So he played in France, made his way to Germany and eventually returned to the States, playing in the NBA Development League.
A roster invitation from Miami provided the perfect opportunity to lay the groundwork. Network with a respected organization, work hard every day and leave an impression.
“He worked his tail off every single day in camp and when he got his opportunities in preseason, he showed he could play in this league,” LeBron James said. “It's great to see a kid work hard and get his dream to play in this league.”
Although he's eternally grateful for a spot in the NBA, Harris' dream isn't fully realized.
During Miami's 103-87 loss to Oklahoma City on Sunday night, Harris was the only healthy Heat player in street clothes.
For now, that won't change. And he's fine with that.
“Couldn't be in a better situation,” Harris said. “If you want to grow, for a rookie this is probably the best possible place. You've got veterans galore here and I think that's really beneficial to me.”
But down the road, Harris hopes to crack a rotation.
Though small, he has an impressive sample. With Wade and James injured on Jan. 5, Harris entered the lineup and produced nine points, 14 rebounds and six assists in a 116-109 win over Atlanta.
When the stars returned to the court, he returned to end of the bench. For now.
“He's got the talent, now he just needs the knowledge,” forward Shane Battier said. “That comes with experience in the league. As long as he continues to work on his game and understand what the NBA is about, I think he's got a chance.”