It’s not that she would have any other way, but University of Texas point guard Rori Harmon can’t help but sometimes feel like it’s all just happening so fast.
With her sudden elevation has come responsibility, expectations and pressure.
“The biggest surprise to me is just coming into college and playing the minutes that I play and having the responsibility of the team,” Harmon said in a recent conversation with The Defender. “I knew it was coming but it came really fast and I have to hurry up and grow up and realize, `this is who I am and this is my responsibility.”
And by all accounts, the ultra-quick 5-foot-6 standout from Cypress Creek is handling all that is coming at her well. Harmon is playing 28.2 minutes per game while averaging 10 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists and has started 21 of the first 23 games she has played with the Longhorns.
The results on the court say she has been everything her reputation as a McDonald’s All-American and the 2021 Texas Gatorade Player of the Year said she would be. Harmon, a three-time Big 12 Freshman of the Week, was recently ranked as a Top 10 freshman in women’s college basketball by ESPN.
But Harmon is more focused and more excited about the rebuilding Longhorns women’s basketball team, which is ranked 16th in the country and is 17-6 and 7-5 in Big 12 play this season.
“Honestly, we are going to be a really good team, there’s no doubt about it. We are going to be really, really good,” Harmon said. “We are still learning.
“I will say it seems like we will get it some games and then some games it’s like, ‘where did it all go?’ but that’s not going to stop us. We are going to stay focused and go game-by-game. We will be alright.”
The team’s growth, as well as hers, has not been without some challenges and ups and downs. The 16th-ranked Longhorns started out the season with a bang, knocking off No. 2 Stanford. They’ve also had impressive wins over No. 7 Iowa State, No. 17 Texas A&M and coming into Wednesday’s game, they were riding a two-game winning streak, which included a win over 12th-ranked Oklahoma.
But Texas has also had some frustrating losses this season to Texas Tech, Kansas and back-to-back defeats against Baylor.
“It’s a little frustrating, just knowing the potential of our team,” Harmon said. “We are not getting away with some of these wins that we should be getting.
“That just means for me that we have to step it up in practice, we have to stay locked in and buy into what we are doing more because obviously we still have our mental lapses and we need to minimize those to the least possible.”
Demanding UT coach Vic Schaefer has seemed pleased with what he has gotten out of Harmon so far, but he certainly wants more from her and his other young players.
“Sometimes I look out there and they are coasting,” Schaefer said after a recent game. “They are gliders. I have to get them to get in their fifth gear. They are in their third gear and they are just moving and they look good in third gear but if you are going to win at this level you’ve got to get in fifth gear.”
Harmon has been in the fastest gear in some of the Longhorns’ biggest games this season. During the win against Stanford – her third game as a collegian – Harmon led the Longhorns with 21 points. Then in a four-point loss against 12th-ranked Tennessee, she came through with 10 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.
“With those games being live-streamed for basically the world to see, it was an opportunity not only for me but for us to get out there to show what Texans can do with Coach Schaefer and his coaching staff,” Harmon said.
“It feels great to be in the position that I am in, just coming into college and receiving so much attention as far how I play the game and how I’m getting my team to win certain games that people consider upsets – I wouldn’t consider them upsets because I have all the confidence in the world in my team.”
High School: Cypress Creek
Accolades: McDonald’s All-American, 2021 Texas Gatorade Player of the Year
Basketball Idols: Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Maya Moore
Quotable: “I loved Maya Moore for so long and I still do. She just had so much fire and she is so skilled and had so much power with everything that she did. And outside of the basketball part, she was an activist and fought for so many things. You would want to be like her.”