What’s in a name? Two Josiahs entered Bob Huggins’ program over the offseason. Josiah Davis and Josiah Harris.
Both are freshmen. Both played high school basketball roughly three hours from Morgantown, give or take 20 minutes, depending on if you’re headed north or south.
Davis is a native of Canada but played high school ball at Teays Valley Christian School in Putnam County, West Virginia. Harris, on the other hand, was born in Canton, Ohio, and became a nationally-rated player at Richmond Heights High School just outside of Cleveland.
Davis has assumed the nickname JD. Harris, well, has one of two nicknames he goes by.
“They call me Jojo, or Bean, it doesn’t matter,” Harris said. “Growing up my head was really big. They said it looked like a bean, so they called me Jojo Bean. So, that’s where it came from.”
Harris came to WVU in the offseason after a standout high school career. He averaged a double-double as both a junior and senior, and saw an uptick in scoring in his final high school season. Harris was rated as a four-star prospect by ESPN, and was among the top 160 players in his recruiting class, according to both 247Sports and Rivals.
The appeal was obvious to interested teams. But what brought Harris to West Virginia?
“I get to play for a legendary coach. I mean, not everybody gets to play for a Hall of Fame coach, and learn from him,” Harris said. “And I love the atmosphere at West Virginia. We don’t have a pro team, so I feel like West Virginia, this is the pro team. And everybody gathers to watch them, and the fan base is like no other. So, it was a no-brainer for me.”
Harris is familiar with Huggins, stating he grew up not far from Walsh University – the Bear’s first head coaching gig.
The freshman forward joins a program coming off of a 16-17 season. Including Harris, nine players are on Huggins’ roster who were not a year ago. Despite this largely being a new team, there is a plethora of veteran voices.
“They take me under their wing as a little bro, and like they just tell me a lot of stories about how they were playing, and things I should look for while being on the court, and things to avoid,” said Harris. “It’s a lot of knowledge to obtain this year, so I’m just looking at it like that.”
Harris is not only learning the ropes of college basketball, and trying to earn as many minutes in Huggins’ rotation as possible, but he’s doing so while coming back from an injury he suffered in one of the biggest games of his basketball career to date.
“It was terrible getting injured in the state championship game,” said Harris, who later described the circumstances of the injury. “It was like the first play of the game. I was going in for a rebound, and someone pushed me in my back. I slipped on the court, and my leg just like, it popped. So, I fractured my patella.”
Luckily for WVU, the 6-foot, 7-inch forward says he’s “all the way back.” He said he feels 100 percent, calling it a blessing. In his first action in front of fans at WVU, he scored six points and grabbed six rebounds in 13 minutes of action during an exhibition versus Bowling Green last week.
It’s a credit to Harris for taking care of himself, both in rehabbing and in the overall training of his body.
“That’s something that my parents have passed down to me, just saying ‘Work your hardest. Don’t let your God-given talents go to waste. So always just be in the gym, and try to be the best version of yourself,'” Harris said of his work ethic. “That’s what I’m trying to do here.”
A player who could be described affectionately as a gym rat, Harris appreciates that he now doesn’t have to sneak past custodians or other adults to get in a gym. At WVU, he has access to the practice facility as often as he pleases.
He’s been in the gym a lot, putting in all the extra time he can to better his craft and fight for a role on the team. He’s battling plenty of teammates for minutes, but he looks at that battle this way.
“I’m trying to win. I know everyone on this team is trying to win, we’re winners,” said Harris. “Iron sharpens iron. And, whatever it takes to win and get to that national championship, that’s what we have to do.”