“One step at a time”.
On the surface, this seems simple. It’s a quote we hear constantly in sports these days but has real-world meaning behind it. Whether it’s coming from a player who is coming back from an injury, one who is dealing with a new setting after being traded or anyone in real life who has been faced with adversity.
Growing up on the suburban streets of Melville, Long Island, the little brother of the “Big Apple”, Andre Harris resembles his hometown. This quote, the same one that was drilled into his head by his mother, motivated him throughout his life. When people thought he was too small or too frail to succeed in sports, his mother’s voice would echo over the doubters.
Growing up as a multi-sport athlete most of his life, basketball was not his first love. Starting out as a lover of America’s game at the age of six, gave Andre the kind of toughness. Wrestling also instilled a work ethic in him at ten, that he believes “pushed me to want to become the best”.
Basketball, on the other hand, didn’t come to him until about sixth grade. His stature and skill fit the build of most current NBA players; tall, lanky, and athletic. Although he said he never thought it would become such a prominent role in his life.
Failing to make the JV squad freshman year hurt and just pushed him to go even harder next time around. He went to games to support his friends but more importantly, went there to observe what the coaches were looking for in their players and how they would utilize a person similar to his size and skill set. Ultimately this worked out in his favor by making the team sophomore year and being an important cog in their success to a 12-6 record.
His varsity experience was much of the same, failing to make it junior year, he made it a mission to not feel the same “frustration and regret” in his final year of eligibility. In his senior year, he flourished becoming one of the leading scorers and 2nd leading rebounder for the team, which put him on the collegiate map.
Andre’s tenacity on the boards and scoring versatility was an eye opener for Suffolk County Community College coach Victor Correa during the recruitment process. Specifically, when speaking to him and assistant coach George Holmes, they both raved about his ability to score inside and out. Coach Correa saying “I’ve never seen someone with his length and slenderness to have such an overwhelming willingness to go inside and take contact”, Coach Holmes nodded his head firmly in agreement. A deciding factor for Andre to stay home and begin his collegiate basketball career locally came down to his emotional ties with his family.
His decision to stay home paid off as he played 2 seasons for Suffolk and came away with a title over their rival community college on the island, Nassau in the process.
Then working his way up to a CUNY school called Baruch. Once part of the team, Andre did what he could to make his presence felt. Working with teammates for hours over the weekend at parks to make sure they were ready for what was coming.
This stood out to head coach John Alesi who said Andre was the best leader in his 7 years at the program. “Andre’s initiative and drive” was something coach Alesi reiterated multiple times in the short I spent with him.
Due to these intangibles that Andre has possessed over the years, led to him earning multiple awards in his short time at Baruch and the number one seed in this year’s CUNYAC Tournament. Andre earned multiple players of the week awards, December Player of the Month in 2018, 2018-2019 CUNYAC First Team All-Star, and 2019 CUNYAC Tournament MVP. En route to the CUNYAC Championship win versus Staten Island, Andre had an efficient 28 points and 6 rebounds on 63% shooting in a 76-74 thriller, resulting in an automatic bid for the NCAA Division III tournament.
Andre isn’t sure what the future holds for him but that’s exactly why what his mom said to him all those years ago sticks so much “Take it one step at a time, because every step serves a purpose in moving forward.”