With the terrific summer that he has produced, much has come to be expected of Elias Harris. With the European Championships beginning tomorrow, we had the terrific opportunity to check in with Elias.
In the year and half that we have been working on this blog, we have had the opportunity to interview superstar recruits, collegiate head coaches, and future NBA players. With that said, when I was able to reach out to Elias Harris and schedule this interview, there was a sense of excitement and intrigue that I don't remember ever feeling before an interview. Despite only seeing clips and hearing limited reports, Elias has becoming one of the most intriguing prospects in recent years. Back in October, all anyone knew was that he was playing in the third division of German basketball and was putting up some nice stats. Now, Elias is going to represent the German National team in the European Championships beginning September 7th. Even with his extraordinarily busy schedule, Elias was able to take the time to answer some questions and give us a background on how Gonzaga entered the picture in his recruitment. Once again, Slipper Still Fits would like to thank Elias for making time out of his schedule to answer these questions.
Slipper Still Fits: When did the Gonzaga coaches begin to show interest in you and talk with you? How did they hear about you being that you live and play in Germany?
Elias Harris: The whole recruiting process started last year around September or October. Tommy Loyd called Thorsten Daum, the Head Coach of USC Heidelberg (they are in close contact) a small club near my hometown Speyer, and he told him that I might be interesting for Gonzaga.
Slipper Still Fits: Had you heard about Gonzaga and the basketball program? Were you surprised that the coaches had heard of you and knew how talented pf a prospect you were?
Elias Harris: Yes, of course I have heard about the Gonzaga basketball program :-). Names like John Stockton, Ronny Turiaf and Adam Morrison are also big over here in Germany/Europe. I was really surprised when Tommy called me the first time and told me that he wanted to come over to see a game. And I was even more excited after he told me that I have the potential to play for Gonzaga.
Slipper Still Fits: Many European basketball players choose to sign professional contracts instead of coming to the states to play basketball. Why did you decide to come and play basketball at Gonzaga instead of signing a professional contract in Europe?
Elias Harris: The problem in Germany is that young talented players don't get enough playing time and trust from the coaches. Instead the clubs get foreign players with more experience. So I decided for myself, it would be the best thing to bring my basketball skills to the next and higher level and go to Gonzaga.
Slipper Still Fits: You were able to come and visit Gonzaga this past February. What did you think of the campus, and the coaches, and the fans. Was it what you were expecting?
Elias Harris: I was impressed by everything. I liked the campus and the feeling to become part of something that huge. But what I liked best was the game against Memphis. I have never seen so many people supporting one team like the Zag Fans did that night - That's just about the limit.
Slipper Still Fits: Had you heard of any interest from other colleges in the USA about playing here? If so, why did you choose Gonzaga over those other schools?
Elias Harris: Yes, I had a some interest from other colleges. For example Washington, Cincinnati, Delaware etc. But I have chosen Gonzaga over the other colleges because it's a smaller community which means there is a bigger overview and more control for every single student.
Slipper Still Fits: This summer you have had the chance to play for the German National team. What has been your favorite memory and experience from this summer?
Elias Harris: I don’t really have a favorite memory because there are lots of memories and experiences that you get from a European championship.
Slipper Still Fits: Were you surprised that you were called up to play for the German Senior National team this summer?
Elias Harris: No, not really. My coach, Dirk Bauermann, told me last year that I would have a good chance to make the Senior National team. But he also told me that I need to work even harder at my ball game to be ready to compete at the European top level.
Slipper Still Fits: What position are you most comfortable and successful playing on the basketball court? Are there any NBA or European players that you try and play like?
Elias Harris: I prefer to play SF and PF. I don't know of any NBA or European player who you can compare me with.
Slipper Still Fits: Is there any area of basketball that you are focusing on getting better at?
Elias Harris: I really need to work on my shot and the rest is going to get better during my hard practice at Gonzaga.
Slipper Still Fits: In the next couple of weeks, there is the European Championships. What would it mean to you to be selected to play in that tournament for Germany? (Editors note- Elias has been selected to play in this tournament)
Elias Harris: It would be a very big honor and would make me proud. And I would have the chance to play against Ronny Turiaf and a couple other NBA players.
Slipper Still Fits: When are you expecting to arrive at Gonzaga to begin school and start playing with the team?
Elias Harris: It depends on how far we’re going to advance in the European championship. But I will try to be on campus as soon as possible so that I can pick up my studies and start playing with the team.
Slipper Still Fits note: I think the part of this interview that has me to excited is the modesty and fire that Elias is coming to Gonzaga with. You just get the sense that Elias is coming here to improve and help lead this program to great heights. Also, by making the German squad for the European Championships, Elias will be coming to Spokane is top notch game shape, which should give him an excellent opportunity to push for that starting PF spot. Lots of credit must be given to Tommy Lloyd, who is one of the top evaluators of European talent.