Posts tagged with Dajuan Harris

Contrasting styles of Dajuan Harris, Remy Martin on display in KU exhibition

Kansas guard Dajuan Harris (3) knocks the ball away from Emporia State forward Adam Nance (23) during the first half on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Dajuan Harris (3) knocks the ball away from Emporia State forward Adam Nance (23) during the first half on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The man most everybody inside Allen Fieldhouse came to see Wednesday night didn’t even start for No. 3-ranked Kansas. But basketball aficionados no doubt derived some entertainment out of watching a different style of lead guard, and one who actually started, while they were waiting for the main event.

No, not Chris Teahan, the sixth-year walk-on and student section favorite who replaced highly anticipated Arizona State transfer Remy Martin in KU’s starting five. Dajuan Harris, the redshirt sophomore who isn’t as likely to frequent the highlight reels on social media as the flashier Martin, but plays the type of basketball that coaches love.

Harris fits in so well on both ends of the court that head coach Bill Self might have even started the wiry point guard over Jalen Wilson (suspended) for the 86-60 preseason warmup versus Emporia State.

Martin (15 points on 7-for-10 shooting) proved to be electric with the ball in his hands from the moment he checked into the exhibition about six and a half minutes into the action.

But it was Harris who gave the Jayhawks their first spark of the night a few minutes earlier, diving onto the floor to give KU some defensive energy, which it had sorely lacked most of the opening minutes. Harris’ hustle turned into a KU steal and soon after a Christian Braun bucket in transition. It was one of those underrated moments that gets a team that should be dominating on track.

Harris, the quiet, 6-foot-1 guard from Columbia, Mo., had a low-key night in the box score, too, finishing with six points, two assists and one steal in 22 minutes. 

As Self said Harris told him after the exhibition, it was an “OK” performance. But that doesn’t mean Harris’ spot in the starting five will be in jeopardy. Harris attacks the game in a way that his coach appreciates.

“Juan has been as good a player as we’ve had,” Self said of what the Jayhawks have looked like during their preseason practices, “so Juan’s going to start. I don't know if that'll be for all season long or whatever. But for the foreseeable future, for sure, we’ve got to have Juan on the floor. Juan and Remy can play together, they can both start together. But Juan has been very consistent so far. He's got good hands.”

Self didn’t start Martin against Emporia State, but he did start Harris. Self said Martin coming off the bench had to do with the coach expecting his players to play a certain way. He mentioned Martin is quick, but doesn’t use that quickness on the defensive end of the court.

Harris and Martin are two very different types of guards, but there’s got to be some benefit to the more experienced scorer taking on some of the traits of the reserved sophomore. 

Martin is a shot-maker. A walking bucket, as the kids like to say. And no one with KU, including Self, wants that to change. When Martin checked in Wednesday night, the former All-Pac 12 guard saw defenders in front of him that he knew he could cook, so he did — even though his coach at least a couple of times in the first half would’ve preferred to see Martin move the ball and run the half-court offense instead of going one-on-whoever-was-in-front-of-him and scoring.

Harris is as old school a point guard as you’ll come across these days. He’s all about running KU’s sets, finding teammates, and getting to the right spots on the floor.

You could call the contrasting styles of Martin and Harris just a case of both players playing to their strengths. The thing is Martin could be even more crucial for the Jayhawks by adding some of those Harris attributes.

Self knows both guards go about their business in ways that benefit KU.

“I think Remy can just kind of understand ball and body movement gives the post guy a better touch than him just holding it, trying to get the ball to the post guy,” Self gave as one example of how Martin could emulate Harris.

This is the long game for Self: bring Martin off the bench now, in an exhibition that doesn’t matter and you’re obviously going to win anyway. Send a message about the type of basketball you want him to play. Not only do you get to see how he reacts, you also send a reminder to everyone on the roster that if you’re not willing to approach the game in a certain way — the way Self wants — then you could end up on the bench, whether you’re the 10th man in a deep rotation or the preseason Big 12 player of the year.

You can never tell much about KU from these lopsided exhibition blowouts in early November. But Self made it more interesting than expected with a bold move, bringing a star — the students showered Martin with chants of “Remy” moments after the exhibition as he did an on-court interview — off the bench.

Reply 2 comments from Crimson_bluescottco Dirk Medema

Dajuan Harris’ breakout performance in NCAA Tournament shows he belongs in KU’s starting 5

Kansas guard Dajuan Harris (3) battles Eastern Washington guard Kim Aiken Jr. (24) battle for the ball during the second half of a first-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament at Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Kansas guard Dajuan Harris (3) battles Eastern Washington guard Kim Aiken Jr. (24) battle for the ball during the second half of a first-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament at Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast) by Associated Press

The way Dajuan Harris played against Eastern Washington on Saturday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, he may never come off the bench again for Kansas.

March Madness has a way of creating college basketball stars. Those who emerge unexpectedly and embrace the stage end up making winning look easy, bringing the best out the players around them and, most importantly, propelling their team on to the next round.

While David McCormack turned in a folk hero level performance in his return at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, in Indianapolis, and senior Marcus Garrett played like a senior not interested in seeing his career end, the Jayhawks’ run in this year’s tournament might already be over and done with if not for the play of the smallest man in the Kansas basketball rotation, redshirt freshman Harris.

In just his 29th career game, KU’s backup point guard, listed at 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds, had his new career scoring high before halftime, which wasn’t hard to do considering the low-usage reserve’s previous best was seven points.

But Harris did much more than score 13 points and shock the Eagles with his 3-for-4 3-point accuracy. He played with the poise of a senior, making it possible for the Jayhawks (21-8) not to panic when No. 14 seed Eastern Washington (16-8) had an upset brewing.

“We were in real trouble,” KU coach Bill Self said afterward, “if it wasn’t for Dajuan.”

The Eagles, who led by as many as 10, gave KU more than a scare. The Big Sky’s lone representative in the field went up 9-0 on the Big 12’s premier basketball program in less than two minutes. But the deficit wouldn’t become more disastrous, because as soon as the margin hit nine, Self abandoned his starting five to bring in Harris and McCormack.

This wasn’t the case, earlier in the season, when Harris was still learning the ropes, but the Jayhawks in March are simply a better team when he’s on the floor. It proved to be true yet again during his first taste of the NCAA Tournament, when the young point guard from Columbia, Mo., gave KU 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting, to go with his four assists, two steals, one block and no turnovers in 35 minutes.

Harris, just like starters Garrett, Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun, played all 20 minutes of the second half, because KU needed him impacting the game during every second possible. The Jayhawks were noticeably worse off when either Harris or McCormack weren’t on the floor versus EWU.

In the middle of praising Harris during his postgame video press conference, Garrett didn’t reference his fellow guard’s points or assists or 3-pointers. Garrett instead brought up Harris’ eye-catching plus/minus of +22.

“I feel like he played a great game,” Garrett said. “He gave us the boost we needed.”

In fact, the Jayhawks blew out the Eagles when Harris was on the floor, 91-69. During the roughly five minutes in which Harris sat in KU’s first-round win, the Eagles outscored the Jayhawks, 15-2.

Said Garrett: “He came out there, he did what Dajuan does — he took the shots that were open and he knocked them down.”

When the Eagles invited Harris to put up 3-pointers, the young guard showed no fear, and made them pay for doubting him. Even though Harris only attempted nine 3-pointers (and made five) total in his first 28 college games, he didn’t have a reluctant approach, negating EWU’s strategy. The Eagles undoubtedly expected a freshman known for not shooting to tense up and hoist bricks or drive into a defense that was waiting for him.

Harris was too unflappable for that to work.

“I feel like he has confidence shooting the ball,” Garrett said of Harris’ surprising output from 3-point range. “He just doesn’t take them all the time, because that’s kind of not what he does for the team. But when he does take them he has a chance to knock them down.”

It turns out EWU didn’t know what KU had in Harris, who only averaged 1.9 points and 1.8 assists in 13.7 minutes a game during Big 12 play.

Those days of being a non-factor are behind Harris now, though.

“Juan was probably the best player we had from start to finish,” Self said following the young point guard’s March Madness debut.

Harris has not only proven himself now, he’s also earned his coach’s trust. The spotlight will get hotter and the competition more athletic and imposing from here, but Harris has shown he belongs in the staring lineup.

The Jayhawks opened their NCAA Tournament run with a lineup of Garrett, Braun, Agbaji, Bryce Thompson and Mitch Lightfoot. But the five who got them out of the first round — Harris, McCormack, Garrett, Agbaji and Braun — should be the starting five for round two.

How Jalen Wilson handles his return from COVID-19 — and whether he can play on Monday against USC and be impactful, like McCormack was vs. EWU — will go a long way in determining whether the Jayhawks can reach the Sweet 16 and extend their stay in Indianapolis. Regardless of how many more games remain for KU in the West region, Harris has demonstrated as a floor general who plays with confidence, vision and defensive energy — and let’s not forget he’s also a 3-point shooting threat (8-for-13 on the season) — that he deserves a promotion to the starting five from here on out.

Reply 3 comments from Dirk Medema Layne Pierce Surrealku

A ball mover and pesky defender, young PG Dajuan Harris emerging right on time for Kansas

KU freshman Dajuan Harris hounds Oklahoma's De'Vion Harmon during KU's 69-62, Big 12 quarterfinal victory over Oklahoma on Thursday, March 11, 2021, at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo.

KU freshman Dajuan Harris hounds Oklahoma's De'Vion Harmon during KU's 69-62, Big 12 quarterfinal victory over Oklahoma on Thursday, March 11, 2021, at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Denny Medley/Big 12

So much has transpired since Kansas last played a basketball game that it’s almost easy to forget the Jayhawks are entering the NCAA Tournament with a newfound super-sub in point guard Dajuan Harris.

As recently as mid-February, the redshirt freshman played a limited role at best, and on the season Harris logged single-digit minutes in nine of KU’s games. But just as the Jayhawks began laying the groundwork for the most important stretch of the calendar, Harris emerged as an influential member of the rotation.

KU at least got in one Big 12 tournament game in Kansas City, Mo., last week before its COVID scare forced the No. 2 seed to withdraw. And while it would’ve been even better for Harris to experience more March pressure in a conference semifinal and final, too, the 6-foot-1 backup, listed at 160 pounds, didn’t look intimidated by the postseason stage against Oklahoma.

In fact, Harris proved to be one of the best players on the floor in KU’s most recent game. And he didn’t just do it with his intuitive passing and ability to set up teammates. For a stretch of the first half, Harris’ defense stole the show as he kept picking OU’s pockets.

“Dude, he’s everywhere,” KU senior Mitch Lightfoot marveled after Harris came away with four steals and proved to be a pesky defender. “He impacts everything.”

Harris only played nine minutes in KU’s win over Baylor. But in the two games since then the Jayhawks have taken off with Harris on the floor. In KU’s regular season finale versus UTEP, the Jayhawks outscored the Miners, 51-33, during Harris’ 24 minutes of playing time. And UTEP held a 29-16 advantage during the 16 minutes that Harris sat.

Against a much tougher team in their postseason opener, the Jayhawks again benefited from his presence in a Big 12 quarterfinal win over Oklahoma. During Harris’ 29 minutes, KU outscored the Sooners, 56-43. When Harris was on the bench, though, OU held the upper hand, 19-13.

Lightfoot praised Harris for his defensive activity, and pointed to one post-up by OU forward Brady Manek as an example. Lightfoot was defending Manek and didn’t even know in the moment that Harris was on his way to help Lightfoot trap one of OU’s top offensive threats.

“We got a steal and it led to a bucket,” Lightfoot said of Harris’ instinctive decision. “The guy played his butt off and I’m really happy for him.”

As KU (20-8) enjoyed one of its best halves of the season during the first 20 minutes against OU, the Jayhawks had Harris in large part to thank for their 35-15 halftime lead.

KU head coach Bill Self said Harris “was everywhere,” and disrupting OU’s offense with his hands and defensive awareness.

“He was arguably the best player in the game in the first half,” Self said.

Harris’ final stat line read: four points, five assists, four steals, two rebounds and thee turnovers, with 2-for-2 shooting. But his impact was much larger. Self loved how Harris moved the ball on offense and took an active approach to everything he did.

“I guess the little guy, you always want to see the little guy do well,” Self said. “I really love watching Juan play when he’s aggressive. And to me, he’s not that much fun to watch when he’s not. So I love his activity level when he gets those hands going. He’s probably the best on our team as far as hands go.”

With Jalen Wilson out for KU’s NCAA Tournament opener versus Eastern Washington on Saturday and David McCormack and Tristan Enaruna returning to the team just ahead of the first-round game in Indianapolis, the Jayhawks will likely need to lean on role players such as Harris, Lightfoot and Bryce Thompson even more.

Harris, never a player to worry about how many shots he’s taking, not only fits in perfectly, but also set himself up to succeed when KU will need him by heading into The Big Dance on an upswing.

Ochai Agbaji has known Harris dating back to before their time as KU teammates, as both came up through the MOKAN AAU program. So Agbaji wasn’t surprised to see the redshirt freshman begin to take on an important role just in time for March Madness.

“That’s how he’s always played, just being that pass-first (point guard),” Agbaji said. “His feel for the game has been like that.”

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With No. 15 KU looking for a spark, PG Dajuan Harris is an obvious answer

Kansas guard Dajuan Harris (3) drives to the bucket past Oklahoma guard Umoja Gibson (2) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Dajuan Harris (3) drives to the bucket past Oklahoma guard Umoja Gibson (2) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

With his Kansas basketball team coming off an unusual stretch of three losses in a row, head coach Bill Self openly suggested it might be time to “stir it up and try something different.”

The Jayhawks’ starting five is so solidified 15 games into the season that Self isn’t going to blow it up. But a more subtle change wouldn’t be crazy. And if anyone is getting promoted to a starting role at this stage of the schedule, the obvious choice is Dajuan Harris.

Self mentioned on “Hawk Talk” Monday night that in KU’s first practice since the loss at Oklahoma he mixed the teams up and one group “was actually fun” to watch. Who knows for sure what the coach saw that piqued his interest. However, the Jayhawks’ offense definitely becomes more aesthetically pleasing when Harris, the redshirt freshman point guard from Columbia, Mo., is on the court.

For the season, Harris is only averaging 15.3 minutes a game, contributing 1.9 points and 2.3 assists. But his role already has expanded significantly in the past week, following Bryce Thompson getting sidelined due to a broken finger. Harris played 20 minutes at Baylor and 21 at Oklahoma.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Harris isn’t someone you turn to for his scoring, but when he’s on the floor the Jayhawks have an old school, pass-first point guard who goes out of his way to keep the ball moving and is at his best creating shots for everyone around him.

His instincts as a passer will only help KU find more opportunities to get out and score in transition, too, because Harris doesn’t overthink anything with the ball in his hands. Reading the court and reacting come simultaneously and naturally for him, whether that’s off a KU defensive rebound and outlet or in a half court set.

Even better for Harris’ case, adding him to any KU lineup isn’t disruptive. He blends in perfectly. breaks down every roster in college basketball by looking at each player’s percentage of possessions used (%Poss). The measure gives credit or blame to a player when he ends a possession by making a shot, missing a shot that doesn’t turn into an offensive rebound or commits a turnover. With a %Poss of 10.1%, Harris falls into the KenPom category of “nearly invisible.”

Self’s hope to “stir it up and try something different” may or may not mean a change to the Jayhawks’ starting lineup. Regardless of the specifics of the tinkering going on behind the scenes, Harris has shown in recent spurts he can make an impact for KU even as a non-shooting threat (11-for-25 from the floor, 3-for-5 on 3-pointers during his first college season).

KU actually outscored No. 2 Baylor, 37-36, when Harris played in that Jan. 18 matchup in Waco, Texas. Even his dunk attempt on a fast break that went down in the final stats as a block for Mark Vital was an instance of Harris showing his moxie. That was a young player trying to inject his squad with some life. Here’s betting next time he won’t waste any milliseconds glancing back to see who’s coming behind him; Harris will just go in for the jam.

Baylor guard Mark Vital pressures the shot of Kansas guard Dajuan Harris, left, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Waco, Texas. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

Baylor guard Mark Vital pressures the shot of Kansas guard Dajuan Harris, left, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Waco, Texas. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP) by Associated Press

In the loss at OU, two of the Jayhawks’ best lineups featured Harris, too. When he was in with Marcus Garrett, Christian Braun, Ochai Agbaji and Jalen Wilson in a five guard-lineup (7:40 in total), KU outscored the Sooners, 11-7. And during the 3:15 Harris played with Garrett, Agabji, Wilson and Mitch Lightfoot, KU had an 11-6 advantage.

Who would Harris hypothetically replace in the starting lineup? It wouldn't be Garrett or Agbaji. But you could make a case for any of the other three starters — Braun, Wilson or David McCormack — turning into a sub and still playing close to his normal minutes.

Even if Self ultimately keeps Harris as a reserve, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the team’s true point guard seeing an increase in minutes with Self and his staff also pinpointing the lineups where the young and at times — depending on the opponent’s lineup — undersized Harris fits in best.

And with No. 15 KU’s next game coming Thursday versus TCU, a team KU dismantled on Jan. 5 with Harris filling in for the injured Garrett, this is the perfect time to introduce Harris to a more extensive role.

Dajuan Harris in KU’s past 5 games

(Lineup combination played at least 1:30 together in listed game)

Jan. 5 at TCU — 27 minutes, 7 points, 7 assists, 1 turnover

On court: +26 (KU 71, TCU 45) / Off court: +3 (KU 22, TCU 19)

KU lineups with Harris:

• Harris, Braun, Wilson, Agbaji, McCormack — 46-24, KU, in 15:19

• Harris, Braun, Wilson, Enaruna, Lightfoot — 6-4, TCU, in 3:24

• Harris, Wilson, Enaruna, Agbaji, Lightfoot — 5-2, TCU, in 2:37

• Harris, Grant-Foster, Braun, Wilson, McCormack — 7-6, KU, in 2:18

• Harris, Braun, Wilson, Agbaji, Lightfoot — 8-2, KU, in 1:39

Jan. 9 vs. Oklahoma — 10 minutes, 0 points, 1 assist, 2 turnovers

On court: -2 (OU 15, KU 13) / Off court: +6 (KU 50, OU 44)

KU lineups with Harris:

• Harris, Braun, Enaruna, Agbaji, Lightfoot — 9-1, KU, in 2:12

• Harris, Garrett, Braun, Agbaji, McCormack — 4-0, OU, in 2:03

Jan. 12 at Oklahoma State — 6 minutes, 0 points, 0 turnovers

On court: -10 (OSU 16, KU 6) / Off court: +5 (KU 64, OSU 59)

KU lineups with Harris:

• Harris, Garrett, Wilson, Thompson, McCormack — 11-4, OSU, in 3:39

Jan. 18 at Baylor — 20 minutes, 2 points, 1 assist, 1 turnover

On court: +1 (KU 37, BU 36) / Off court: -9 (BU 41, KU 32)

KU lineups with Harris:

• Harris, Garrett, Enaruna, Agbaji, Lightfoot — 10-8, BU, in 4:27

• Harris, Garrett, Braun, Agbaji, McCormack — 7-0, KU, in 3:36

• Harris, Garrett, Braun, Agbaji, Lightfoot — 4-2, BU, in 2:56

• Harris, Garrett, Braun, Wilson, McCormack — 6-3, KU, in 2:27

Jan. 23 at Oklahoma — 21 minutes, 5 points, 4 assists, 0 turnovers

On court: Even (KU 38, OU 38) / Off court: -7 (OU 37, KU 30)

KU lineups with Harris:

• Harris, Garrett, Braun, Wilson, Agbaji — 11-7, KU, in 7:40

• Harris, Garrett, Wilson, Agbaji, Lightfoot — 11-6, KU, in 3:15

• Harris, Braun, Wilson, Agbaji, Lightfoot — 9-4, OU, in 2:18

• Harris, Garrett, Wilson, Agbaji, McCormack — 4-2, KU, in 1:54

• Harris, Garrett, Braun, Enaruna, Lightfoot — 2-0, OU, in 1:51

• Harris, Garrett, Braun, Enaruna, Agbaji — 8-6, KU, in 1:30

Reply 5 comments from Brjam Njjayhawk Robert  Brock Bee Bee West_virginia_hawk Surrealku

Undersized Dajuan Harris didn’t need to hit a shot to have an enormous impact vs. Kentucky

Kansas redshirt freshman Dajuan Harris defends the ball during a game against Saint Joseph's on Friday Nov. 27, 2020. The Jayhawks earned a 94-72 win over the Hawks in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida.

Kansas redshirt freshman Dajuan Harris defends the ball during a game against Saint Joseph's on Friday Nov. 27, 2020. The Jayhawks earned a 94-72 win over the Hawks in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida. by Photo by Chris Tilley

In a primetime battle between two traditional college basketball powerhouses, a redshirt freshman guard who lacked the size and wingspan of most of the players on the court helped carry Kansas past Kentucky.

Dajuan Harris, all 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds of him, didn’t even make a field goal for the Jayhawks in a 65-62 win Tuesday night at the Champions Classic. But everything else the backup point guard did made it possible for KU to win.

Other than Jalen Wilson, who handled much of KU’s scoring load on a double-double night (23 points and 10 rebounds) for the other redshirt freshman, Harris, head coach Bill Self declared, was the best player in the game.

That’s because, along with Wilson, Harris allows KU to unlock its best lineup, a five-guard combination that spreads the floor and moves the ball on offense, and can switch every screen defensively.

Harris’ final stat line read: two points (0-for-1 field goals, 2-for-2 free throws), one rebound, five assists, four steals, one block and no turnovers in 25 minutes. And over in the plus/minus column, the slight guard with the knack for making winning plays posted a team-best plus-12. KU outscored Kentucky, 53-41 when Harris was in, and the Wildcats held a 21-12 advantage when Harris sat.

How does a young player, especially at his size, come in on such a stage and impact the outcome of the game against No. 20 Kentucky?

Self during his postgame video press conference provided a rundown of all that Harris provides when he steps on the floor.

“He’s a great charge-taker. He’s got the best hands. He doesn’t really try to do much offensively except move the ball, which every team needs somebody like that,” Self began.

“His understanding defensively and his hands are terrific. He had four steals and I don’t know how many other deflections he had led to potential steals or steals,” Self added. “I thought he was great, and I’m really happy for him.”

Harris, who only played three minutes versus Gonzaga and 16 against St. Joseph’s, essentially became KU’s fifth starter against Kentucky, as Self again turned to five guard lineups when starting junior big man David McCormack ran into some issues against UK’s long and athletic front court.

As it got late in the second half, and No. 7 KU trailed Kentucky, 49-45, with 6:41 to go, Self subbed in Harris and Wilson for McCormack and Bryce Thompson.

Before long both igniters were making game-altering plays, just in different fashions. For Harris, a true old school, pass-first point guard, that meant hitting Wilson for a made 3-pointer, calmly knocking down a pair of free throws and securing a steal — and making the pass — that led to an Ochai Agbaji breakaway jam, as KU built a five-point lead a little more than four minutes after Harris and Wilson checked in.

Wilson called Harris’ impact “phenomenal.”

“That’s two games in a row when Dajuan has came in when we need a spark off the bench and he’s given us everything that we need,” Wilson said. “It’s nothing shocking to me. I see ’Juan do this every day in practice, and I hope he continues to do this.”

Agbaji has known Harris dating back to before their time as KU teammates, as both players came up through the MOKAN AAU program. The junior thought the young guard was “special” versus Kentucky. And Agbaji thinks Harris can sustain his early season success, too.

“I’ve known him for awhile. I know that this is how he plays, just his IQ,” Agbaji said. “And the way he thinks and breaks down the game is great.”

Self described KU as “tiny” compared to Kentucky. But that’s perfect for these Jayhawks, who actually play their best with the 6-8 Wilson serving as the small ball stretch-5 and the undersized Harris utilizing his instincts on both ends of the floor.

As Agbaji pointed out, playing Harris also takes some pressure off of senior Marcus Garrett as the point guard.

Self used the five lineup of Harris, Garrett, Christian Braun, Agbaji and Wilson more than any other combination in the win, and that group outscored UK, 40-29, in 16:01 of action.

KU would’ve been in real trouble without Wilson’s scoring. But the Jayhawks needed Harris’ unselfishness and intangibles just as much.

“I thought he was really good tonight,” Self reiterated, “and certainly we don’t win the game without him.”

Reply 5 comments from Navyhawk Dale Rogers Dirk Medema Gh1992