Square Garden. "I'm going to let everything else take care of itself."

So far that strategy has been working out well for the Long Islander.

Harris made 4 of 11 shots and scored 12 points in the Magic's 97-95 win Wednesday night. He is averaging a career-high 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 36.6 minutes in nine games.

Harris last month said he wanted to remain with the Magic long-term, saying, "this is home to me." Wednesday night he insisted he didn't take it personally when the deadline passed without a new deal.

"It's just business," the Dix Hills product said. "That's the way you've got to look at it. We're past that point. There are no hard feelings at all."

The Knicks, of course, are in line to have enough salary-cap room to make a run at free agents next season, and you might say this could easily qualify as "home" to him, too.

But Harris declined to speculate about his future, err, home.

"I'm all about my team right now," he said. "I'm all about where I'm at right now, and that's with the Orlando Magic. I'm not worried about that at all. I want to help my team be the best we can be.

"Each and every day I pride myself on working with my teammates to get better and really win games. That's my focus."

Harris attributed his strong start this season to his offseason workouts and scrimmages with NBA players such as Carmelo Anthony in New York City.

"I just saw the way he works, the parts of his game that he excels at," Harris said. "I just looked at that and tried to better myself."

Harris showed off his improved offensive game late in the first half, scoring 10 straight points for the Magic -- including a three-pointer and a dunk -- while turning a 46-44 deficit into a 54-50 lead.

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