Bucks’ No. 1 pick has some connections with team

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Greg Logan
Friday, June 24, 2011
— Throughout the anxious minutes of the first round of the NBA draft last night at Prudential Center, Tobias Harris sat in the stands with his family looking sharp in a charcoal suit and light blue shirt, showing no sign of nerves. When some of the top small forwards began to come off the board in the middle of the round, he simply propped his chin in his left hand.

Then came pick No. 19, a selection that belonged to Charlotte when the long day began but reportedly had been traded to Milwaukee as part of a three-team deal. When commissioner David Stern said, “Charlotte selects Tobias Harris,” the freshman from Tennessee simply leaned back and smiled while family and friends around him exchanged hugs and handshakes.

He had done it. He had made it to the NBA. There was a moment of confusion over his exact destination, but it soon became clear he was headed to Milwaukee to play for the Bucks, the last team he worked out for on Tuesday.

Harris was not immediately available to the media after the selection was announced because the trade had yet to be made official. But his father Torrel said, “This is a blessed day. I really like the fit in Milwaukee with Brandon Jennings.”

The elder Harris, who is a former basketball agent, saw another connection that might have had something to do with his son’s fate. Noting that Kelvin Sampson is an assistant on the Bucks’ staff, Harris said, “When Tobias was in the eighth grade, Kelvin Sampson offered him a scholarship to Indiana.”

Sampson no longer coaches the Hoosiers, but he’ll finally have a chance to work with the 6-8, 225-pound Harris, who averaged 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds at Tennessee.

and helped the Volunteers reach the NCAA Tournament. If there was any disappointment that a young player with as much upside as Harris lasted longer than forwards Markieff and Marcus Morris, Kawhi Leonard and Chris Singleton who were chosen with four of the six picks immediately before him, it didn’t show.

Asked about his son’s calm reaction, Torrel Harris said, “Tobias doesn’t get nervous. It required a lot of teams to pass on him, but it feels great. I was surprised by some of the small forwards who went ahead of him because he outplayed a lot of them in the workouts. Tobias is going to have an impact.”

While Tobias headed to the podium to be introduced, the rest of his family basked in the moment. Besides his mother Lisa, Tobias was joined by his brothers Torrel Jr., 27; Tyler (who is headed to N.C. State), 17; and Terry, 15. Sisters Tesia, 21, who just completed her redshirt year at St. John’s, and Tori, 11, also were there to support him. They weren’t nearly as raucous as the Jimmer Fredette fans seated five rows higher in their section, but they were just as happy.

“I’ve been on a lot of his workout trips, trying to be there and give him support,” Torrel Jr. said. “It’s important for us all to be there for him.”

Added Torrel Sr.: “It’s a blessing by God. All his hard work paid off.”

Last updated: 5:35 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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