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Former Eagle continues career overseas

Monday, November 12, 2007  
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By Brandon Crews

When the Oklahoma Christian University Eagles failed to make the NAIA National Tournament last year, Keith Harris thought his days of playing basketball were over. But, with a little help from Eagle head coach Dan Hays, Harris has continued his career overseas.

The former NAIA All-American basketball player and Oklahoma Christian graduate averages 28 points per game for the Schwelmer Baskets of Dusseldorf, Germany. Harris, who holds the ninth spot on the Eagles career scoring list with 1700 points, has played professionally in Germany for the past 4 months.

“Right after OC I was kind of at the point where I just wanted to quit basketball and a lot of people were saying it would be hard for an NAIA player to get signed but I got a chance and I took it,” Harris said.

Team volunteer, Matthias Haufer, made the first contact with head coach Dan Hays who then gave Harris, Haufer’s e-mail.

“I got an e-mail from a guy in Germany and I just told him we had some guys interested,” Hays said. “I got the ball rolling, but Keith did the rest.”

Harris told Haufer he was interested and began to gather and send more information until a contract was offered.

“He asked coach Hays to send him some game film and we kept e-mailing,” Harris said. “He called me for a couple weeks about what he expected and then he faxed me a contract.”

The Houston native out of North Shore High School, started three years for Oklahoma Christian averaging over 15 points and six rebounds per game in those final three seasons.

The team provides living arrangements for their players and pays them on a monthly basis.

“My apartment is really nice. One thing I hate is there is no air conditioning system so I have to open the windows to get the air flowing,” Harris said. “In my contract I get paid monthly and they provide the apartment, food, cable, and cover the utilities.”

Harris shares his apartment with one other player.

“I live with a seven foot Canadian guy who doesn’t come out of his room, he just stays in there and plays video games,” Harris said. “It’s very difficult as far as people, it’s a different breed. I told my head coach that I believe in Jesus and he told me he did not believe in God. It was a tough pill to swallow.”

There are ten players on the team, three of them foreign.

“In this division, you can only have three foreigners and in the second division it’s eight,” Harris said.

With his growth at Oklahoma Christian, Harris tries to be an example to his teammates as well as coaches.

“I’m always looking for times where I can throw God’s name in,” Harris said. “I always try to be an example.”

There are three different divisions in Harris’s league and he plays in the third.

“My team was in the first division two years ago but had two bad seasons,” Harris said. “The management is a group of guys who work for free and just volunteer to help this team get back in the first division.”

Harris could have the opportunity to move up to a higher division, depending on how well he does this season. He said some teams from the second division have already expressed interest in him.

An e-mail from the team’s management to coach Hays praised Harris’s efforts. With the success Harris is having, it is possible that he could move up to a higher division.

“The guy said he will be moving up,” Hays said. “It’s great to see Keith be successful. He’s deserving of it.”

Although his statistics show he will have a good chance at moving up, Harris isn’t going to relax in his current success.

“I think at the end of the year I could get a lot of offers to move up, but I’m just going to stay healthy and see what happens,” Harris said.

Harris will stay in Germany for a second season with a guaranteed position with the Baskets, but he will be looking to moving into the second division if the opportunity arises.

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