Posted On: 10/7/17 11:56 AM

Toledo St. Francis surprised us by cracking the Division I AP State Poll a year ago. But, even after graduating a couple valuable seniors, 6’7” forward Jackie Harris (2019) hopes to build on the momentum from last season’s hot start.

“I think the expectations are just as high. I think we still have as much talent as we did last year. And, all we need is people to step up in leadership roles, and we can be just as good,” Harris said.

Those leadership spots that he mentioned are likely to be filled by two juniors, Harris and Jakiel Wells.

“I think [Wells and I] have to lead the way and that’s what Coach [Travis] Lewis is expecting of us and demanding of us right now,” Harris said.

Harris is going to anchor this St. Francis team in the middle, as he’s a solid rebounder and interior finisher. However, he also can make his matchup uncomfortable by stepping outside to hit the jumper.

Going forward, Harris is hoping to become even more dynamic around the three-point line.

As far as defense goes, Harris told us, “I’ve been working on my perimeter defense a lot. We’ve been working on that a lot.”

In regards to offense, Harris said, “Ball-handling, that’s the big thing right now. If I need to, take the ball up the court and get it to a guard. Or, if I can, take it all the way.”

Aside from developing within an emerging high school program, Harris was able to test his skills with Ohio Basketball Club this past grassroots season.

“It was extremely good competition. But it shows what the competition is going to be like at the next level. I felt like, at the beginning it was a little new. But, now, and going into the end of it, I felt like I adjusted to it and I started playing a lot better,” Harris said.

Looking ahead to that next level of basketball, Harris is drawing looks from both D-I and D-II schools right now.

“Actually, my coach, Coach Lewis, told me that Air Force called him about me and that Toledo has been calling and that they’re coming to see me at our next work-out,” Harris said.

“There has been some Division IIs. Lake Erie College sent me some letters in the summer and then Hillsdale College up in Michigan, as well,” Harris said.

Harris is hoping to visit the nearby UT campus “as soon as possible.”

Even though the time is a ways away, when it comes to making a college decision, what will Harris be looking for?

“Just the right coach and the right atmosphere. A place that I feel the most at home. Basically, that’s all,” Harris said.

Currently, Harris carries a 3.3 GPA and is yet to take the ACT.

photo: Toledo Blade/Andy Morrison