Sunday, October 2, 2011

Holt Harmon Trading in Royal Blue for Big Red

Harmon trading in royal blue for Big Red

By Kevin Hageland
Plano Star Courier
October 1, 2011
After being offered by more than 30 schools, Plano West senior forward Holt Harmon lined up four official visits.He only needed to go on one of them.

That one official visit was to Ithaca, N.Y. and the campus of Cornell.

"I had been there twice on unofficial visits and liked it," Harmon said, "so I think I was almost trying to reassure myself."

Harmon didn't have to convince members of his family.

"My sister Kendall came up with me on my unofficial visit earlier to Cornell and was very enthusiastic about wanting me to go," Harmon said.

Harmon got more of the true campus experience on his official visit two weeks ago.

"No one was really there when I made my unofficial visits," Harmon said. "But on this one I got to spend a lot of time with the guys on the team and we went out to the Cornell-Bucknell football game. I could really picture myself going to school there."

Harmon had ensuing weekend visits lined up with Utah St., Santa Barbara and Boston University, but cancelled those and verbally committed to the Big Red.

"I'm definitely glad to have it all wrapped up," Harmon said. "I wouldn't have changed a thing, but it was tough having to let some people down and the process is a bit more stressful than you might think it would be."

Harmon's mother Katherine was quick to agree.

"We watched the process of the parents that went ahead of us," she said, "but it's very overwhelming once you get involved."

And the family has been involved for many years as Harmon made the West varsity team as a freshman and is also a starter for Texas Assault, a high-level AAU squad. The continuous playoff appearances of the former no doubt got Harmon noticed, but so did the tournament performances of the latter. Harmon's Texas Assault squad also featured the Flower Mound Marcus duo of Phil Forte and Marcus Smart, both of whom recently committed to Oklahoma State.

"Playing with guys like that demands attention," Harmon said. "Our team was always getting to the finals days and final games of these tournaments and that helps you get seen because you would be playing in front of maybe 100 college coaches."

Harmon did himself a service in that regard as his big first half helped Texas Assault defeat Dream Vision (California), 93-78, in the finals of the Adidas Super 64. The championship game in Las Vegas was broadcast on CBS College Sports. Not long after that, the 6-foot-8, 240-pounder moved up to No. 32 on the Texas rankings for the Class of 2012.

And for Harmon's varsity coach, it was easy to see why.

"Holt is a four-year letterman and his play during that time has allowed us to build around him," said Anthony Morgan, West head coach. "Holt is great around the block, plus he can step out and shoot the three. And then I think schools saw that Holt would be coming in at 240 as a freshman; you just don't see many guys already built like that."

While those attributes pushed schools toward Harmon, the West senior was looking for more from his prospective college than just basketball.

"Holt is a very goal-oriented person," Mrs. Harmon said. "He laid out a list of what was important to him and lined up visits with the schools that fit that list."

Cornell jumped to the top based on its Ivy League status as well as its renowned business school as Harmon would like to get into sports management following graduation.

"Academically, Cornell has one of the top five business schools in the world," Harmon said. "I am going to be able to get a degree that really means something out in the world."

Harmon is hoping to take a degree with him, but also leave a legacy on the court.

"We have been winning our league," Harmon said, "but I would love to be part of the first Cornell team to make it to the Elite 8 or even the Final 4. This team went to the Sweet 16 (in 2010), so it can happen."

Harmon shares that same line of thinking when it comes to his senior season at West.

"We've got a good core of the team back, plus some great new players, so we are expecting big things," he said. "I'm working on honing my leadership for the team, but the skills for us are there, we just all need to work hard."

Look for Harmon to do his part as hard work has punched his ticket to the Ivy League.

"It's been exciting to see Holt reach all these milestones," Mrs. Harmon said, "and now here he is going to Cornell."

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