May 29, 2009
Incoming Santa Clara freshman basketball forward, Niyi Harrison, who graduated from Bellarmine on Sat., May 23, is ready to join the Bronco basketball team. So ready, he is taking the first session of summer school. Harrison, the San Jose Mercury News 2008 Junior of the Year and 2009 Senior of the Year, averaged 18 ppg and 8 rpg for Bellarmine this past season.
One thing Bronco fans will notice right away about Niyi Harrison is he smiles a lot and has a laugh that makes other people want to join in. Below Harrison talks about why substitute teachers call him Mr. Harrison, what he'll miss about high school, what he enjoyed about head coach Kerry Keating when he was recruiting him and who impresses him at open gym. And he does all the talking by smiling all the way.
Welcome Niyi Harrison!
SCU: Your name, Niyi - is pronounced "Knee" correct? I bet people pronounce that some crazy ways. What is the best one you've heard? Were you named after someone?
NH: My full name is Adeniyi - which is what my mom calls me - but most other people call me Niyi. If it's a substitute teacher, they'll say Mr. Harrison and not even try to say my first name. Then I'll say it for them. People say Nigh-eye most of the time. I wasn't named after anyone.
SCU: You graduated from high school on May 23rd. Feel pretty good to have graduated from Bellarmine?
NH: Yes, it because I get to come to Santa Clara early and get started. Graduation is mostly fun, but once you think about it - the friendships you've had that won't be the same - it's sad, but mostly it's a good feeling.
SCU: How has Bellarmine prepared you for the next step?
NH: I personally haven't seen it yet because I haven't taken any classes on the college level. But I've heard from alums that the classes are very similar so it's like taking another year at Bellarmine. I should be ready for all the homework and projects. A lot of Bellarmine alums have told me that other people have a tough transition, but they've told me that I should have a smooth transition because I've taken a lot of college prep classes.
SCU: What is the best part of graduating from high school? The worst?
NH: Starting college is the best part. Like I said earlier, the relationships you've built for four years in high school will never be the same and that's the worst part.
SCU: You played basketball at Bellarmine. Did you play any other sports while you were there?
NH: I competed on the track team my freshman year. I competed in the triple jump, high jump and the 400m. It was hard.
SCU: What was your favorite class this semester?
NH: That's tough. But probably Economics because it was one of the classes I was really interested in. I personally wanted to know more about it. It wasn't just a class I had to take. So when I was in there, I wanted to pay more attention and know more about the topic.
SCU: So, now that you are done - what do you do with your summer? Will you and your family go on a vacation?
NH: My brother and I like to go to San Francisco and just hang out. We do that a lot - every other weekend or so. I was just there this past weekend. We go to Union Square or Haight-Ashbury.
SCU: Are you a San Francisco sports fan or Oakland?
NH: I would say I am more of an Oakland sports fan. The A's tickets are cheaper and the stadium is closer. I'm not a big baseball fan, but when I do go it's usually to an A's game. I am a Raiders fan definitely. Big Raiders fan! I know we are going through some hard times, but they will come around. My favorite Raider is Darren McFadden - he should have won the Heisman, but Tim Tebow got it instead.
SCU: Will you go to summer school at Santa Clara? When do you start?
NH: I am taking summer school and I start June 15. I have two weeks left of totally free summer. I am taking Calculus. I know that I'm a better Math student than an English student.
SCU: You have played open gym a few times with the Bronco players. Who impressed you?
NH: Well, Kevin Foster. Everyone knows about Kevin. Kevin is amazing. I usually play against and guard Ben Dowdell. He is good, he's strong and it's making me that much better. Everybody out there is pretty good. I look forward to playing with the new guys. I played with Ray Cowels last year. I am excited to get to know everybody and see how they play.
SCU: Any predictions for this next year?
NH: We have to see how we play first. We are going to be a young team. Hopefully that won't effect how well we play.
SCU: What were a couple reasons you chose Santa Clara?
NH: On a recruiting standpoint as a basketball player, Coach Keating. I know I will do well playing for him. I like a coach that will push you and won't settle for less. They will say you will do this, you do that and you succeed. I know he will set me up for success. Santa Clara also has great academics, is an up-and-coming basketball program and its location was perfect. Just all those things put together.
SCU: Is there anything Coach Keating has said to you that has stuck in your mind?
NH: During my visits here, he was constantly talking about the NCAA Tournament, which is something I obviously want to play in. His determination to get there and succeed in the tournament is something I want to be a part of.
SCU: What are you most looking forward to about college? Any idea what you will major in?
NH: Playing basketball (smiles). Accounting or Finance. I am leaning towards Finance now because of what I've heard about Accounting, but I'm not exactly sure yet.
SCU: It will be fun to look at this four years from now. What do you want to do when you graduate from Santa Clara?
NH: I want to be playing basketball. Maybe continue playing for a living. But other than that, I'm not sure. I want to own a business, but I'm not sure what kind of business. But I would like to work for myself. But I have no idea how all of that will work out.
SCU: Who is your favorite college player? NBA player?
NH: I like Blake Griffin, but everyone knows of him so I want to pick someone different. I love John Bryant. Earl Clark of Louisville. He is one of my favorite players. Terrence Williams of Louisville as well. They had some good players this year. I like forwards, slasher-types, athletic players. That's my type of player.
LeBron James, definitely. I like Rudy Gay of the Grizzlies. I like Al Horford of the Hawks. I like Anthony Randolph of the Warriors. He and Ronnie Turiaf were at our Gonzaga game. I like Dwayne Wade. There are a lot of players so it's hard to come up with one.
SCU: Who do you root for in the playoffs?
NH: The Cavaliers definitely, but they are struggling right now.
SCU: Who do you think will be in the finals?
NH: I want it to be the Lakers and the Cavs so we can settle the Kobe-LeBron debate once and for all. But it's looking like the Magic will make it out of the East, but we will see what happens.
SCU: OK - this will be a favorites question. Favorite color? Movie? TV show?
NH: Favorite colors? Gray and Red.
Favorite movies? Depends on the type of movie because I have a lot. Action? Spiderman 3. Comedy? I have a lot, but I'd say Pineapple Express. It was hilarious. Forgetting Sara Marshall and Superbad. Any movie with Seth Rogen is pretty funny. I really like Jonah Hill, who is the chubby guy with curly hair.
TV Show? Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I watch a lot of TV, but being on the spot it's hard to say. I watch a lot of CSI. I watch all those little stupid shows on VH1 - Flavor of Love, all those shows. I watch a lot of ESPN.
Favorite book? I read Fight Club this year and it was really good. It was a book before a movie. I read On the Road by Jack Kerouac. It's a book about San Francisco during the beat movement in the 1960s and 70s. It talks about him on a long road trip so he is all over the place.
SCU: Anybody you want to throw a shout-out to?
NH: (laughs). My brothers. My mom and dad for putting up with me. And all the former players I played with at Bellarmine, over the summer and AAU. And of course the coaches who helped me get here to Santa Clara. And of course the Bronco fans (smiles big). I want to make sure they come out to the games this year!