New Hope’s Harris follows passion to HPU

Nov. 15, 2013 @ 12:13 AM

Katherine Harris changed her attitude toward playing basketball on June 21.

That was the day her friend Celeste Burgess was killed in an automobile accident on the way to making a recruiting visit to Auburn.

“I’m playing with more passion,” Harris, a senior guard for New Hope Christian, said. “Playing means a lot more to me now. I’ll never take anything for granted again because it could all be gone in a minute.”

Harris will be taking her passion to High Point University to play for the Panthers next season, after being one of three members of the Phoenix to sign their National Letters Intent in a ceremony Wednesday in the gym on the Millis Home campus that serves as NHC’s home court.

Akelas Maize, a 6-5 center from Greensboro, signed with N.C. State while Kristina King, a 6-2 forward  from Mebane, inked with West Virginia.

Harris, who needs to score 60 points to have 1,000 for her high school career, committed to the Panthers during her junior season, when she was more of a shooting guard. She moves to the point following the graduation last year of her friend, Sarah Beal, who now plays at Providence and got Harris interested in NHC as a possible way to increase her chances of earning a scholarship.

Harris picked HPU for a variety of reasons.

“It’s a nice school,” Harris said. “I love the coaches, the basketball is good in the Big South, and hopefully High Point can win a championship. And, the No. 1 thing is academics.”

She also likes the guard-oriented system that Panthers coach DeUnna Hendrix has put in place.

“I like to run and play the point,” Harris said. “That’s what Kayla Keys and Tayler Tremblay are doing now.”

Tremblay is a senior.

“I like how she pushes the ball,” Harris said. “I want to have her (jersey) number because it’s No. 1 and follow in her footsteps.”

Hendrix believes Harris can fit right into that mold.

“She’s all energy,” Hendrix said. She plays at 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. She’ll help us spread the floor. She can shoot the 3 and score off the bounce.

“She could fit in Tayler’s footsteps. She’s got a winner’s mentality,  playing for one of the best high school teams in the country, and she’s a worker so I know she’ll come in and work for her spot.”

Maize, who came to NHC after playing for coach Delaney Rudd in AAU ball, attracted attention from Harvard, Stanford, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, West Virginia and Virginia Tech. She committed to the Wolfpack in July, in part, because of the relative closeness to Greensboro.

“I’ve got relatives in Raleigh, so there is that connection and it will be a short commute for my family to attend games,” Maize, who played her previous three years at Dudley, said. “And it felt like home when I visited there. The team really welcomed me on my visit.”

She’s also intrigued about the possibility of making the Wolfpack a factor in the ACC again under new coach Wes Moore.

“I like the tradition that Kay Yow brought to the program and hope that I can help State return to that level,” Maize said. “Coach Moore did a good job of turning around Chattanooga.”

One of four players signed by the Wolfpack this week, Maize also has the prospect of playing right away. All three of State’s players 6-2 or taller are seniors and Maize was the only one taller than 6-1 among State’s four signees.

“We love Akela’s length and her ability to run the floor,” Moore said in a release. “Sometimes it is hard to find someone at that height who is able to get up and down the court in transition, so we’re excited about that.”

King, a Mebane resident who has played under Rudd since eight grade at Oak Ridge Academy, picked West Virginia over State and also considered Georgetown, Baylor and Virginia Tech.

“There was a family environment,” King said. “I liked how the heach coach Mike Carey works with and teaches his players.”