Tony Harris closed out his UT career Friday afternoon in a 70-63 loss to Charlotte in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The former high school phenom from Memphis East played only 20 minutes. He scored four points. He had no assists.
Back in the fall of 1996, when Harris signed with former Vol head coach Kevin ONeill, the conventional wisdom had Harris only sticking around Knoxville for a couple of years at the most. Then he would go on to the fame and fortune that surely awaited him in the National Basketball Association.
But the conventional wisdom was wrong. Things didnt turn out the way Harris wanted. ONeill left the school in a dispute with athletic director Doug Dickey. Jerry Green was hired as the new coach. Almost from the beginning, Harris and Green did not see eye-to-eye.
Who would have guessed the way this would turn out? With Harris being booed by the fans in Knoxville and his own teammates questioning his heart. With the Vols losing eight of their last 10 games. And with talk shows and columnists across the state calling for Green to be fired.
Once thought to be a sure thing, Harris NBA career is very much in doubt. Tony Harris may even go undrafted.
How different things might have been had Harris attended the University of Memphis. When Harris signed with Tennessee it brought an end to the head coaching career of Larry Finch. Harris was a must sign for Finch. When he didnt get him, it provided the last bullet his critics would need. Two months later, in the midst of the 1996-97 season Finch was fired.
And now Harris has finished his career at UT. Not with a bang, but a whimper.
Tony Harris: Four-Year Career
1,588 points (11th on the UT career list)
240 3-point baskets (second)
509 assists (third)
145 steals (sixth).