CAVA­LIERS

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports -

From small-town Che­lan, Wash., Har­ris was first re­cruited by Ben­nett when the coach was at Wash­ing­ton State. Har­ris de­cided to play for Ben­nett no mat­ter where the coach landed. That meant an un­ex­pected re­lo­ca­tion to Char­lottesville for the self-de­scribed home­body.

Har­ris, the team’s sec­ond-lead­ing scorer at 11.5 points per game, joked that even if he was tempted to leave, his par­ents, Joe and Alice, would never al­low it.

The light­est-re­cruited mem­ber of the group, Mitchell, from Char­lotte, N.C., fought through home­sick­ness as a fresh­man. He called his fa­ther, An­thony, al­most ev­ery day. But Mitchell re­called how he was cut from teams in sev­enth, eighth and ninth grades, not play­ing or­ga­nized bas­ket­ball un­til he was a high school sopho­more. He didn’t quit and, this sea­son, started 14 games at for­ward.

“Col­lege is tough for any­body,” Har­ris said of the de­par­tures. “You have pres­sure you weren’t used to. At the same time, you’re home­sick and maybe you’re not get­ting the op­por­tu­nity [on the court] you should be get­ting. So you want to try some­thing new.”

Har­ris, a thick pad and black tape pro­tect­ing the bro­ken bone in his left hand, looked around the locker room at the sur­vivors. Tele­vi­sion crews queued up for in­ter­views. He won­dered if any of it would sink in by Fri­day’s 2:10 p.m. tipoff.

Back on Sun­day, Har­ris, Mitchell and the rest of the team watched Vir­ginia’s name flash on CBS’ se­lec­tion show. Ex­cite­ment mixed with re­lief. They had been un­cer­tain if they’d make it.

Har­ris and Mitchell weren’t par­tic­u­larly close when they first ar­rived at the univer­sity. Cir­cum­stances changed that.

As Vir­ginia’s name lin­gered on the tele­vi­sion, they ex­changed a glance.

“We looked at each other,” Mitchell said, “and knew we stuck through it.”

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