Welcome to the club.
Half Hollow Hills West senior Tori Harris, one of Long Island’s premier girls basketball players, signed her letter of intent Wednesday morning with James Madison University in a ceremony at Hills West with family and coaches.
She had verbally committed to JMU in September after receiving interest from Albany, Hofstra, Elon and others.
“It feels good because I know I’m going to be in a good environment at that school,” said Harris, the youngest sister of Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris.
Tori is now the fifth Harris sibling to sign with a Division I program for basketball, joining Tobias (Tennessee), Terry (Houston Baptist), Tyler (Auburn) and sister Tesia, (Delaware and St. John’s).
“Everybody told me to go with the school I felt comfortable at,” she said. “I went on unofficial visits to other schools, and JMU was actually my first official visit. When I was there, it felt like somewhere I could see myself becoming a better basketball player.”
The 6-1 guard picked up a little something from each of her siblings. She possesses one of the most complete skill sets of any player on Long Island, blending the ability to drive in traffic with the talent to convert shots from outside.
Rebounding, defense, vision and ballhandling are a handful of other skills that make her a threat in all facets of the game.
“In terms of boys or girls, it doesn’t matter. Her basketball skill is one of the highest I’ve been around,” said second-year Hills West coach Bryan Dugan.
Coaches at JMU haven’t given Harris an indication of whether or not she’ll play from the start. Harris said they told her, “Playing time all depends on me. I have to go in there and work hard.”
Dugan praised her work ethic and competitiveness, leaving little doubt that she’ll fight hard for court time.
Harris returned to play for Hills West last winter after a year at Upper Room Academy and rejuvenated the Colts, averaging 24.7 points per game. They completely reversed course, improving to 13-6 after a 3-15 season the year prior.
Harris led them to the school’s first playoff game since 2008 but was unable to play because of a broken nose and concussion she had suffered in the previous contest. The Colts lost that game to Huntington, 74-67.
“I want to make sure that we get to playoffs this year,” she said. “Last year I didn’t get to play in playoffs, so I want to go farther.”
Lofty goals for her senior season have Harris focused on the present. With a major life decision no longer looming overhead, Harris just has to enjoy the sport her family’s famous for.
“I kind of feel like I’m in the club now,” she said.