Alex Harris sat down Sunday for a family meeting. After spending the past three weekends roaming
the country, the Lorain (Ohio) High School standout wanted to decide her basketball future.
And when the dust settled, she came back to the first stop and became a part of one of the largest recruiting classes in Penn State history.
“My family and I sat around and we just weighed the pros and cons,” said Harris, who also had Michigan and Louisville among her final three choices. “Overall, Penn State came out on top. I like the program. I love the coaching staff. I love the team. When I went down there for my official visit there was nothing negative about it. It felt like it fit me best.”
Harris, a 6-foot-3 forward, becomes the seventh player to orally commit to Lady Lions coach Coquese Washington’s huge Class of 2013.
Harris joins 5-6 point guard Lindsey Spann (Olney, Md.), 6-1 forward Jenny DeGraaf (Springboro, Ohio), 6-3 forward Peyton Whitted (North Gwinnett, Ga.), 6-2 forward Kaliyah Mitchell (Stone Mountain, Ga.), 5-6 guard KeKe Sevillian (Goodrich, Mich.) and 6-6 center Infiniti Alston (Baltimore) in Washington's largest recruiting class since taking over the program in 2007.
The players are eligible to sign letters-of-intent during the early signing period in November.
While Harris may be the last player in huge class, she is considered to be the Lady Lions’ best signee according to ESPNHoopGurlz’s rankings of players. Harris is rated the No. 46 player overall and the sixth-best power forward in the 2013 class.
She joins Whitted (59), Spann (84) and Mitchell (88) as future Lady Lions who are ranked among the Top 100.
Harris averaged 11.8 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks per game last season for Lorain, which went 17-5. She scored 13 points and corralled 23 rebounds in her team’s final game, a loss in the district semifinals.
“I’m good on the inside as a post player, but at Penn State they want me to play as a forward,” Harris said when asked to evaluate her game. “I’m actually good at handling the ball which is why they want me to play forward, too. I’m a strong all-around player.”
Those skills will fit in with the direction that Washington is taking the program. Washington is looking for strong, athletic players who can run the floor to play in her fast-paced system.
The Lady Lions finished 26-7 last season, their best record under Washington. They won the Big Ten regular- season title and advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
“They’re improving,” Harris said. “They’re going forward. It’s exciting to be a part of that.”
While most of her future teammates were here last weekend for official visits, Harris was in town two weekends earlier.
“The campus is beautiful,” Harris said. “I love the view of the mountains.”
She met fellow Ohioan DeGraaf for the first time during the visit. “I happened to get along with her very well,” Harris said. “I made friends with her.”
She’ll have plenty of other classmates to pal around with after she arrives on campus.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Harris said. “I don’t have a problem coming in with a big class. ... I feel like its going to be a great experience coming in as a big group.”
Harris plans to major in sports medicine and physical therapy, something she was attracted to early thanks to a class in school.
“I’ve always been interested in it,” said Harris. “I’ve learned a couple things, like how to tape ankles and everything. It’s just something that has interested me and I looked into it more.”
She’s happy that Sunday’s meeting yielded an end to the recruiting process.
“It’s a relief,” Harris said. “I kind of liked the attention, but I couldn’t wait to make my decision.”
Now she can’t wait to play for Washington and her assistants Kia Damon, Maren Walseth and Fred Chmiel, who all played a part in landing Harris.
“Getting to know them, I feel like they’re already a part of my family,” she said. “I feel like I’ve known them forever.”
Walt Moody can be reached at 231-4630. Follow him on Twitter @wmoodycdt