When Kain Harris thinks about how to step up his defense, find consistency in his jump shot or better convert in traffic, he simply picks up the phone and dials up a seasoned NBA veteran.
Luckily for the 2015 shooting guard, the person at the end of the other line often answers.
Current Memphis Grizzlies wing Tony Allen, who just so happens to be Harris’ cousin, has long acted as a role model for the 6-4 Chicagoan. Now, he’s a bit of a mentor as well.
Before games, Harris will call for advice. After, he’ll text for feedback. In the winter, the rising senior will watch the Grizzlies play on TV and then ask Allen, who just completed his tenth year in the league, about things he saw.
“I talk to him all the time,” Harris said. “He just tells me to keep working hard … I always like to watch him and see what I can learn from him and maybe I can put it in my game.”
He’s hoping the tutoring will help to give an extra boost to a recruitment that is burgeoning in the summer after his junior year.
Harris, an athlete that works well in the open floor, currently has collected offers from Creighton, Northern Illinois, DePaul, Bradley and South Carolina. Minnesota – specifically Gophers assistant Ben Johnson -- is pursuing the guard in a serious way, but hasn’t offered yet.
This summer he hopes to visit Creighton and would strongly consider making the trip back to Minnesota as well, should the offer arrive.
“They’ve got strong interest,” said Harris of Minnesota’s staff, which began communicating with him last summer. “I can’t do nothing but wait, just keep playing hard and keep getting better.”
On his end, the attraction is there. He kept tabs on the Gophers last year and watched as they claimed the NIT championship in New York.
“I like their system, I think I could fit well it in,” said Harris, who plays for Chicago-based Meanstreets on the AAU circuit. “It’s pretty free, they let you play. I like that a lot.”
In the meantime, Harris benefits from a mature and experienced voice, helping to keep the process in perspective and maintain the work ethic that will shine through. Even better, Allen has arranged for Harris to work out with one of the trainers who has helped him over the years.
“I just take advantage of it,” Harris said. “I’m not a finished product so I just keep working on my overall game.