Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md./St. Maria Goretti) got a running start to what promises to be a very exciting senior season for the Eastern Mennonite University men’s basketball player.
In last weekend’s tournament at Messiah College, Harris-Winn averaged 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds over the course of the two games. In the championship game against Messiah he earned his first double-double since his sophomore season with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
“I felt we played well,” he said. “There were key plays in the championship game that we didn’t make as a team, there were some stops we didn’t make as a team, but I think we’re getting better defensively, which was our focus this year. I think we’re getting better, but I think we still have work to do.”
After a difficult junior season, Harris-Winn put in a lot of work to make sure his last year at EMU is a success.
“I just got in the gym over the summer, made sure I worked hard,” he said. “Last year, my junior year, I went through a little bit of a slump the whole year, so this year I wanted to focus on not thinking about that too much, increasing my mental toughness, which is something I really needed to work on, making sure I got back to the roots of how I was successful my sophomore year.”
Head coach Kirby Dean has noticed the difference.
“Isaiah has made as big of a jump between his junior and senior years as any kid I’ve coached,” Dean said. “As a senior he has that ‘sense of urgency’ to find ways to be successful and now, not only is he scoring points for us, but he is also doing the little things that help a team win like playing good defense and rebounding the ball.”
Harris-Winn has high hopes for the team this year.
“My goals for the team is to win the conference and then go to the NCAA Tournament, and then hopefully make a run there,” he said. “I want us to be better defensively and offensively.”
He also loves the camaraderie with his team and wants to continue to build the team chemistry.
“Each year I’ve been around a funny group of people,” he said. “I think that’s something I look forward to each year. When the season starts we’re all around each other so much, we can joke around. I can relate to them. So I think the brotherhood aspect is something I really like that EMU has in the basketball program. The family. I like the family environment.”
When Harris-Winn was in middle school he played three different sports: football, basketball and baseball. Eventually he dropped the other two sports; basketball is the one he kept coming back to.
“Basketball is the sport I was best at,” he said. “I stuck with that.”
A business administration major, Harris-Winn hopes to own his own store someday.
“My friend and I have been talking about starting a store where we buy vintage clothes — go thrifting basically. Then we’re going to resell those clothes for a higher price to people. So, like, finding old streetwear, you know, for two dollars or something like that and then selling it for ten or fifteen dollars.”
For now, however, Harris-Winn will focus on making the most of his last season at EMU.
“This is my senior year,” he said, “so I’m realizing that every game is my last here.”
After seeing how Harris-Winn has approached the opening weeks of the season, Dean expects to see great things from him.
“I think the sky is the limit for his senior year, if he continues with this type of mentality for the entire year,” he said.