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Former West Palm Beach High School Basketball Coach Discusses Another Local Star's Rise To The NBA

Tavarus Harris at Harris Athletics .jpg
Harris Athletics
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Tavarus Harris coached the Cardinal Newman High School basketball team for 12 years before leaving to launch his Harris Athletics training facility in Jupiter, Florida.

West Palm Beach native Scottie Barnes was among the top picks in last week’s NBA Draft. The Florida State University star is the second student-athlete from Cardinal Newman High School to go pro in the last four years.

Tavaris Harris was Barnes’ high school coach in 2017. Harris says, as a freshman, Barnes had all of the mental and physical intangibles of an NBA prospect when he led the school to the Class 5A regional semifinal game.

“He was doing things that a junior or senior would be doing,” said Harris. “So him having as much responsibility as [an upperclassman as] a freshman, it just gave you a vision and a view of the future of how much he would actually do when he becomes an upperclassman.”

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Barnes played one year at Cardinal Newman High School before transferring to Nova Southeastern University School in Fort Lauderdale and then to Montfort Academy in Mt Vernon, N.Y. The championship-winning schools are known for competing with and against top-ranked basketball players.

“I just think it was stages of his career and stages of his high school career of the levels that he wants to play to just put himself in situations to be at that national level.”

Scottie Newman varsity 2016-2017.jpeg
Cardinal Newman High School
Scottie Barnes wears the number 5 jersey in this freshman year photo shoot for Cardinal Newman High School.

Harris expects Barnes to make an immediate impact for the Toronto Raptors, who selected him with fourth pick in the NBA Draft. Barnes is a pass-first, flexible player who can guard all five positions and control the game.

Harris says that's the way the game is going.

“I just see him making other guys better basketball players and being the engine and the glue — meaning the ball moves better when it’s in his hands,” Harris said.

Barnes averaged 10.3 points, 4.1 assists, four rebounds as a freshman at Florida State. He was named this year’s Atlantic Coast Conference freshman of the year and the ACC's sixth man of the year.

Barnes' pick at number four was the highest a player from Palm Beach County has been selected into the NBA Draft.

Tavarus Harris also coached NBA star John Collins at Cardinal Newman High School. Collins attended all four years. After a two-year stint at Wake Forest, the Atlanta Hawks selected Collins with the 19th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Harris described Collins as “very detailed.”

“Anything he struggled with, anything that he didn't understand, he would ask questions,” Harris said.

Harris was the head coach for Cardinal Newman for 12 years before stepping away this year to place more focus on his Harris Athletics training facility.

In 2015, Harris and a business partner built a private facility in Jupiter. The facility trains players from middle school to the pro level. He also added a cheerleading program and a new basketball travel program.

Elite players have formed long-term developmental commitments with the veteran coach to hone their game.

“They trusted me with their basketball careers. They trusted my opinion. So they just followed me right on over to Newman,” said Harris. “It was a real cool thing to see those guys transition into professional basketball players and all the ones who transition into college basketball players.”