Aug. 6, 2009
Darrell Harris played for the Rams from 2005-07, transferring to Kingston after two years at Cuyahoga C.C. The Cleveland, Ohio native has enjoyed a fine playing professional career, including being named league MVP in 2007 while playing in Portugal.
Harris spoke with GoRhody.com about his experiences playing overseas, his favorite memories at the Ryan Center, keeping up with the Rams via the internet, and learning the value of goaltending.
You have been playing overseas since graduating from URI in 2007. Talk a little about where you have played and how you did.
Harris: My first stop was in Portugal, playing for a team called Barreirense. I lived in Barreiro, which was about 45 minutes from Lisbon - the capital city. The team struggled - we were in last place - but I played well enough to be named league (UZO Liga) MVP, averaging 18.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. I was MVP of the all-star game as well.
In 2008, I went to a team in the Canary Islands in Spain. Being the new guy on a team of veterans, I didn't play as much as I would have liked. I averaged six rebounds in 10 minutes per game though.
I left Spain and went to Uruguay, playing for Malvin and averaged 11.0 points and nine rebounds. We went to the Final Four of the playoffs. Uruguay was beautiful, my apartment was right on the beach. It was really nice there.
I'm still weighing my options for next year - I have a few options in Europe and back in South America.
Obviously there are major differences between college and professional basketball - especially when playing overseas. What were some of the biggest adjustments that you've had to make?
Harris: For me, it was the food. Everywhere I went, I ended up getting sick at the start. It took me a good week or two before my got stomach used to the food. The time difference also made an effect in the beginning.
On the court, how different is the basketball?
Harris: The rules are a lot different, in terms of what you can get away with. You can carry the ball, they never call palming. They never call traveling either, so everyone uses the LeBron James two-step. Forget about offensive fouls for pushing off when you drive the lane. I used to get whistled for that all the time in America and its perfectly legal down there.
Goaltending is different in international basketball. At first, when I'd shoot, guys would be swatting it off the rim and I was yelling for the call. But I have the hang of it now and give it right back to them.
How are the crowds?
Harris: Every place I've played, the crowds have been unbelievable. Portugal, Spain, and Uruguay are all soccer crazy, but they love basketball, too.
Our arena in Portugal seated about 4,000 and it was always packed. Uruguay used to put 5,000 in the stands and about 10,000 every night in Spain.
You're back on campus this week, working as a counselor at Jim Baron's summer basketball camp. Does it bring back some memories of your two years at Rhode Island?
Harris: Definitely. It is so great to be back here - I miss college, I really do. I think you don't appreciate it until you've been out for a few years.
And I'd do anything for Coach Baron - he's my man. He's helped me and taught me so much. I learned how to be more aggressive and assertive on the court. Without him, I wouldn't have gotten my degree. And he helped me find my agent and set me up overseas.
It's funny, sometimes I didn't quite understand what he was saying or doing why he was making you do it at the time. But when I look back, it makes so much sense. He knows what he's doing and I learned so much from him. I'll do anything for Coach Baron.
How much do you keep tabs on the team?
Harris: I watched the Duke game last year in Spain, cheering and yelling at the guys on the computer screen the whole way. Whenever I can, I watch the games online or read the articles on the internet. Sometimes the games are shown on television. But over there, it's practice-practice-practice, so there's not a lot of free time.
Looking back on your time at Rhode Island, what was your favorite moment?
Harris: Coming back from an ankle sprain my senior year, I missed four or five games and came back at home against Saint Louis.
The crowd was chanting my name - "Dar-rell Harr-is" - and gave me a standing "O" when I checked in. I hit my first two shots, one was a 3-pointer in the corner.
The crowd was amazing. I'll never forget that.
Click here for a November, 2008 article on Harris in Island Connections, an English-language publication in the Canary Islands.