The Mikan Drill

To love the game is the greatest of all…

Summer scouting series: Elias Harris

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For my methodology post: click here

For other posts in the series: click here

Now if you read my methodology post you know that I have mainly been working off of the limited selection in the NCAA vault. However, thanks to the guys at ‘The Slipper Still Fits’ leading me to an awesome Gonzaga youtube channel (seen here) we have a much larger set of games to pull from for Harris. That said, this might get a little longer so bear with me.


Jump shooting

One of Harris’ first plays in the first game I watched for this post was a 3 point shot. I was at first a bit surprised at the attempt but Harris is above average at outside shooting. In 51 attempts last season (1.5 per game) he made an average of 45.1%. As you see from the video below, it was not all luck.

Harris has decent form on his jump shot. His feet are square (although they could be a bit wider for a better base) and he can follow through a bit better (but he has nice rotation) but all in all,  his form is solid. He will continue to see this kind of success shooting if he holds this form and defenses will have to respect him on the perimeter.

Offensive moves

Harris loves to drive to the left and per Synergy Sports (by way of Draft Express), about 80% of his drives are to the left, although he often spins back to his right (see below). Harris is often asked to play at the top of the key, with Robert Sacre in the post. He needs to be comfortable handling the ball and although he made some poor decisions last year, he is well on his way to become lethal.

When he does post up, he often relies solely on his strength and size to muscle through his defender and score. In the below clip, watch how he dives right into the defender’s chest, absorbs the contact, finishes and draws the foul. Although this might work against the big men in the WCC, he could use some improvement in his footwork to improve his arsenal.

Finally, let’s take a look at his foul shooting. Since he draws a ton of fouls (5.5/40 minutes), he gets to the line alot. He shot an average of 5.5 foul shots per game last season, at a rate of 67.6%. After seeing the clip below, you may wonder why that is so low:

These two shots could be used as a model for flawless free throws. He has a good knee bend, a straight elbow and nice follow through. Looking at that form, you have to wonder how he only shot 67% last season. There were two things I noticed that contributed to this; similar to his jump shot, he needs to concentrate on following through every time and he has a tendency to fall away from the free throw line.


I think defense is another strength for Harris as he showed he has enough size to bang in the post and enough quickness to defend the perimeter.

In this clip, Harris closes out nicely and slides his feet to stay in front of his defender and cut off his drive. He shows his agility and he shuffles his feet to stay in front and not foul. He only committed 3.5 fouls/40 last season but we will see an explanation for that a bit later.

In the following two clips, watch him battle in the post. He is working hard to half-front the post to cut off the passing angle. In the first clip, he successfully deflects the pass away. In the second clip, Harris uses his quick hands to knock the ball away once the catch is made.

Run the Floor

The final strength I want to touch on today is his ability to run the floor. For a 6’7″, 220 pound forward, he runs the floor nicely. He is quick enough to beat his defender down the floor, which should lead to a bunch of open layup and dunks.

He starts the break around the foul line in the clip (as his man wast at the top of the key) but he hustles down the floor and posts his man up before the rest of the defense can be there for help.


Playing smart defense

I really think (as stated above) that defense as a whole is a strength for Harris. He is versatile as he can guard big men and perimeter players. A weakness I see is his tendency to go for the steal or block, leaving his defense exposed. Let’s take a look at some examples:

As you can see, his tendency to overplay for the steal (which worked in a clip above) can put him and his team at a disadvantage if Harris takes himself out of the play. This goes for leaving his feet on a pump fake as well, which can lead to an open basket or a foul on his teammate. Harris needs to pick his spots to anticipate a steal and become more disciplined to not leave his feet on a pump fake on the perimeter.

Better boxing out

Here is an example of a good box out (both in general and by Harris):

Nice form, keeps his arms down and although he does not get the rebound, he clears out his defender so a teammate can pull down the missed shot. However, let’s take a look at what got him in trouble, which is a poor attempt at a box out.

In these two clips, you can see him throwing a forearm shiver near the neck of the offensive player, instead of turning and getting his butt into the defender.

Not only is this easy to get around, it can lead to intentional fouls being called on Harris. As seen in the second clip, Harris throws a forearm to the neck of Chas McFarland. Call it malice or a dive, fact of the matter is a referee does not look kindly on that kind of contact. When Harris tries to use this move, he opens himself up to not only missed boxouts but intentional fouls (and ejections). He needs to focus more on boxing out as seen in the first clip instead of using his forearm.


I think Harris is an outstanding player. He has the ability to play in the post when he is the center or on the perimeter when he is the #4. He has a decent outside shot and can supplement that with the ability to drive and an average post game.

Draft Express currently slots him at #16 in the 2011 mock draft. I think this is a reasonable projection. He has tons of upside but needs to add some more offensive moves (both on the drive and in the post) to impress NBA scouts. His arsenal is more than enough for right now but he needs to improve some to move up draft boards.

That said, he fits in perfectly with the Gonzaga team this year. He can play alongside the other big men beautifully and brings alot of stuff to the table without taking much away. Look for a big year this year from Harris in the WCC.


Written by Joshua Riddell

August 15, 2010 at 7:41 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Came across your site via google the other day and absolutely adore it. Carry on the truly amazing work.

    Juan Spinner

    August 30, 2010 at 11:00 am

  2. […] already wrote about Elias Harris (here) so I am going to try to get a post up on Sacre and possibly Abouo here in the next week. Keep an […]

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