JR Harris grabbed a rebound, dribbled through the defense and leaped over a defender to make a 3-pointer.
Seconds later, Harris repeated the feat, this time sinking a jumper from the left wing in a summer league game.
Harris never hesitated. He never looked at his surgically repaired right knee until someone asked about it.
?Oh, the knee is good,? Harris said. ?It?s back to about 90 percent. Most of it now is mental.
?I?ve got some things to work on. More than anything else, I?m glad to be back.?
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Harris is back, but in a different place and with goals that likely baffle football recruiters.
The senior-to-be transferred from Redemptorist to Southern Lab in January with his mind made up to focus on basketball.
That move came less than three months after Harris, a highly regarded defensive back, suffered a season-ending knee injury while getting in position to make a tackle against West Feliciana High.
?The quarterback was coming at me,? Harris said. ?So I broke down in my stance, and when I did, that my right foot was in the mud.
?When I planted my foot, it (knee) just gave out. I knew it was bad right away.?
Harris was right. A torn anterior cruciate ligament ended his junior year. Dr. Brent Bankston surgically repaired Harris? knee a few weeks later, beginning a road to recovery that was painful physically and mentally.
Days after the surgery, Harris said he wasn?t on the list of Redemptorist players scheduled to attend a basketball jamboree, a reminder that he was sidelined. Instead of buying a ticket, he went home and lifted weights.
Next came the move to Southern Lab, a school located closer to his north Baton Rouge home.
?My dad and I talked about it for a long time, and we decided it was best for me to go to Southern Lab,? Harris said. ?We live closer to Southern Lab, so it made things easier in terms of me getting to school and to other places. It?s more of a basketball school.
?Football is over. I have no plans to play football again. My focus is basketball. That?s my passion. It?s the sport I love.?
When Southern Lab lost the Class 1A title basketball title game to White Castle in March, Harris was visibly upset even though he couldn?t play because of the knee injury.
?JR was more upset than some of the kids who got to play,? Southern Lab coach Lonnie Machen said. ?He told me ?I think I could have helped us win.? And I agree with him on that.
?JR is so competitive and he?s also a natural born leader. He played with some of the guys on our team when he was younger, so they accepted him right away. He?s already making an impact for us.?
Even though the recovery from the knee injury is nearly complete, Harris knows there are other obstacles to tackle in more than a metaphorical way.
The last time Harris played prep basketball was his sophomore season, when he averaged 19.8 points and 9.0 rebounds and was voted the MVP of District 7-3A. At that time, he played the role of a forward.
Now two inches taller, Harris will be either a point guard/shooting guard for the Kittens.
?Not a week goes by without me getting calls from college coaches about JR,? former Redemptorist football coach Guy Mistretta of The Dunham School said. ?They want to know where he is, and if he?s playing football, and I tell them it?s my understanding that he won?t play football any more.
?JR is a very talented athlete and is a student of any game he plays. His father coached our middle school teams at Redemptorist, and you can tell he?s the son of a coach. There?s not a doubt in my mind that he could play either sport on the college level. He?s made a choice.?
James Harris said his son?s decision is his alone. The elder Harris was a volunteer assistant women?s basketball coach to Sandy Pugh at Southern University from 2000-02.
Though he didn?t play basketball at Scotlandville High, James Harris played in a men?s basketball league in the 1980s and early 1990s with future NBA players Avery Johnson and Bobby Phills and Ledell Eackles.
Last summer, Harris played on a men?s league team his father coached that included former Woodlawn guard Ledell Eackles Jr. That experience followed several years of playing basketball against older competitors at the North Baton Rouge Community Center.
As a 15-year-old, Harris played on a New Orleans-based AAU team that included several top prospects, including Riverside Academy?s Ricardo Gathers.
?The thing I?ve tried do is pass along the right way to play the game,? James Harris said. ?It starts with defense and with solid fundamentals.
?He?s been around basketball all his life and he?s learned so much. I have a passion for basketball and so does he.
?But this isn?t about me. My time is over. JR has to make the decisions that are right for his future. He picked basketball.?
The player who intercepted a pass and returned it 32 yards in Redemptorist?s early-season win over Patterson in a nationally televised football game has attracted some basketball interest from Brown, Princeton and Utah.
?When we had JR, he was one of the top players from the Baton Rouge area,? New Orleans-based coach Charles Julien said. ?He is one of those guys who could play either sport in college.
?Let?s face it, where we live football is the sport everybody is focused in on. There are more scholarships available for football, too. It?s a tough decision and you have to respect the decision.?
There are skeptics who question Harris? decision to only play basketball. Harris also has his share of fans.
?That young man is one of the best basketball players we?ve had come through our gym,? North Baton Rouge Community Center gym manager Robert Lands said. ?He?s in here every day working to get better.
?Mark my words, he?s going to surprise some people this year.?