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March 21, 2014

On The Rebound: Rooting for the one that left

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Do you remember Ryan Harrow’s last SEC Tournament game?

Last year in UK’s  semifinal loss to Vanderbilt, Harrow’s 2-of-15 shooting pretty much assured the Wildcats were headed to the NIT. That combined with a first-round NIT loss to Robert Morris had nearly every UK fan rejoicing when Harrow transferred to Georgia State.

The reason for Harrow’s transfer was reported to have been the health issues of his father, but some conspiracy theorists are convinced Cal pushed him out the door so a pair of twins could walk in the door. Harrow was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA, an organization that has no history of being considerate of an individual player’s personal issues.

Harrow appeared headed for the NCAA Tournament when Georgia Southern won a school –record 14-straight games and finished with a 25-9 record. They also won the Sun Belt conference, but an overtime loss in the conference tournament championship sent Harrow back to the NIT.

Harrow told reporter Trey Iles that playing in the postseason this year brought back the not-so-pleasant memories.

“I actually had nightmares last night about the SEC Tournament thinking, “How am I going to play in the tournament,” Harrow said.

Harrow averaged 17.2 points and 4.4 assists in the regular season. Those are solid numbers, granted he was playing teams like Troy and Louisiana-Lafayette instead of Florida and LSU.

In the tournament championship, Harrow scored 37 points with seven rebounds and two assists. It wasn’t enough as the Panthers lost in overtime. It was a career high for Harrow, who missed an off-balance bank shot in the final seconds that would have won the game.

So it looks like Harrows only trip to the Final Four will be in 2012 with Kentucky. The Wildcats won it all that year, but Harrow was not eligible after transferring from North Carolina State. He even had to pay his own way to the tournament.

Watching Harrow in the first round of the NIT, you could see glimpse of the talent that made him so highly recruited. There might still be a professional basketball future at some level. Chances are he will never hear the applause or boos again like he heard at the University of Kentucky.

There are few things as widely followed and hyped as UK basketball. Family might not get the publicity of a major college basketball team or the stars that are worshipped by millions of fans. Still no team is as a big or important as a true family. It looks like Harrow made the right choice. Just ask his dad, who only had to drive 10 miles to see his son play.

mhoward@sentinel-echo.com

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