HHS Class of 2002
Photos Courtesy: NBAEGetty
Photo Courtesy: Michael Harris
Photo Courtesy: Rice University
Michael Harris was born in Hillsboro on June 15, 1983, to Cheryl Spencer and Wendell Harris. At an early age his mom, who was 6'3" and had been a "baller" in high school, began to take him to Peabody. There she showed him how to shoot, to never take handouts, and always work for what you want. Michael’s mother, grandmother (Vera Russell), and aunt (Debra Russell) taught him about being respectful, getting good grades, and about not letting others get in the way of your dreams.
Michael didn't have much ability in basketball throughout his freshman year. But with help from his cousin and role model John Russell and his closest friend's brothers (Steve McGuire and Nick Garner) Harris and his friends were able to stay together and he began to get better as everyone else got better. An extremely incredible growth spurt from 5'8 to 6'3 in the freshman year to sophomore year helped also. After that Harris knew he wanted to play this game a little while longer and with the help of his friends, working out every day, and playing at the Peabody court every night until the lights came on Harris was able to get some toughness and understanding of what it takes to get to the next level.
During his senior season, Harris put together some impressive numbers by averaging 26.8 points, 18.7 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. He also shot 68 percent from the field. Harris also led the Eagles to the third round of the state playoffs. For his efforts, Harris was named Player of the Year by the Central Texas Coaches Association, the District 8-3A Most Valuable Player, Second Team All-State by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches and First Team Central Texas by the Waco Tribune-Herald. Michael also played in the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Game in 2001. He was selected as the North Team MVP and also won the Dunk Contest.
Though Michael had a great senior year he was only offered some partial scholarships to attend major colleges. He did receive some full ride offers to some mid-major schools. Because he enjoyed school, Michael did not want to miss school to go on official college visits. Michael visited Rice University and knew that where he wanted to continue his education and athletic career.
Michael made an immediate impact on the basketball team at Rice. Harris was selected as a College Insider freshman All-American and was the WAC freshman of the year in 2002. He was selected to the 2003 Western Athletic Conference Second Team during his sophomore season and was selected to the WAC First Team during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Michael led Rice in scoring, field goals, field goal percentage, and double-doubles in 2003, 2004, and 2005. He also led the team in rebounding in 2004 and 2005. Michal also ranked 4th nationally in rebounding (11.7) and 11th in scoring (.608) during his senior year at Rice. The 2004 and 2005 seasons also saw Michael receiving First Team All-NABC and USBWA All-District VII awards and Billy Wohn Award. He finished his senior season on the WAC All-Tournament Team and was selected as an All-American by CollegeInsider.com. Michael finished his career at Rice University as a four-year letterman, and as the school’s all-time leading scorer (2,014 points) and rebounder (1, 111 rebounds).
Thursday, May 12, 2005 was proclaimed Michael Harris Day.
Michael has had a long-running professional career. He played initially for BC Kyiv of the Ukrainian Super League during the 2005-06 season. The Milwaukee Bucks signed Harris in the 2006-07 NBA pre-season. He averaged 6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in their five preseason games. Harris then spent the 2006-07 season with the Colorado 14ers of the NBA D-League. He averaged 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.54 blocks per game in 48 games with the 14ers.
Michael signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Houston Rockets on July 13, 2008. He averaged 5 points and 6 rebounds per game in Houston's first two preseason games. He was waived by the Rockets before the season started. He then went and played for the Dongguan New Century Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). There he averaged 28 minutes played per game, with 24.3 points and 11.6 rebounds per game in 25 games played. After the CBA season was over, Harris signed a 10-day NBA contract with the Houston Rockets on March 9, 2008, and after that he earned a contract from the club for the remainder of the season, with a team option for the next season.
In the 2009-2010 season, Harris was signed by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League. After averaging 25.3 points with the Vipers, he was again signed by the Houston Rockets. In January Harris was waived by Houston. Later in the season, Harris played for the Washington Wizards, before returning to the Vipers. March 2010, he again signed with the Houston Rockets for another short stint. He was soon re-assigned to the Vipers in April. As the season ended, Harris was named the 2009-10 NBADL MVP.
The 2012-13 season saw Michael sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He also played with the Jiangsu Nangang Dragons of China. At the end of the Chinese season, he traveled to Puerto Rico and joined the Leones de Ponce. He earned the Most Valuable Player of the league due to the fact that he averaged 20.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
Michael signed with the Utah Jazz for the 2013-14 season. He was waived after 20 games. He then signed with Zhejiang Golden Bulls of China in January. He remained in the CBA until the end of the season. He then returned to Leones de Ponce of Puerto Rico. Harris led his team to the championship that season and was awarded the series MVP. In 2014-15 CBA season he returned to China and signed with Qingdao DoubleStar. In April 2015 he re-signed with Leones de Ponce.
The Hall of Fame Committee is very proud to add such an outstanding individual as Michael Harris to the Athletic Hall of Fame. Congratulations on your accomplishments and being a member of the Hillsboro High School Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2015.