BETHANY — Back when he was a skinny 5-foot-10 freshman at Midwest City, Omega Harris earned a starting job because of his ability to see the basketball court, distribute the ball and play defense.
After moving to Putnam City West, Harris’ game only expanded as he became one of the most feared scorers in the state. He could drive to the basket seemingly at will, or knock down 3-pointers from deep.
Harris averaged 18.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists as a senior, leading PC West to a state runner-up finish and earning The Oklahoman’s Big All-City Boys Player of the Year honors.
Though his game and his body have changed — he’s now a muscular 6-foot-3 — Harris hasn’t lost those skills that made him special as a freshman. And they’re going to be called on once again as he prepares for his college career at UTEP under coach Tim Floyd.
“Playing point guard is what I was born to do,” Harris said. “I can go score when I want, but I like to set the offense up.
“When I made my college decision, I wanted to go where I was needed. They needed a point guard, and I’m gonna bring them a point guard.”
Of course, the point guard Harris has become is more out of the Russell Westbrook mold, a distributor who can slash, shoot and create for himself or others.
“You can’t hold a thoroughbred back,” PC West coach Lenny Bert said. “He’s strong, athletic, he can shoot the ball. He can be that type of point guard who can do a lot of things for you.”
Outsiders might question Harris’ character, because of a midseason suspension for a violation of school rules. He missed two weeks of class and multiple basketball games. But off-court behavior has never been a real concern with Harris.
“He was never in trouble once in three years playing for me,” Bert said. “He’s a good student and a good kid.”
And the hardest worker Bert has ever been around in 14 years as a coach.
“He puts people in awe with the way he works out,” Bert said. “But it’s not work to him. He thrives off of doing it. Running, lifting, getting up shots, whatever. I’ve never seen a work ethic like it.
“I’ve been around a lot of guys who had NBA potential. I’m not saying Omega is going to the NBA, but I don’t know what his limit is. Once he matures, the sky’s the limit.”