By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s already been to Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness. He’s made an unofficial visit to Kansas. He’s played for USA Basketball and was a starter on the 2017 state championship team.
Zion Harmon has done all that — and he’s only a freshman at Adair County this season.
He has several college scholarship offers, a ton of interest from numerous schools and a lot more offers likely to come in the next few months.
“I like the Kentucky program a whole, whole lot,” Harmon said after playing at the McCracken County Mustang Madness Sunday. “I don’t want to speak too much about any colleges right now, but I do have certain ones I am leaning towards.”
One certainly is Kentucky.
“I like what my uncle said, the Kentucky program gives their kids the most opportunity to get to the league. They put so many kids in the league. I feel like it is a great program,” Harmon, a 5-11 point guard averaging 32 points per game this season, said.
His father, Mike, likes Kansas and coach Bill Self because that’s the system he has had his son play.
“Since I was young I have been running his (Self’s ) offense and that’s what developed my left hand, right hand and reads,” Zion Harmon said. “I also took a trip to Vanderbilt. There are a whole lot of colleges out here that are just great. When the time comes, I will make my decision and it will be a good one. Hopefully the best of my career.”
He got a taste of what Kentucky basketball is like at Big Blue Madness. He had played in Rupp Arena last season when he helped Bowling Green win the state title — he transferred to Adair County this year — but Madness was different.
“They treated us so well. We (recruits) walked out, and I didn’t expect it, but everybody started clapping for us. I was walking behind Zion Williamson and Darius Garland and it was just great,” Harmon said. “I didn’t really want to smile. I was trying to act like I was just being cool, but inside there was a big smile because they were clapping for us. It was a great experience.”
Sophomore Kyree Walker of Hillcrest (Ariz.) Prep, an Arizona State commit and the top point guard in the 2020 class, has known Harmon for seven years. He also played at Mustang Madness — but not against Harmon.
“I have played against him a couple of times and have played with him. He is a great player. We get along great. We just bonded, but everybody likes him,” Walker said.
At 5-11, Harmon has a knack for making plays on offense that many opponents don’t anticipate much like Tyler Ulis did at UK.
“He gets what he wants. It’s hard to guard him. He’s quick and how he is with the way he handles the ball, it’s easy for him to score,” Walker said.
Harmon is about a lot more than scoring. He averaged 16.8 points per game for Bowling Green during its state championship run but has had to increase his scoring at Adair. However, he’s averaging close to eight assists per game along with his 32 points.
“The game is just read and react based on what the defense does. I’ve heard rumors where people say I am a ball hog but I average almost 8-10 assists per game. It’s just read and react. You don’t want your other players to feel like they are not getting any shots. While I am scoring, I want to have my other players feel like they are getting their shots, too,” Harmon said.
That attitude is part of what impressed so many last summer when he held the USA under 16 team win the gold medal. He was the first eighth-grader invited to the tryouts.
“I did love playing for USA Basketball. It is just always communicating. Just making sure everybody gets involved in the game. If they do that picks up your intensity, picks up your defense and gives you a better chance to win,” Harmon said. “That’s what I am all about.”
Harmon, age 15, was part of a clinic at Heath Middle School last weekend and demonstrated drills his father and brother had him doing at age 5 when he started playing against older players.
“I always had to be smart about the game. I wasn’t the fastest or the most athletic but we were always in the gym or out in the hot sun or if it was snowing we would shovel the court so we could always get some type of work in,” Harmon said. “I was always doing stuff the right way and having integrity as he (my dad) liked to emphasize. Always do it the right way and you are doing it for God and not for men.”
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