Cavalier Corner

August 2014

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Page 29 of 48

BY GREG WATERS I T WAS A FITTING END TO THE career of Joe Harris. While 2014 was not his best season on the court in terms of statistics, in terms of leadership, team success, off-the- court recognition and changing the culture of UVa basketball for the foreseeable future, his campaign was without question worthy of recogni- tion as UVa's Male Athlete of the Year. "It's an unbelievable honor," Harris said in a tele- phone interview early in July. Harris led Virginia to the ACC regular-season and tournament titles, and to the program's first NCAA Sweet 16 berth since 1995. The Cavaliers tied a school record with 30 wins and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in school history. The Chelan, Wash., native con- cluded his time at Virginia ranked 11th on Virginia's all-time scoring list with 1,698 points, and second in three-point percentage (40.7 percent) and three- pointers (263). But following a 2013 season where Harris aver- aged a career-high 16.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, what set the two-time All-ACC selection and 2014 ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player apart more than what he did, was what he gave up so that the team might have its most suc- cessful season in more than three decades. "When I came to school at Virginia, earning awards and accolades wasn't something I set out to try and do; it was about trying to change the program around and leave it a better situation than where it was when I arrived," said Harris, who was the centerpiece of head coach Tony Bennett's first recruiting class. While appreciative of the personal recognition, Harris seemed most satisfied with the accomplish- ments and recognition of his team and the posi- tion in which he and his fellow classmates left the program. "I think the reason why we had success was be- cause we realized it was so much bigger than just oneself, it was about us coming together and trying to build something special," Harris said. "That's the reason why we wanted to play for Coach Bennett and get the program headed in the right direction. As long as he's at Virginia, they're going to continue to bring in the right mix of players that fit his system and his philosophy, that finish school, earn their degrees and have success on the basketball court." Harris wasn't just honored for his success on the court, but also for his success as a student at Vir- ginia. Harris received the Louis A. Onesty Memo- rial Scholar-Athlete Award; was named to the 2014 Allstate Good Works Team for community service and improving the lives of others; claimed the Er- nest H. Ern Jr. Award for outstanding contributions to student life at Virginia; and, fittingly, was the co-recipient, along with teammate Akil Mitchell, of the Sidney Young Memorial Award, presented to the PROGRAM CHANGER Joe Harris Led The Way For UVa, On And Off The Court MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR JOE HARRIS

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