Denton: Harris Has Rooting Interest in NCAA Tournament

Tobias Harris

By John Denton
March 18, 2014

OAKLAND – Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris will be filling out his NCAA bracket later this week with his heart instead of his head, and he makes no apologies about that. Of course, Harris wants to see his alma mater, Tennessee, do well in the NCAA Tournament and he thinks that the Vols will get past Iowa in first-round play on Wednesday night.

Harris also has a rooting interest in the tournament with Providence what with his younger brother, Tyler Harris, playing in a prominent role for the Friars. After sitting out last season following his transfer from N.C. State, the 6-foot-9, 215-pound Harris has averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds a game. A starter at power forward, Tyler helped Providence defeat Creighton and win the Big East.

Tobias and Tyler live together in Orlando in the summer and they usually go through pre-dawn and late-night workout sessions together to improve their skills. And when they play one-on-one games, the battles get pretty intense. Tobias said he couldn’t be happier that Tyler has landed on a team where his skills can be showcased.

``He’s worked so hard in his college career, transferring from N.C. State and sitting out last year. I’m so glad that his team made the tournament and I’m wishing them success,’’ Tobias said. ``We’re always going at it. He pushes me to try and do the drills better than me, so that motivates me. And I push him really hard. In our one-on-one games, I don’t really like playing him because it always ends up in an argument or a fight. But it’s all love and I just want him to be the best player that he can be. I want him to continue to grow.’’

Harris said when he does fill out a bracket he just might have Tennessee and Providence meeting in the championship game. An ardent Tennessee fan, Harris still tweets during most Tennessee games and often wears bright orange gear around the Magic’s headquarters.

``I’ll pick my teams, Tennessee and Providence. Those are the only two teams I’m worried about in my bracket,’’ he said. ``Everybody else can just catch `Ls’ because all I want is Tennessee and Providence to do well because of my brother and the school I went to. It’s a good bracket with some good sleepers. I have to do some research on some of the teams I haven’t heard of and see if I can catch some upsets.’’

As for 20-year-old Tyler, Tobias said he can see a day coming real soon when the two brothers are going against one another in the NBA.

``Obviously that’s one of his goals,’’ Tobias said. ``He’s just got to keep working real hard. But I look for him to be in the NBA real soon.’’

OLADIPO PRAISE: When Golden State coach Mark Jackson walked into the pregame chapel service held in Orlando in late December he got to meet Magic rookie guard Victor Oladipo for the first time. And Jackson was taken aback a bit by Oladipo’s impressive physical stature.

``I remember shaking his hand and I’m like, `my goodness’ because of his size and strength,’’ Jackson said. ``He’s a tremendous athlete and he’s going to be a handful to deal with for a long time.’’

Jackson, who played for seven NBA teams from 1987 through 2004, knows a thing or two about playing the point guard position. He finished his career third all-time in assists with 10,334. He sees no problem at all with the Magic trying to play Oladipo at both the shooting guard and point guard positions.

``He’s a heck of a basketball player with a tremendous future in front of him,’’ Jackson said. ``He’s a guy that didn’t come in this league with many miles as far as the point guard position, but watching him from a distance … he’s a big-time talent. A great pick by (the Magic) and that position is going to be sealed for a long time.’’

DEDMON FINDS A HOME: It’s been quite a wild ride this year in professional basketball for Dewayne Dedmon, but it ended just the way he wanted: With a contract at the NBA level for the rest of the season.

Following two 10-day stints with the Magic, Dedmon was signed for the rest of the season. Clearly, the Magic see something in the 7-foot, 255-pound center who has played six minutes in three games so far.

``It’s definitely a good feeling anytime that you are able to get a contract for the rest of the season,’’ said Dedmon, who played his college ball at USC. ``Every time I step on the court, I take it as an opportunity to showcase what I can do. Whether it’s practice, a minute in a game or 30 seconds in a game, it’s a chance for me to showcase what I can do. I try to take advantage of it.’’

Dedmon spent time this season with Warriors, 76ers and Magic in between stints in the NBA’s Developmental League. He’s happy that he can settle into a team with the Magic for the next month.

``I’ve been on three teams this year, so to be able to call this place home for the rest of the season, it’s nice,’’ he said. ``It’s a great feeling. It’s really unbelievable. It’s been a crazy rookie season for me, being on three NBA teams and in the D-League. So to be able to call a place home for the rest of the year is definitely nice.’’