The Journey of Newest Sun Shaquille Harrison

by Cody Cunningham

“It’s a marvelous day. Probably the best day of my life, honestly.”

Shaquille Harrison went undrafted in 2016 out of Tulsa, but didn’t let that hold him back from pushing toward his dream. After spending most of the past two season with the NAZ Suns, Harrison was called up to the NBA on a ten-day contract.

“I was happy. I had some tears,” Harrison said. “But I also knew it was go time. Time to go to work and embrace the opportunity.

“Obviously, you pick him up on a ten-day you don’t know what you’re getting 100 percent,” Head Coach Jay Triano said.

Harrison may also not have known what he was going to get. In just his second game NBA game, Harrison was given the task of guarding Portland’s All-Star Damian Lillard in the final minutes of a close game.

Triano’s trust in the rookie allowed for Harrison to feel more comfortable in the big moment. 

“His confidence in me brings out my confidence,” Harrison said. “It’s an honor to be out there with him trusting me. It makes me play even harder because I know I’ve got the trust and he believes in my abilities. It’s easy to go out there and have fun and do what I do.”

In just his first four games, Harrison was already making NBA history. He became the first player to have multiple games of four-plus steals within his first four career games since 2008. He is also the only Suns player to do so since Alvan Adams in 1975.

“The thing with Shaq, is it's not only the things you see on the stat sheet, it’s the effort plays that he’s making,” Devin Booker said. “Diving on the ball, getting steals, getting other people involved.”

Fast-forward through a few more games and past signing his second ten-day contract and Harrison was placed into the starting lineup. Booker missed the game against Hornets and Harrison took his spot as the starting shooting guard.

Once again, he made the most of his opportunity as he scored a career-high 14 points to go along with his four assists, two steals and a block.

Harrison earned the trust from the front office as he was inked to a multi-year contract with the team, but he didn’t find out in the most traditional way.

“Actually my brother called me because I was in a meeting when all this transpired,” Harrison said. “He found out on Twitter and everything. I kind of found out on Twitter.”

It has not been an ideal journey for Harrison, but the work he put in made it that much more rewarding.

“I grinded to be here and it’s not an overnight thing,” Harrison said. “It took years of being in the gym, watching the film and sticking to what I do so it feels good that it paid off.”

“It’s great for a guy like that to bide his time where he has and get his opportunity and not let it slip,” Triano said. “It’s a small window, but he’s done very well in impacting the games that he’s played.” 

Even though the pen has hit the paper, Harrison knows his journey isn’t over yet.

“I can grow in every aspect of my game too,” Harrison said. “Defensively, offensively, shooting, knocking down open shots, so everything honestly. I’m just trying to take it in and continue to grow each and every day.”

The Suns faced the Cavaliers in Harrison’s first game with the new contract as the rookie came off the bench to score 10 points. Whether it’s at practice or in a game, Harrison will continue to provide a spark of energy for the team throughout the final weeks of this season.  

“It’s been amazing,” Harrison said. “We’ve got great guys in the locker room. They embrace me and took me under their wings so I’ve been enjoying my time here so much.”