By LARRY VAUGHT
At this time a year ago Emmie Harris was on spring break in Florida enjoying the beach and sunshine. She never thought of going to a gym to shoot basketball.
Today, though, the Boyle County senior is all about basketball. She stayed home for spring break so she can play in the Kentucky-Ohio All-Star Basketball Game Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Thomas More College.
“I would probably have thought you were crazy if you told me I would be doing this a year ago,” said Harris. “I didn’t even know what sport I would play in college or what level. A lot has happened in a year.”
And a lot more is going to happen.
She won the Wendy’s High School Heisman in Kentucky for her grade-point average (4.08), community service and excellence in three sports — soccer, basketball and track.
She broke the all-time career scoring record for any Boyle basketball player and earned all-state honors by averaging 26.3 points per game and shot 47.6 percent from the field and almost 70 percent at the foul line.
Harris also verbally committed to Utah State and will sign her Division I scholarship papers next week at the high school.
Now she’s getting set for three straight weekends of basketball — a first for her in the month of April. After the Kentucky-Ohio All-Star Game, she will play in the Spaulding/Dawahares KABC East-West All-Star Game at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington (the girls game starts at 6 p.m. and Danville senior Alyvia Walker will be on her team along with Franklin County standout Princess Stewart).
“I am really excited about the Kentucky-Ohio game. It is a great opportunity for me to be in that game. I don’t know much about the Ohio team, but I am sure they will probably be good,” Harris said. “The East-West is a big deal. I played one year in the East-West soccer game and now to get to do it for basketball is big.”
She should be one of about 35 players getting an invitation this week to try out for the Kentucky all-star team that will play Indiana June 10 and 11. The tryout will be April 23 at Franklin County High School.
“That would be a great honor to receive,” she said.
Harris is juggling her track schedule — she won gold medals in three event at the Class AA state meet last year — around her basketball.
“The whole rest of track season and before I go to college I will have a ball in my hands most of the time and be in the gym a lot,” she said. “I will miss a couple of track meets, but not conference or regional. So it should all be good.”
She hopes to repeat as 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles champion. She was on the winning 4×400 relay team last year like she also was as a freshman.
This year she’s even throwing the discus for the first time.
“It is going pretty good. Hopefully I might be able to place in state,” she said. “I would like to win the 100, 300 and 4×400 again this year.”
She’s currently tied with former Boyle track standout Cheyenne Evans for the most gold medals at the state meet and would like to break that record this year.
Since her commitment in early March to Utah State, Harris says a lot of people have been happy for her and others have wondered why she wants to go so far from home.
“I just tell them I like it there. But everyone has been supportive and proud, especially my parents and family,” Harris said.
Her sister, Hannah, might be the most supportive. She played soccer at Louisville and will graduate in May with a marketing degree. She’s not only given her younger sister advice about the work ethic that Division I athletics demands, but is already job hunting in Utah.
“She has said she is going to come live with me. I think she may well wind up in Utah, too. She has already applied for internships there. Mom doesn’t like it too much, but I think it would be fun,” Emmie Harris said. “I would not mind having her at all, especially if we could live together my sophomore year.”
Harris has not minded missing spring break this week. She’s worked at Melton’s Deli with her mother and also caught up on school work. She’s taking three advanced placement classes now and if she passes all her exams, will have almost one semester’s worth of college credit before she even gets to Utah State for summer school June 23.
“I have also been in the gym some, something I am not used to doing before because of track,” Harris, who was also a soccer standout and four-year starter for Boyle, said.