Tracking a Transfer: Dante Harris

Alright! Back to my favorite part of all of this which is combing through tape. Unlike last season where there was just one transfer coming in (Ben Vander Plas), we have four coming in this year so I’m going to have a lot of writing ahead of me! I’ll do one of these for each of our incoming guys, starting with Dante Harris since he actually committed halfway through this past season and has been practicing with the team. The 6’0″ Point Guard has three years of eligibility left after playing two seasons for Georgetown from 2020-2022. He sat out the beginning of last year and then transferred to Virginia in December, redshirting the season in its entirety.

Heir apparent to Kihei Clark, there are a lot of similarities in their respective games (and many differences). The looming question with relation to Harris, though, is whether or not Reece Beekman will be returning for another season and, if so, how Harris will be utilized as a result. CTB has shown no hesitancy to play two PGs in the past and between Harris’s skillset and experience, I expect him to be a mainstay in the lineup this year either way, but hopefully on more of a rotational basis if Beekman is back. I’ll elaborate more at the end on my hope for his utilization this year once we go through everything. Either way, this is an exciting player who brings some individual accolades with him as well, as he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Big East Tournament in 2021 when he led the Hoyas to their conference championship.

How I do this is to look at quite a few games from players but then to focus on four, watch in their entirety, and pull clips to hopefully give a full view of what to expect from the player or, at least, what they’ve shown so far in their careers. Normally, I will pick all four games from the player’s most recent season, but Georgetown is such an extreme example, which I’ll mention shortly, that instead I picked two from the 2020-2021 season and two from the 2021-2022 season, focusing on some of the best competition that they played against since that’s most parallel to the kind of competition he’ll get in the ACC. Chronologically the games are: #14 Villanova in the Big East Quarterfinals, #17 Creighton in the Big East Final, @ #21 Providence in 2022 in the regular season, and at home vs. #21 UConn in the regular season in 2022. They won both of the tournament games and lost both of the regular season games but, rather than breaking down each game individually, I’m going to be mixing clips from each together to illustrate specific points/aspects of his game, but I’ll definitely try to give a sense of each game along the way. But first…

A Word About Georgetown Basketball Over This Stretch…

This is a tale of two seasons if I’ve ever seen one. The 2020-2021 season was one in which Dante Harris took over as the starting PG midway through the season and progressively saw his role expand throughout the year. With that, Georgetown also saw their quality of play increasingly improve, peaking at the right time to win the Big East Championship to get their conference’s automatic bid (before getting boat raced by a flamethrowing Colorado team in the NCAA Tournament that year). They played well, together, defended well, and Harris was a key focal point through which it all flowed. Everything was clicking for them and these games were a lot of fun to watch.

Meanwhile, the following season couldn’t have been a more different story. 2021-2022 games were downright painful to watch. They played atrocious defense individually and as a team and the offense lacked cohesion, and just felt like players taking turns trying to run a pick and roll. There was a good deal of selfish basketball on the offensive side and, honestly, it didn’t look like the team was having fun or enjoyed playing together. There was a lot less talent and they felt very poorly coached.

Harris, for his part, was a focal point of the team in that first season. He brought the ball up the floor almost every time he was in the game, the offense was, at the very least, initiated by him and often ran through him. He made the team, which had some good players, better on both ends of the floor. He was a focal point of the team and played with confidence. In his second season, on the other hand, he often felt like an afterthought on both ends of the floor. Georgetown switched such that he didn’t even initiate the offense half of the time, instead camping in the corner and watching it run through others. It seemed like they almost just rotated who initiated. He felt much less integrated and much less in rhythm and the players around him weren’t as effective, really in any way. Often he still had good offensive performances, as you’ll see in the UConn game where he shot 7-10 from the floor and 3-4 from the field, but he didn’t score a point until the second half of that game and grabbed a lot of his points forcing the issue trying to get back into a pretty wide-open game. He was often either too deferential or just not as integrated into the offensive flow until he had to be. On the defensive side of the ball they were so bad that their opponents could mostly just avoid him entirely and carve up the Hoyas. But, at times, this caused him to not be as mentally locked in on the defensive side of the ball as well, though he was still capable. In general, teams didn’t test him very often, but I would say we got a much better look at him in that first season because there were fewer alternatives to exploit so easily.

This is why I chose to pull from both seasons, because the most accurate representation of him as a player is probably a combination of both, but hopefully more so when he was at his most engaged and surrounded by teammates who were playing hard and unselfishly – as that’s what we expect to see in Charlottesville. Furthermore, if his reactions on the sideline last year were any indication, he certainly seemed like he had a new lease on life.

Generally speaking, though, Georgetown played pretty fast, 101 in adjusted tempo his first year and 43rd his second. They weren’t afraid to push the pace or to let shots fly but, within that, I thought Harris played an unselfish brand of basketball, rarely looking to rush or force a shot (and when he did, normally when he was in rhythm), being a very willing passer, and playing within their system, which I think does bode well for a transition into our offensive system. Okay, without further ado, then, let’s get into it!


Getting Downhill

The first thing that jumps out about Dante Harris is how insanely quick AND fast he is. I’ve been advised that he was the quickest player on our team last year in practice and it’s easy to see why watching him in these games. His quick twitch, explosiveness, and handle allow for him to create advantage off of the bounce and it stands out in games how difficult it is for defenders to stay in front of him.

Here’s an example against a ranked Providence team in the regular season. This was easily Harris’s worst game of the four I’ve isolated. He was an inefficient 3-11 from the floor and 0-2 from three. He was the least involved offensively of any game I saw, he didn’t seem fully mentally engaged at all times, and you could often see his frustration on the floor at times when the team would make one of many mental mistakes. Nevertheless, he still competed fiercely and this possession was with under 4 minutes left in the game after he’d made a mistake that contributed toward Providence just hitting a three (I’ll cover later). They needed a bucket here to keep the game within reach and Harris takes it on himself, lulling Jared Bynum, who is very quick in his own right before just blowing right by him to the rack with the finish.

The thing about this play is that it’s so simple and it’s against a very quick player. He doesn’t even have to create any lack of balance in his defender, he just waits until Bynum plants his feet flatly for a moment and explodes by him. It was also clearly designed this way to allow space around the rim. You can see the three Hoyas split to the bottom side of the screen with one in the corner to allow for the driving lane. A simple play designed to simply take advantage of Harris’s explosiveness. It left me to wonder if he could get this so easily in a moment like this, why Georgetown didn’t go to it more earlier in the game or really throughout this season.

Here’s a look below from the game against a ranked UConn team later in the year. Now, Harris played a full 37 minutes in this one and ended up going off for 23 points on a super-efficient 7-10 from the floor (we’ll get into this more later), but these were his first points of the game, with a little over 15 minutes to go in the second half, and the team already down by 16. It was like he was a ghost in the first half, a mere decoy in the corner and Georgetown wasn’t playing through him at all. Then, when they clearly needed a pop, he took over (and a good portion came very late). This one is just UConn not hedging the ball screen and Harris using his speed to get downhill quickly to capitalize at the rim.

Some blown coverage here but, again, why wasn’t this utilized earlier? It wasn’t like he just wasn’t playing effectively in the first half, he shot 7-10 for the game, he just wasn’t being featured/play on both sides of the ball was really going away from him most of the time and then, in the second half, that changed. I have to think that how that Georgetown team played in the years following his first season, the selfish and sloppy basketball, the lack of strategy, played a significant role in his decision to leave.

Let’s go back in time now to that Quarterfinal game against Villanova. This was decided by 1 point in the end, and likely was the best overall opponent of any of these games. Harris primarily was covered by Chris Arcidiacono, Ryan’s younger brother who, at 6’4″ had 4 inches on Dante but who very much struggled with his quickness. Here, Harris simply rejects a ball screen and explodes down the middle of the lane for the finish and the foul. We haven’t even gotten to some of his ball handling yet, just the threat of Arcidiacono having to fight over a ball screen and Harris giving a little ball fake in that direction put him off balance enough that Harris could exploit it by THIS much:

The Hoyas trailed in this game mostly throughout and were down by as many as 10 points more than halfway through the second half. Down by 5 with about 1:20 to go, they turned to Harris in the ball screen and he was able to get into the lane and draw the foul for two free throws (almost made the bucket). Notably, Arcidiacono defends this pretty well from the outset. Harris attempts to deny the ball screen again initially but doesn’t have the same room with the help side right there. Instead, he then uses the screen but the screener is slipping toward the basket at the same time so there isn’t actually any physical obstruction of Arcidiacono. Instead, Harris creates this advantage and, eventually, draws the foul, by taking a wider angle and building a head of steam such that his footspeed creates the advantage.

Now, with just over 15 seconds left and down one, Georgetown needs another play and turned to the freshman Harris to make it. They started this play with some weave action up top to kill some clock with the design of putting the ball in Harris’s hands at the end. Notice on Villanova’s end, that’s 6’8″ Jeremiah Robinson-Earle currently on the Oklahoma City Thunder who they are having switch each of these so that he’s the primary defender on the ball handler – attempting to use his mobility and size to play lock down defense. At that point, it becomes an isolation play and you can see Harris’s handle and change of direction at work. He hits him with two separate cross-overs, one to create space toward the elbow, and then another that sets him entirely off balance (he almost falls) so that when he recovers he gets into Harris’s body on the shot and sends him to the line. We’ll revisit these free throws later (spoiler: it goes well!).

This is the ability to create your own opportunity and get to the line against an NBA-level player 8 inches taller in the biggest moment of the game.

These next two clips come from the Creighton game in the Big East Tournament Final where Georgetown absolutely annihilated a very good Creighton team and where Harris was matched up against the 6’2″ Marcus Zegarowski who averaged almost 16 points per game that season and was drafted in the 2nd round of the NBA draft after. It’s funny, I looked at the box score of this game where Zegarowski finished 7-8 from the field, 3-4 from three and scored 17 points, and Harris went 4-14 from the field, 0-5 from three with 10 points and expected this to be a game where Georgetown won but where Harris got the worst end of the matchup. And that’s why it pays to watch the games (similar to the inverse with the UConn game for Harris). In fact, Zegarowski hit a few buckets very late in scrub time when the game was no longer in doubt, and had a few moments early in the first half which we’ll get into, but for the most part he didn’t make a huge impact against Harris and more or less disappeared for the entire middle chunk of the game where the Georgetown lead ballooned to a crazy margin (and while they, candidly, shot the lights out). Harris’s thumb print was all over the game in a variety of ways and, despite the stat line, I thought he had a command of the game. We’ll get into some more of that later but, focusing on getting downhill toward the hoop, here are two great looks in this one.

In the first play below, Creighton is attempting to trap Donald Carey who gets the ball over to Harris with space as the Creighton defense attempts to rotate back to their positions. Notice how far back Zegarowski (#11) is standing from Harris. He’s at the three-point line when Harris gets the ball around the logo. But from there, he might as well not really be in the way as Harris gets a head of steam and one simple cross-over/change of direction creates a wide-open and clean path for him to go down.

Now, in that play Zegarowski fouls him on the shot and the help side post comes over and attempts to block. Harris is unable to finish through the contact. One thing I will say is that, while he is very good at creating the advantage, often his finishing on these shots is lacking.

Here’s an example below from the same game that might look fairly similar to the play against Jack Bynum above. From what I can tell, it’s the same play, with three Hoyas to the bottom of the screen, two setting screen action to distract their defenders, with another at the top in the corner. It’s a clear out to allow Harris a path to drive and, again, he easily blows by his defender, Zegarowski, who is having to press up on him more than he was earlier in the game due to the significant deficit. The difference here is that 6’7″ Christian Bishop identified the play and came over to help contest the shot. Harris attempts to put it high up on the glass to avoid the block, almost makes it, and his teammate cleans up the follow.

Still a positive play and, when he’d drive, generally good things would happen either with an open finish, getting to the foul line where he can be an excellent FT shooter at almost 90% that season, almost 80% for his career, or finding an open teammate. It does showcase that finishing in traffic can still be a challenge. I never saw him just get his shot swatted and he always had the juice to get his shot up (we’ll see another example of this later), but improving his finishing around the rim in traffic would really make this element of his game a nightmare to defend – it was already quite difficult.

Combining all of this into one clip, here’s a look below where we see Harris collect the ball on the defensive end after his teammate pokes the ball away from a player on Providence. He’s a one-man fast break here and you can see the extent of his full-throttle speed as he quickly eliminates the considerable cushion between himself and Jack Bynum and pulls away from everyone else. His athleticism is on display here! But, when he gets to the rim he seems to hesitate a bit and his jump comes later than I’d have imagined and seems a little awkward. As a result, he draws the foul, but doesn’t get great lift and allows the trailing defender who he had put in the review mirror to get back into the play to block the shot. Still, creating an advantage but room for improvement finishing the play.

Another element to this that I would be remiss not to highlight is that Harris plays SO fast and so quickly that occasionally he can be out of control. Physical errors as a result of playing too quickly or brief mental lapses are the kinds of things we might be used to seeing from our point guards a few times a year, but he was good for usually about 1-2 per game. To be clear, I’m not just talking about turnovers here. In fact, Harris averages 2.4 turnovers per game, which is only .3 higher than Kihei Clark for his career who played far fewer possessions per game. I’ll show you what I mean.

Here’s an instance against UConn where he beats the press and then attempts to take his man off of the dribble, but just kind of loses the ball on the drive and gets fortunate that UConn deflects the ball out of bounds so that the Hoyas retain possession.

Here, below, in the same game he takes his man off of the dribble but attempts to adjust to shoot the layup on the other side of the rim to protect from any shot blocking. He’s just moving too fast and the play results in a wild shot that triggers a fast break for the Huskies going the other way.

Here’s a fantastic defensive play where he springs up so quickly to intercept a pass and to start that one-man fast break the other way but he’s so focused on trying to draw contact that he rushes and misses the finish and is unable to get the whistle.

This one below is such a sick move to split the double team off of the screen but he just kind of gets lost in the trees, bounces around like a pinball, and eventually does turn this one over.

This one below is just a look against Providence where he gets a little ahead of himself and doesn’t bring the ball along with him, pushing it out of bounds on the drive (this was also ruled a deflection by Providence, but it wasn’t, he just lost the handle).

And this one against Creighton, below, is kind of one of my favorite “bad” plays I’ve ever seen. He’s got a lot of space toward the basket but when the much larger help side defender comes over, he doesn’t really have a great idea of what he wants to do. Instead, he kind of just goes right into him, seems to hang in the air forever, and gets this crazy left-handed scoop shot off as he’s descending that almost goes in!

Not the best play, but also one that showcased his athleticism and still didn’t lose his team possession. Also one of those where, if it does go in…. Man.


The elephant in the room is that Harris has been a poor shooter from outside over his career at 26.8%. I’ll let that one sit for a second because that is a rough number. I will say that some of his best three-point shooting performances came in his most recent games – this UConn game being the best – but the sample size on that trend was not big and there’s a lot left to be seen here. In watching the games, I will say it’s not like he was open spotting up a ton and his teammates found him. They were often shots off of the bounce when his man dove under a screen or as a result of a broken play, etc. That being said, there were certainly plenty of good looks that did not have a good result. The thing is, it wasn’t like he was forcing them or that he was overly uneasy to take them. I think back to Reece Beekman’s first year where both he and Clark were reluctant to shoot open looks and both looked like they had a hitch like they were overthinking it/trying to guide it in. Harris’s shot is fluid and he naturally gets into it – he just wasn’t very effective from that range.

Here’s a look from the Providence game, below, where he loses his man off of a fake cut and opens himself for an open look but airballs. He made motion here like the shot was deflected, but it was not called that way.

Here are a few looks from the Creighton game. The first one you’ll notice his man, Zegarowski is camped pretty far off of him in the lane. Harris lets fire fluidly but hits back rim.

Here you’ll see his man get lost under a screen in transition so Harris fires away but misses badly. The ball gets back to him on an offensive rebound and he probably could have launched again but thinks better of it considering the previous miss and, instead, swings the ball to a teammate for a less open shot that also misses.

Another look below, again, not a bad shot when both of his men sag off and a shot that looks pretty fluid but misses pretty badly off front rim.

It’s not like he just couldn’t hit these shots, though, some of it had to do with the rhythm he was in and some of it had to do with how it came. Here’s one where he has a chance to spot up and the ball gets worked over to him on a secondary break and he drills it off of the catch:

Here’s another where he’s able to set up for a kickout after an offensive rebound:

And this one was toward the end of the UConn game when he was absolutely feeling it and letting it rip, which is more like some of the misses shown above where he elevates off of the bounce after his man sags too much:

The long and the short of it was he was NOT a good three-point shooter, but he was much better when he had a clean look spotting up, which I think our offense is more likely to generate. I don’t see him taking a lot of threes off of the bounce for us but it’s certainly possible and shooting in general is certainly an element of his game he’s hopefully been working on. But this is a big reason why I do NOT think that he and Reece Beekman would be a great pairing together if Beekman were to return. Beekman improved significantly when he was healthy, but neither are players who love to pull it from deep and both are players who can create their own shots. Better to surround either with two wings who can shoot it to capitalize on the opportunities that they create. Speaking of creating his own shot, though…

We haven’t seen Dante Harris’s bread and butter yet, which is using that quickness that we saw earlier on the drive, but pulling up in the midrange usually around the foul line.

Here’s a couple of looks against UConn the first against Jalen Gaffney after some uncharacteristic good ball movement from Georgetown that season, the ball ends up back with Harris who simply jab steps to get his man leaning and dribbles toward the elbow, elevates and scores.

From the same game, this time over R.J. Cole, it’s a really tough shot entirely created in the one-on-one isolation game, taking his man off the bounce to his right and elevating over a good contest to knock down the jumper.

We’re going to keep going for a bit here because this is definitely Harris’s bag and he gets to it many different ways. We’re back to the Villanova game now and he gets a switch such that he gets 6’8″ Eric Dixon switched onto him after the screen. He gives a little hesitation and then backs Dixon off with a quick dribble to his left and pulls up from just outside of the foul line.

This next one is a sweet little step-back he throws on Robinson-Earle.

We’ve got Arcidiacono just giving him way too much buffer on the drive and him taking what he’s given. Note here, we haven’t shown the same defender in this sequence yet but the amount of space they give him because of the threat his quickness to the rim poses as we saw earlier. He can really take advantage in this are of the floor when he creates that space.

This one’s with Georgetown down 10 under the 10 minute mark in a game we know they win. Just a sick cross-over to reject the ball screen, gets Arcidiacono on his back foot, and drills the pull up. Keep in mind, Arcidiacono has 5 inches on him but can’t bother him with this contest.

Moving on to the Creighton game, this one was interesting because at first for the beginning part of the game Zegarowski had the upper hand, was playing well and hitting shots, and Harris seemed a little tentative. Zegarowski very briefly sat and his backup, the 5’10” Jett Canfield took to covering Harris. Immediately seeing the mismatch, Harris went to work, isolating and staggering Canfield with this move to hit the jumper. Note, Canfield’s knees basically buckle and he staggers down the lane away from Harris toward the hoop. Really a pretty filthy move.

Creighton quickly got Zegarowski back in, but Harris had his confidence and played much more aggressively from there. Here’s a look below with Zegarowski back in and the lead widening. He gets the ball on the wing and extends the ball as if he’s going to throw an entry in the post. Zegarowski puts his arms up to get long to make the pass harder and his knees extend/lock. It just takes that one second and Harris springs to life, bringing the ball down and driving hard toward the lane. Zegarowski has to take a deeper line toward the hoop to account for Harris’s quickness, and he just pulls up from the free throw line to hit the shot. This just has “his shot” all over it.

This last one I’ll show marries the two points I’ve made in this section. He gets what seems to be a very open three-point look but instead dribbles away from his man to the left to sink a midrange jumper from the elbow. Again, love that he can hit this shot and it was a big one in this game taking the lead up to 20 and keeping the foot on the gas. You’d rather he just take and make the open three rather than passing it up for a less efficient shot, though.

Between these displays and his FT shooting I think Harris actually is a very good shooter and one who can make contested looks, he just hasn’t yet had the threeball in his comfort zone. Hopefully, he’ll be improved in that area after a full season off but, if not, he can still be an offensive fire starter. One thing that was a huge boon this year, especially prior to his injury, was Beekman’s ability to create his own opportunity off of the dribble after our offense didn’t generate a quality look toward the end of the shot clock. This was never something Clark was very well-suited for. Occasionally he’d have a hot game where everything was going in or he’d hit a big shot (Virginia Tech game, anyone?), but most of the time it wasn’t ideal to have him having to get that look over a hard contest or to HAVE to finish inside (St. Bonaventure game immediately jumps out). That element of having Beekman able to do that at the beginning of the season was huge on multiple occasions and then became less of a reliable option depending on his explosiveness with his hamstring later in the year.

If Beekman doesn’t come back, this is going to be an area where Harris shines/bails us out from time to time at the end of a shot clock. He is VERY good at creating his own look, usually in the midrange game, or creating an opportunity for others. So, while we’ll certainly still primarily rely on running our offenses, he offers a lot for the moments where that doesn’t work and we just need someone to get a look.

But speaking of creating for others…


Harris is a very good passer with good vision, accuracy, and the ability to manipulate defenders with his eyes/body language. He’s also able to use his explosiveness that we’ve been talking about to draw defenders and then find his teammates.

Here’s one of my favorite examples against Providence where he rubs his man off of the pick and roll, crosses-over from right to left to split the hedge, gets by him and as help side starts to come, immediately in a seamless motion whips a one-handed left-handed pass to his teammate cutting in baseline. Unfortunately, his teammate wastes the opportunity by shooting a running push shot rather than taking a dribble and shooting a layup, but the setup was still sick and shows both how dangerous he can be when he gets a head of steam, his vision, and his accuracy.

This next one is against UConn is a really sharp play. He runs the pick and roll with his teammate who dives toward the hoop. Both defenders come with him and no one stays with the post player, but they’re aggressively pressuring Harris and trying to keep active hands/obscure the passing lane. What I love about this look is that there is help side – Tyler Polley (#12) is there but then has to continue to follow his man to the top of the key. Harris could have tried to immediately throw the pass but instead waits for Polley to clear and THEN riffles a bullet in there to Ighoefe for the wide-open dunk. The pass itself was great but the patience I really appreciated.

Here’s a look against Villanova that we’ve seen a lot of over the past five years. Harris drives baseline and just threads a perfect pass into the post between two defenders for the lay-in.

This one has NFL Quarterback vibes beating the press, manipulating the defense with his body/eyes and then zipping (I’m running out of terms for fast passes here!), one past the entire press to his man right by the hoop. You can see Jermaine Samuels (#23) on Villanova break hard toward the wing because of the sell Harris puts on him, freeing up the back line pass.

Here’s a pick and roll look after killing time against Creighton toward the end of the half. It’s kind of a similar look to the one against UConn but another accurate pass delivered with two men trying to make that pass difficult.

This one I include because of the crazy accuracy needed to complete this pass. It simply drew a common foul on the defender, but even though the post player’s defender came with Harris on the screen, both backside defenders were right there and the window for Harris to complete this pass was tiny. A little more to either direction and it would have been deflected but, instead, it was completed and a foul drawn.

Another look in the PnR but this one a much cleaner and quicker one where he just fluidly finds his man for the clear path to the dunk.

This is the last of these I’ll show. It’s a secondary break against Creighton that he starts without many players behind him when he gets the ball. Still, he pushes under control, forces the defense to cover, and then sets up a pass to his teammate on the wing for the open three. What I really like about this pass is not only the decision making behind it but also the placement. You can see he puts it out in front of his man such that he has to reach out to snag it with his left hand (or could have kept running to it). He does this to keep it just out of reach of the trailing defender who lunges but ends up taking himself out of the play running by it. If Harris passes it right to the body of his man there, it’s probably picked off. Great awareness not only of who the best option on his team is but where the defense was coming from.

So yes, he’s a very good, smart, and accurate passer who I rarely saw turn the ball over in that way.

Last offensive point and then we’ll look at the defense. You’ve seen several elements to his game above, but what hopefully is clear (and if it’s not, I’d like to make it that way now) from the games selected is that Harris seemed to both elevate his game and the game of those around him in big moments, against better competition, and when his teammates were better. Whether it be drawing fouls in isolation or hitting a big bucket. But the biggest moment of his young career is almost certainly below. With his team down 1 point in the Big East Quarterfinals against Jay Wright’s Wildcats, Harris drew a foul against a future NBA player (shown above) and went to the line for these two free throws:

I firmly believe that there’s a clutch factor with him and that he’s definitely the kind of player to whom you can turn to make something positive happen in the big moments.


Harris has the tools and physical gifts to be a lock down defender at the PG slot. At times, he absolutely was, especially in that first season. In his second season, I saw more lapses in concentration and effort, likely as a result of the games not being as close and how easily his team was conceding points. Even still, CTB always preaches being continuous which isn’t always what I saw. On the other hand, teams often just didn’t test him much, especially in his second season. I don’t think we’ll see a problem with him mentally staying in the game defensively, as our style of basketball IS always team over individual in terms of how the decisions play out on the court, which I think meshes very well with what seems to motivate Harris. There’s a lot to like here. Let’s break it down:

On-Ball Defense

Harris’s quickness and surprising physicality meant that his opposition rarely attempted to take him off of the bounce, instead preferring to challenge easier paths on the team. There were other ways in which they’d more often challenge him and I’ll get to those in a bit, but let’s first take a look at his aggressive and intrusive defensive style on the ball.

One of the first thing you’ll notice on some of these clips is that Harris often pressed and rode his man full court to make them uncomfortable and to disrupt the early flow of their offense. Sound like anyone else you’ve known to play for our team? The below clip is from the Villanova game and, while Chris Arcidiacono is not his brother, he played 34 minutes and was held to 3 points in this one, with all of them coming from the FT line. Now Harris basically negated his ability to do anything off of the dribble when he was on him. You’ll see in the clip below the full court shadow pressure (he’ll go harder sometimes) followed by shutting down Arcidiacono’s probe into the lane, the rattled, mishandled dribble, and then resigning to kicking it back to another defender. Villanova would get a poor look on this trip.

But Villanova really wasn’t testing Harris that much in this game, so Georgetown actually was able to rotate him to the hot man some, putting him on 6’4″ Justin Moore who was playing well. His size got the better of Harris once as we’ll see later but, generally speaking the Wildcats spent much of their time avoiding him. When they didn’t off of the bounce, stuff like this was happening:

That’s their other starting guard the 6’4″ Caleb Daniels in the clip above. I like how when Daniels starts to use his body to shield him, Harris steps up into him and offers that physical resistance at the free throw line. Then as Daniels attempts to back up to free up his body for space and cross-over, Harris’s quick hands deflect the ball away. Even though he doesn’t get to it, you love both the quickness and physicality here. Often when you have guards who offer this level of quickness, they aren’t always the strongest at the point of attack, but Harris offers that ability to both beat ball handlers to the spot and to hold up at that point of contact.

The below two clips on Zegarowski against Creighton highlight this point and I think are the best examples of him being fully leveraged as a defender because Zegarowski was too good of a player for them not to run offense through (although they really stopped trying during a huge chunk of the middle of the game when the lead was extending). In the clip below, you get a quick look at Harris getting over a screen and effectively sliding into the lane to deter passes to cutters, but then he bolts out to his man to recover so that there’s no room to get a comfortable shot off. From there, watch how he’s playing Zegarowski close so as not to make dribbling comfortable and how he’s constantly repositioning his body, feeling for potential screens, making them ineffective, and also eventually shading Zegarowski to keep him from driving toward the middle of the court but, instead leaving a path toward his help defense. Harris stays invasively in his space, makes dribbling uncomfortable, and eventually forces a terrible cross-court pass for a backcourt violation because Zegarowski panics and feels like he needs to get the ball out of there. This is really just high energy, high-leverage defense that trusts his ability to react to whatever Zegarowski does.

I love this one below in transition as well. Harris gets back on defense to deter the break and then hands off the man he was shading, who passes to a trailing Zegarowski. Harris quickly identifies him and doesn’t just stay with him on the drive, he recovers in time to completely shut it down at the free throw line and then also reacts to the change of direction to ride him on the edge of the lane, eventually pulling back out to the three-point line and resetting. Just masterful defense. It’s very hard when a player has that kind of momentum and you’re moving sideways or on the back foot with your focus elsewhere to both locate and react enough to completely cut off a drive angle. I also love that little subtle right forearm he uses, in at the body, to help brace for the impact from Zegarowski and to help control his movement from there.

Just for fun this game, let’s also take a quick look at when Canfield was in. Harris predictable hounds and smothers him when he has the ball, which amounts to nothing.

I joke but that is what you want to see when there’s a mismatch on the floor or when an under-talented bench player is playing – you want your guy to attack the matchup on both ends, which Harris does.

Here’s a couple of looks against UConn the first of which you see that full court pressure again, this one much more resistant. Then he switches onto a player in the post, who decides not to take advantage of the size mismatch and passes it out to the three-point line. Harris then gives a good box out and UConn is whistled for a foul away from him on the play.

And here’s a different look, this time he really fights to get over a screen but over-pursues his man on the other side, creating an opening for him to be beaten down the left side of the lane. Even still, Harris is able to recover and use his hand quickness to strip the ball out when R.J. Cole (#2) goes up for the shot. Beaten, but stayed in it and had the skill to nullify the play.

This last one is against Providence where you see him again get over a screen cut off a drive, and then get into the space of Alyn Breed (#10) with a contest that forces a very uncomfortable shot and airball.

Hopefully this paints the picture of a very quick defender who was able to use that quickness with physicality to make driving on him very difficult against most players. Teams really did not often initiate offense through Harris’s man off of the bounce, which was interesting and impactful considering he often took the opposing team’s point guard. He certainly was not a perfect or fully lock down defender on the ball. On occasion, his opposition was able to use their size advantage, his over-aggressiveness, or a mental lapse against him. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Here’s a look back at the Villanova game and I mentioned previously his matchup with the 6’4″ Justin Moore who they shifted Harris to. Villanova really didn’t play anyone under 6’4″ but they mostly were not able to either get inside or take advantage of Harris when they did. This was an exception:

I want to say again, this was atypical from what I saw, but here Moore just kind of took his time and used his strength and size to inch his way close to the hoop and then finish.

Here’s one where Zegarowski got the upper hand for Creighton below. You’ll notice that the ball is passed ahead to him while pushing before the defense is fully set. On the catch Zegarowski rips the ball through, drives in a straight line baseline, and uses his body/size to shield Harris off for the finish.

It’s a great example of how you have to attack Harris on the ball – before he gets help side and one quick and decisive motion to create a straight line toward the hoop.

Here’s a look against R.J. Cole and UConn where Harris’s aggression bites him. Again, you can see him pressuring full court, this time getting into Cole’s body and attempting to make things uncomfortable. Cole gets the ball over and passes to start the offense. As he later pops out to the wing, Harris over plays the passing lane and Cole cuts back door for the easy layup.

These last few clips are against Providence and is the game both where he played his worst defense that I saw and in which he was challenged the most. 5’10” Jared Harper was quick enough to match him and was very savvy within their offense. This clip below is more of a hedging issue from the Georgetown big; never stopping Harper’s momentum and letting him get downhill cleanly, but we also see that Harris doesn’t fight above the screen as we’ve seen in earlier clips and doesn’t appear as fervent to get back into the play as we’ve seen previously, either.

This next clip, below, is a similar look where Harris doesn’t get over the screen. This time, the big does a better job of riding/shielding Harper so that he doesn’t have a clean path to the hoop. Harris trails throughout and is laser focused on Harper, paying no attention to passing lanes or where the post player is filling. He very likely could have dropped here to make this pass much more difficult. Instead, he’s unaware of the available man and compounds the issue by fouling him.

This last one was the first (and only) time that I saw Harris just get straight up beaten off of the dribble without a complimentary screen from a set defense. He pressures Harper up the floor again and provides tight defense on him as he sets the offense, but as Harper starts to create off of the dribble, Harris uncharacteristically lets up and tries to swipe at the ball from behind. When he doesn’t get it, he gives up, and walks out the play. Meanwhile, the ball goes back to the man the post player helping on Harper was guarding, and he sinks the three. If Harris releases Harper there, rather than stopping his defense, he needs to be locating the rotation and getting to him. He certainly could have prevented this three here, and this is an example of what I mean when I say he wasn’t continuous in this game/he didn’t seem as mentally engaged as he was in the others.

So, I would say that Harris is a very good on-ball defender. He’s quick and keeps his man out of the lane. He really bothers the dribble the full length of the court and has quick hands. He’s strong at the point of attack. You rarely (I posted the only times in four games that I saw it) see him taken off of the dribble one-on-one without a screen involved. And he plays bigger than his size, giving intrusive contests on jumpers. He’s most vulnerable in the pick and roll, especially without a mobile post defender. He doesn’t always rotate or recover well. I do think the hard hedge with some mobile post players, which we should offer, gels really well with his strengths and minimizes where he’s weak in this area. Let’s take a look at him off of the ball.

Off-Ball Defense

Now, the first thing I want to point out about Harris’s off-ball defense is that he’s almost always taking the other team’s best ball-handler, so when he’s playing defense off of the ball that’s somewhat of a win in itself because that man isn’t handling it. And he was in that position often because his opponents tended to prefer initiating their offense through their guard who Harris wasn’t covering. That should be another point speaking to his quality on-ball defense.

This is certainly an area in which he’s most vulnerable and why I’m glad, of all of our incoming transfers, that he’s the one with a half-year in the defensive system already. That being said, before we highlight that, he absolutely has the ability to be good in this area and make some explosive plays. Here’s one, below, against Creighton where he turns a simple thing like a handoff into offense the other way as he pokes the ball away from Zegarowski as he’s coming to the ball and then blisters past him in transition for the easy bucket.

This look, below, is textbook and highlights his ability. It’s an out of bounds play and first Harris runs off of screens to be in Zegarowski’s lap on the catch in the corner. Good defensive stance, Zegarowski has no intention to test him off of the bounce. As the ball rotates around, Harris sinks to the middle of the lane to provide help, is there to deter the pass to the diving post player, and then darts back out to the corner to be right there on the catch for Zegarowski again so he can’t get a shot up. The play results in a missed three from Creighton. Really good defensive flow from Harris on this one.

And here’s one alert play I just wanted to throw in because it’s at the end of the Villanova game after he hit the free throws. The Wildcats are trying to go the length of the floor in just over 4 seconds to hit a game winner. Harris shadows his man, Arcidiacono, down the floor, but has the awareness to leave him once he realizes he won’t be able to take a pass and shoot. Harris runs over and dives under/distracts the shooter as he lets the shot fly, missing. Who knows if this actually had an impact on the shot, but I like what it showed about not sticking rigidly to his man and using game sense to make a play more difficult on his opponent in a clutch moment.

Now, off-the-ball defense is where he was most commonly attacked on the defensive end, so let’s look at how:

In this look, below, this isn’t bad defense. Zegarowski cuts baseline and curls around the post player with the ball, taking the pass. From there, Harris is in good position, and all of Zegarowski’s dribbles take him farther from the hoop and he ends up taking and a fadeaway jump shot. There’s nothing Harris does wrong here, but the size he’s giving up is at play because there really is no opportunity for him to meaningfully close this gap. Zegarowski just uses the space created by the rub, keeps the advantage at play, and makes a shot that Harris can’t really bother too well.

Here’s one against Villanova where he’s guarding Justin Moore, who we mentioned he’s conceding 4 inches when covering. This isn’t really even a screen set, Harris just briefly goes under another player, which gives Moore all of the time he needs to take the pass on the wing and launch a three. This is that element of Harris’s height being at play. When on the ball, he’s able to eliminate that space to make shots uncomfortable but, off the ball, it doesn’t take much space for a quality player of Moore’s size to be able to get a comfortable shot up.

Here’s a similar thought, below, in the UConn game in the following year. UConn mostly avoided attacking him directly for the majority of the game, instead opting to carve up the rest of the team’s poor defense with quality ball movement. But here, they design a play to attack him off of the inbound by running him through multiple screens and creating an open look for R.J. Cole popping out to the top of the three-point line. As quick as he may be, throwing multiple large bodied obstacles in his way off of the ball and then forcing him to try to contest a bigger player from outside is a sound strategy.

This last look goes back to being continuous again. At first, it’s a simple pin down which, again, frees up Harris’s man for a good look. Bynum misses the shot, but Harris with his contest kind of fades toward the sideline and turns and watches and doesn’t get back into the play. The rebound is long and goes out to his man, Bynum, who collects the ball and turns toward the hoop at an angle that Harris isn’t able to stop. Rather than search and recover or to keep pressing, Harris just kind of lets Bynum go and turns and watches the rest of the play unfold, where the ball goes into the corner and the three is made. Boxing out Bynum after the shot prevents this play and, aside from that, either staying on Bynum’s side or searching and recovering to the open man would have all made this play more challenging. His concentration lapses here and it costs them three points.

So, off of the ball the potential is there to create splash plays, jump passing lanes, close out quickly, etc., but it’s also the area where his size will most come into play; struggling to bother shooters coming off of quick (or multiple screens). Now, this was not featured, but I didn’t see any issues with his ability to help on the back side or cut off passing lanes. He’s not a large player but he goes play with mobility, reach, and quick hands so, while he may not be the same as a 6’5″ player at taking up space, he did well at deterring passes and also in showing up in unexpected places to harass/bother larger players who caught the ball.


Just a few other things I wanted to quickly point out about his game that didn’t merit their own sections. He’s a very capable rebounder for his size and actually led his team in rebounds in two different games in his most recent season, peaking at 9 vs. St. John’s. Here you can get a look at him crashing the glass from the perimeter and going up to get a ball that might otherwise have been deflected by UConn.

But I’ll also say that I noticed a tendency to float under the hoop and bury himself which sometimes came back to bite him. Here you’ll see him doing a good job of making Arcidiacono’s life hard coming up the floor but when Villanova misses the shot, rather than boxing or staying inside Arcidiacono and then attacking a long board as it comes off, Harris walks himself under the hoop and mistimes an attempt at the rebound. It comes off to his man, Arcidiacono, and then Harris doesn’t quickly identify his rotation who gets a wide-open look from three (and misses, but that’s beside the point).

He’s, generally speaking, a very alert and savvy player who plays hard, though. In the two clips below he forces two fouls on UConn’s Adama Sonogo (who you might remember from such hits as this year’s NCAA Tournament) within the first 2:30 of the game. On this clip, below, forcing the issue on a hedge and drawing the contact…

And on this one, below, trailing R.J. Cole closely and drawing the contact from the illegal screen.

Sanogo sat at this point, didn’t play much the rest of the first half, and only played 19 total minutes in the game – which was a huge reason that a Georgetown team that didn’t win a conference game was able to stay within 10 points of the #21 ranked team in the country. Little things like this where Harris impacted the game in ways outside of his direct box score line were not uncommon, and his fluidity/mobility and presence popped on tape even outside of what I’ve shown above.

In Conclusion

Dante Harris is an exciting addition who I think is being slept on a little bit both because of when he was added to the roster and because of his three-point shooting percentage.

Unless we’re pressing or trying to protect a large lead late, I do not think he’s a great fit with Reece Beekman and I wouldn’t want them (though think they would) to share a ton of court time together. While Reece improved his outside shot and willingness to take it quite a bit last offseason, neither player thrives as one who hunts the outside shot. Their skillsets are better served as drive-first, kind of players and I could see the presence of both taking away space for the other. Redundant skillsets, to a degree. For his part, Harris is far more effective as a ball-dominant point who gets the offense into motion, makes the right pass, and who can create his own opportunity when the situation calls for it. You could play Reece off the ball, but you’re wasting some of his potential in that way and, candidly, he’s a better finisher deep inside in traffic than Harris, less effective with the pull up. If Reece returns, I’d like to see Harris used more as a back up option with a few situational minutes alongside of him, moving into the starting position the following year. However, since the tea leaves seem less and less likely that Reece will return, I want focus on a roster composition without Beekman available.

In this scenario, I see Harris as a guy who can and will easily give you close to 35 minutes per game. Aside from his occasional mental lapses, which I never saw in his first season, he’s a prototypical CTB-style PG who can basically give you an entire game with energy, as needed, and brings ball handling, pressure, and intangibles enough that I expect he’ll see the floor a ton. The natural comparison will be to Kihei Clark because of how the plays the game, and his size at 6’0″. But I would reject this comparison. At 6’0″ he’s already around three inches bigger and he’s a MUCH more dynamic athlete. He’ll still pressure the ball baseline to baseline, he’ll be quicker than most players, play with toughness, and be a precise passer and in all of those ways the comparison is fair. But Clark was a more wily player who created advantage through deception and anticipation, and Harris is much more physically gifted player just able to straight up beat you to the spot and create his own advantage or to deny yours.

He does have challenges finishing in heavy traffic around the rim, but is very capable drawing fouls and getting the shot up without it being bothered or blocked and at creating so much room that the finish isn’t an issue. He doesn’t need much space to get his shot off and is often not given a ton of space off the ball despite not being a good outside shooter because he gets into it fluidly. He can get that mid-range look basically whenever he wants it against virtually anyone, as we’ve seen against a variety of NBA-level players across positions. It’s not a shot we probably want in as much volume as he’s used to, but it’s great to have as an option especially when other things aren’t working. I liken it a bit to what we’ve thought of Jayden’s midrange shot over the past two years – not what you want to live on but sometimes very necessary and effective. He’ll likely have more unsound errors and mistakes when trying to create off the bounce than we’re used to, but he’ll also create some opportunities we aren’t used to seeing and be a very good failsafe option to get a quality look whenever the offense runs its course without yielding something better. I anticipate he’ll be very good at fitting into whatever role the team needs him to play in that game, whether it’s primary offensive option, or just a facilitator for others.

Defensively, he’ll be most effective against the primary ball handler but is still very effective against guards 6’3″ and up. When I think of PGs who have given us issues recently, I think of players like RJ Davis or Jeremy Roach, who have used both their quickness, sound ball handling and size advantage on Clark to fuel their confident jump shots. I believe that Harris is someone who you could put on either and he’d have the potential to either take them out of their game or at least make it much more difficult for them to create space/get quality shots up (I should mention here not than Beekman, who is still a better defender given his length and all-conference talent). Basically, those kinds of matchups would no longer be defensive mismatches and I expect him to be almost a universal plus on that side of the ball. Rare will you see another team feed Harris’s man to gain repetitive advantage unless there’s a very unique matchup situation. If given the green light, he’ll be very good at pushing advantage in the open court and creating numbers attacking in the break.

With next year’s roster, offensively I think he’ll be effective in Sides when complimented by two shooters on the wing (likely IMK and Rohde). He’ll be able to set up good looks for them with space or play the pick and roll effectively, I expect most so with Jordan Minor who I haven’t scouted yet but should be solid screen setter and a lob threat at the rim. The opposition shouldn’t be able to play too far off of him or cheat in these sets depending on who is on floor with him. I expect he’ll be absolutely lethal in the 5-Out transition sets where we clear out the inside and give our ball handler the opportunity to take his many off of the dribble before setting up the main offense. We saw this from Kihei a lot last year, especially in Smaller Ball, here’s a look:

Harris will absolutely eat this look alive. Recall how easily he blew by his primary defender in some of those earlier clips when Georgetown would clear out with three players at the bottom of the screen and one at the top. This is a MUCH more effective clear out set and will offer Harris’s defender much less help side.

Similarly, if we play Inside Triangle at all, I expect Harris will be a wing who will look to either run ball screen variations or opportunities where the inside screen action occupies the attention of defenders to also take the ball to the rack (or to get into the lane for a jumper).

As a result of all of this, one thing to keep an eye on will be when he’s paired with forward Jacob Groves. Groves, who I will spotlight later, is this year’s stretch 4 and a 38% career shooter from three. He should play the role of BVP on this year’s team and enable many of the same looks offensively. I expect that Groves’s presence and ability to pull defenders to the three-point line will create a lot of room for Harris to operate either slashing past his man inside or drawing a defender and kicking outside. Offensively, I anticipate this will be one of our most effective two-man pairings. At some point, teams will likely back off and force Harris to try to beat us from outside and we will have to see how much he’s grown his game in that area. But recall, he wasn’t often given those kinds of wide-open looks where he could just set and shoot. Also, given his ability to punish defenders who give him a cushion to gain a head of steam, and his ability to take a couple of steps inside the three-point line to shoot comfortably, I’m not sure it will matter that much. A lot of this will depend on how many shooters we surround him with and how effective our non-shooters are at finishing opportunities around the rim.

Now, in similar looks defensively we often struggled without a rim protector when BVP was on the floor last year at the 5. This year, we should almost always have any of Dunn, Minor, or Buchanan on the floor – so, at a bare minimum, any of those will be better than when we had Gardner and BVP paired. That being said, Harris’s ability to shut down driving lanes and to bother more types of players should mean that that back-end rim protection is, while still important, a little less impactful than when Clark was primary defender in these situations. Basically, if Groves struggles on defense, it should be a little less impactful this year than it was last (unless either IMK or Rohde really struggle with penetration, I’ll look at Rohde later as well).

There aren’t many looks we should face this season where I expect Harris won’t be a plus defender at the PG position. Furthermore, between Gertrude, Bond, Dunn, and Minor or Buchanan, there are some potential lineups where we should be able to really harass the ball across all 5 positions and provide some stifling defense. Now, those lineups will likely concede for shooting almost across the board positionally, but here’s where I think Harris could be a unique benefit in that situation. If we play these heavy defensive lineups, our ability to stop another team from scoring should be admirable – but Harris’s ability to get his own shot in that midrange space, or to play the pick and roll, might not be the most efficient offense with that grouping, but it could be enough to compensate such that we wouldn’t need as many of our offensive threats on the floor and could load up on defense.

Either way, Dante Harris is an experienced guard who pops athletically and offers a lot when it comes to commanding a game on both ends of the floor. I expect he’ll be a mainstay in our rotation this year and will soften the impact of potentially losing both of our primary ball handlers from the past 3-5 seasons. While there are elements to his game that will not replace things either Beekman or Clark offered, I think many will be surprised at how effective he is at fitting his own playstyle into Virginia basketball.

6 responses to “Tracking a Transfer: Dante Harris”

  1. Are you worried about his ability to bother longer shooters on close outs? Seems like this was something we consistently saw with Kihei. I suppose those extra couple of inches are a big (pardon the pun) difference maker.


    • I wouldn’t say worried. Harris is much better at closing out and is very quick to recover form help side – but it is the weakest area of his defensive game and the only way his opposition attempted to attack him with any regularity (primarily running off of screens into outside shots). The flip side of that is that it often means their primary ball handler is running off of screens instead of, well, handling the ball, which isn’t always a bad thing.


      • Makes sense. His athleticism should help there as well. I suppose I’m so used to guys shooting over Kihei that I’m predisposed to worry (not that I’m not a big Kihei supporter).

        Thanks for this, by the way, as always. I look forward to your articles – often click over just to see if anything new is posted. Nothing quite like this in the Hoos virtual universe right now. Keep up the good work!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the kind words! I hope for this to be the place where people can come if they want a deeeeeeep dive. Please keep coming back and let anyone else interested know! I’ll have one on Minor our next but not sure how long it’ll take.


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