Few players in all of Division I college basketball were asked to do as much as Nevada's Jalen Harris. That's life for elite in mid-major programs: Get the ball to the star and get out of the way.
Things, however, will look very different for Harris next season playing for his new team, the Toronto Raptors.
After selecting a guard in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft, the Raptors opted to add even more depth to their backcourt, selecting the 6-foot-5, 195-pound Harris at No. 59.
Coming out of high school, Harris was a recruiting afterthought, ranked 359th in the 2016 class by 247Sports. He spent his first two college seasons at Louisiana Tech, first as a role player coming off the bench and then briefly as a starter in his 11-game 2017-18 campaign. It was then that he decided to transfer to Nevada for the 2019-20 season.
In Reno, things clicked for the 22-year-old Harris. He averaged a team-high 21.7 points with 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists per game, and an astonishing 32.7% usage rate, among the highest in all of DI basketball.
"He is a big-time athlete who does a lot of different types of play-making, whether it's attacking, he's really comfortable with the ball in his hands," Toronto Raptors assistant general manager Dan Tolzman said of Harris on Wednesday night.
Growing up, Harris said he primarily played point guard, the position he prefers to play. In high school, he said he was forced to play more off-ball because of his size, and that continued into his college career. It forced him to become more multi-faceted, learning to create both on and off-ball at times and both for himself and others.
"I think I’m really comfortable at the one and at the two," he said. "I’m very versatile, I think that’s one thing that Toronto can expect from me, is somebody that can do a lot of everything."
Tolzman said he sees Harris as more of a big two-guard, someone who can shoot from deep or put the ball on the floor and attack the rim for a bucket or a foul.
There's are no questions about Harris' ability to score. His 21.7 points per game ranked 14th in D1 basketball. Instead, it's all the other aspects of the game that teams are less certain about and that he's determined to show off at the NBA level.
"A lot of what I had to do is score," Harris said of his Nevada career. "I did some creating for other, I did a lot of other things, I tried to stay around the ball and do things like that, but I think my creativity, like my ways to get other people the ball, get other people involved, being able to create for others and also being able to guard on the defensive end, multiple positions, I think those are two areas that a lot of Toronto fans can look forward to seeing."
Those other areas of his game are things that the Raptors should have no problem helping him with. The team has one of the premier developmental programs in the NBA and Harris said he's excited to get to work training with the Raptors' staff
“You can see it in Pascal and VanVleet, all these different guys who have taken a similar path to the one I did and it just makes me excited," he said. "There’s not many other, not any other organizations like this."