|Point Guard:  Crenshaw High School||     Los Angeles, California|
For those Wildcat fans who made it out to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl there was also a very good opportunity to not only see a great football game, but perhaps the Wildcats point guard of the future.  Tom Asbury was able to lock up E.J. Harris in the early signing period...and after seeing E.J. in action I am glad he did.   Harris and his Crenshaw team came down to the San Diego area to participate in the Nike Prep Classic, a portion of which was held at Torrey Pines High School in Del Mar.   As you may already be able to tell I was very impressed with the little I saw of Harris and believe he has the opportunity to not only come in and play right away, but also has the skills to make an impact on a team that at this time needs some stability at point guard.
Crenshaw is a powerhouse program in the Los Angeles area that has 8 state championships to their credit.   This season they were ranked as high as #2 in their division in the pre-season polls, and came into the game I watched (a 91-50 victory over Mira Mesa ) with and early season 3-0 mark.   Cougars coach Willie West has led the program since the school opened (over 30 years) and won over 650 games during that time.   He's put his own stamp on Creshaw far beyond the Willie West Pavilion, Crenshaw's home court.  His teams play up tempo, but still do so in a very disciplined-in control fashion. Also, before I go any further I must say a little about the Mira Mesa team.  While the score may lead you to believe they are a lesser team, it should be noted they have two of the better players in the nation in Amon Gordon and Teyo Johnson (who are also great football players).
My initial impression of "The Golden One" (E.J.'s nickname) was not the best in the world.   Mere seconds after the tip-off of the Mira Mesa game Harris took an early, almost ill-advised shot and missed.  Immediately I thought perhaps K-State had recruited a "shoot first, pass second" point guard.   From that point right up the the final buzzer there was not much to question though.   Harris just works well within the system.  He does a great job of distibuting the ball to his other talented teammates and very rarely gives it to them in a position where they can not make a play.   While not the fastest player off the the dribble, Harris just seems to know when he needs to make things happen and take it to the hoop.   In that way he's fairly good at creating his own shot and creating contact to get fouled.  It was hard to tell about E.J's shooting range, but it did not appear he was not a sharp shooter from the outside (his best jumpers would appear to come from 15-17 feet in).  If you are looking for a 3-point bomber I would suggest his teammate, Tommy Johnson.
For all I can say of Harris on the offensive end of the court, I was mildly surprised in his skills on defense.   There's no doubt he was not really challenged by guarding Mira Mesa's point guard one-on-one.  The Mirauders PG was clearly overmatched...but E.J. still showed his quick hands.   He must have forced about five or six turnovers just though aggressively playing the passing lanes and putting pressure on his man to get some steals.   I was hoping to catch E.J. in some of the later games to grade him against tougher competition, however due to conflicts in my work schedule and Harris being injured later I was unable to do so.  Without E.J. availiable Crenshaw is a completely different team.   Perhaps their 0-2 record in the tournament without him speaks volumes about that.   While they were competitive in the later game I watched it was apparent they could have been so much better with him in there.
E.J. finished the Mira Mesa game with 24 points, probably double-digit assists, and as I said before 5-to-6 steals.  In my mind he would be getting a lot more college attention if not signed by the Wildcats so I must once again give the coaches kudos for getting him in and signing him early. Harris simply stand out on a team full of talent.  If only he was available to play this year.