There is a giant brewing in the Colonial Athletic Association. Georgia State is landing giants at a rapid pace. Rashanti Harris, a 6-foot-8, 238-pound center from Mississippi, committed to Rod Barnes and the Panthers on Friday.
According to Paula Wilson, Harris's coach with the Columbus Titans, Barnes has developed a long relationship with the No. 26 ranked player in the class of 2009.
"He has known coach Barnes since eighth grade. He knew him when he was at Ole Miss. Coach Barnes was one of the first coaches to recruit him when he was at Ole Miss," Wilson said. "He continued to call him when he went to Oklahoma [as an assistant coach] and then now at Georgia State. Coach Barnes has gotten to know their family really well…He had developed a great relationship with them."
Assistant coach William Small also played a big role in Harris's recruitment. Small also helped secure three-star center James Vincent, who committed to the program last weekend. The two make up for the best incoming frontline so far in the CAA.
For Georgia State, Harris is a major addition and should help significantly after his prep year at Patterson in North Carolina. The Panthers have a player that could potentially play in the pros, Harris said.
"The sky is the limit for Rashanti," Harris said. "He wanted to go somewhere that he could play and thrive. I think the smaller setting is perfect for him, especially academically. It can allow him to have more attention in the classroom. That played a big factor as well."
Harris looked hard at Memphis, Wilson says, but things changed when the Tigers had a couple of coaching changes in the off-season.
"Rashanti had developed a good relationship with coach [Derek Kellogg] but he left to UMass, I guess that transition changed things. Plus, I know they just signed a big man from Miami-Dade Junior College," Wilson said. "That changed things a little bit."
Wilson said Harris saw the decision DeMarcus Cousins made by committing to UAB and liked the idea of playing at a small school and having a bigger impact earlier on. Harris will certainly have an impact at Georgia State.