MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Everyone has a story. Some stories are tougher than others but those upbringings are what shape people into who they become. For some of those people, they don’t find the strength to rise past life’s tribulations.
However, West Virginia’s Wesley Harris finds strength in his past and his family’s struggles.
Growing up poor is what motivates and fuels the fire that burns inside the redshirt sophomore.
As a child, life was anything but easy for Harris.
“You ever go to sleep without eating?” he asked. “It was real often for me.”
Harris saw one way to get out of poverty for his family and that ticket was basketball.
The 6-foot-8, 200-pound sophomore played high school basketball alongside Kansas’ Malik Newman. It was while Newman was being recruited that Harris realized he had a shot.
“When I found out I had a chance and that I was kind of good,” Harris said. “When my high school coach told me in 11th grade when Calipari was recruiting Malik, he told me that if I was a year younger, the way I was playing he would of gave me a scholarship that day. So I told myself I need to start working harder.”
During his tenure at Callaway High School, Harris was a part of something special.
“We won four in a row, my ninth through my 12 grade year, state champions
and we was No.1 and No.2 in the nation so I guess we were kind of good,” he said.
As a senior, he averaged 10.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. After high school Harris attended Northeast Mississippi Community College, where he averaged 18.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest.
The increase in production was due to finally getting a shot to show his talents.
“I wasn’t playing behind anybody,” Harris said. “I could bring more to the table. I worked on my game during that summer, tried to develop a lot of my skills that I didn’t really need to do when I was in high school because I was behind the right player on my team.”
For his sophomore campaign, the Jackson, Mississippi native transferred to Lawson State in Birmingham, Alabama. However, several injuries caused Harris to miss the entire season.
Missing last season turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the lanky forward.
“Me sitting out and redshirting my second year of JUCO was definitely worth it,” he said.
But Bob Huggins knew the Mountaineers could use someone like Harris.
“I knew we needed athleticism,” Huggins said. “I knew we needed length and he had both of those things. He’s been, I don’t want to say a surprise but he’s really been good to coach. He wants to be a good player. He listens. He asks intelligent questions. And we really need his length and he’s our best rebounder right now. He gets more hard rebounds and rebounds than anybody does.”
Having extra motivation is never a bad thing when trying to be successful.
“He’s just a good kid,” he said. “He listens. He tries to do the right thing. He’s like a lot of guys. They want to go make some money playing basketball eventually and that’s really not a bad motivator.”
Hard work and stability are Harris’ focus.
“Consistency comes with working on your game outside of practice,” he said. “The more dedicated you are the more consistent you will be.”
For Harris, he knows the way to the top isn’t easy but he’s determined to get there.
“You get out what you put in,” Harris said. “So if you put in a lot of work, you are going to get the rewards. If you don’t work you can’t expect nothing to come from it.”
Cover Photo Credit: USA Today Sports