Tobias Harris and his family left Lexington earlier today and, at some point thereafter, Torrel Harris sent me a text message which read: “Fans were UNBELIEVABLE!” That message got me really excited to hear what kind of experience he had, since he was able to get an up-close and personal look as his son visited the University of Kentucky, the nation’s most glorified basketball program, on probably one of the most historic dates in the University’s long history. Later in the day I received a call from Torrel and got the chance to pick his brain about just what that unique experience entailed.
Torrel told me a story about Tobias’ earlier trip to Maryland’s Midnight Madness two years ago, where Gary Williams came driving out in a White Lamborghini. That trip left a lasting impression on the younger Harris, but after Friday night’s experience, Torrel asked his son, “Out of all your visits to Midnight Madnesses, which one is your favorite?” Tobias quickly answered that Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness had now taken over the top spot.
Here’s some of the other highlights of our discussion:
DR: What all did you guys do through your first day there on Friday?
Torrel Harris: We got there on Friday. Then after the Madness, we didn’t really do nothing. We went back to the hotel and Tobias went and played ping-pong and hung out with the guys.
DR: What did Tobias say about hanging out with the guys? Did he have a good time?
Torrel Harris: Yeah, the guys are great. He got along real good with the guys. They played ping-pong and just hung out at the [Joe B Hall Wildcat] Lodge. Him, Kyrie, Michael Gilchrist, Achraf went out there. It was cool. He had a real good time out there.
DR: Who hosted Tobias while he was there?
Torrel Harris: I think Patrick Patterson was his host.
DR: After Friday Night, what did you guys do the rest of the weekend?
Torrel Harris: Saturday we watched practice at 9 in the morning. From 9 o’ clock to 11. After that, we all went and met with the academic advisor, Michael Stone. Then we went back to the practice and watched the second workout and practice. We just hung out there and watched. Practice was great and Cal is great. He’s going to get this team top notch. And then after that we went back to the hotel and then went to get dinner in the evening time. Patrick Patterson and the staff were at dinner. Then Sunday we just went to breakfast with the staff and went to practice and then left to go catch our flight. Oh yeah, after dinner on Saturday Tobias went back and hung out with the guys again. He just went and hung out with them in the Lodge. Yeah, so it was a good trip. It was really pretty good. Lot of excitement down there at Kentucky. Big time…Big time!!
DR: As far as seeing the team play and getting to see the team practice, what kind of feel did you guys get for how Tobias would fit in with this system here at Kentucky?
Torrel Harris: He would fit in good with the dribble drive offense. He can hit the jump shot, he can shoot from outside, he can handle. Yeah that dribble drive offense is good. It’s a good offense. Coach Cal, you know, he’s just a good coach and that’s the bottom line, he’s just a great coach. You gotta hit that outside jump shot in that dribble drive offense, and you gotta penetrate. If he can do those things, then that offense is a perfect fit for you, if you can do those things.
DR: Anything else that just really stood out to guys during the visit?
Torrel Harris: The fans stood out. I mean, they were just UN-BE-LIEVE-ABLE. And then just the teaching techniques of the staff, of Coach Cal and of just his whole staff. For me, that stood out. That stood out for Tobias too. You can tell the fans are unbelievable. I videotaped the whole thing and you can tell man, they LOVE their UK basketball. 24,000 fans up there for Madness, man that is unbelievable. So, I mean, it was great man, it was great.
DR: What did Tobias have to say about the fans?
Torrel Harris: Unbelievable.
DR: So what about your wife? I know that she wasn’t able to make it last time so what did she think about the visit?
Torrel Harris: She’s impressed with the academics and everything. She’s impressed with Coach Calipari. So she’s impressed. The bottom line is that I could love it, she could love it but the ultimate is Tobias and his decision that he makes. I mean you can’t go wrong when you get a coach like Coach Calipari. You just can’t go wrong, you know? Great guy, great family man, Christian man. You just can’t go wrong. Cal’s the man! He’s a great guy.
DR: At this point in the visits, has there been anybody that Tobias has said to you that he liked more than the others or are they still all getting equal treatment?
Torrel Harris: All the schools that we picked for the final 7, he loved all those schools so he’s just taking his time and analyzing this trip and four more trips after that and then after the last one, which is Georgia Tech, then he’s going to try to make a decision if he feels comfortable that he can make a decision. Or if he feels like he wants to wait and watch the college season first and spend more time on it, he might because we really want to make sure. But I think he’s going to make a decision before the November 18th signing period. …All indications are that he wants to make a decision before his high school basketball season starts, which is the 18th.