Most Viewed Stories
On a Faith Mission
Yuba College basketball stand out Sean Harris turns down scholarship offers from Division One schools to go on a faith mission
ean Harris nodded to the sidelines, tucked in his home white jersey and briefly shook hands with the visiting Merritt College starters — then he smiled and got down to business.
On that early February night, the Rocklin High product posted nine points, five rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocks — modest numbers for a highly-recruited player.
At 6-foot-7 with striking red hair, it's hard to miss the Yuba College freshman on the basketball court, but don't be surprised when his modest and easy-going personality doesn't match his play on the hardwood.
While he's as diligent on the basketball court as he is hitting the books (3.8 GPA), he's even more active elsewhere.
In fact, while playing basketball at the Division-I level would be a slice of heaven for Harris, it comes no where near the real thing.
It's not even close.
"Basketball is just a game," Harris said.
Big words for a big man.
The seemingly gifted and coveted athlete has turned down early offers to play at Wyoming and UC Riverside in favor of his first priority — faith.
"I think they wanted me to bypass my mission, but that's not an option," Harris said.
For Harris, his commitment to Jesus Christ and dedication to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as LDS church or Mormon church, comes first.
"We prefer Latter-day Saints or LDS," he added. "There's no question what's more important to me."
His humble, yet confident approach to the game and life is respected by his fellow teammates and coaches, and is a keystone on a team that is known for its cohesiveness.
"I was worried a little bit about how that (his faith) would play with the rest of the kids," said Yuba College head coach Doug Cornelius, "but the guys have really brought him in. And now he's the glue for us." So unified, the team is nearing 30 wins and another playoff run.
"I think the guys respect it. Sometimes they might joke around or poke fun about it (my religion), but it's all in good fun. We have a lot of jokesters on the team," Harris said. "No one gets super upset or offended."
But don't let the Sunday school boy fool you.
"He's just as goofy as the rest of them," Cornelius said. "You never know if he's being serious or joking with you."
He, along with the rest of his 49ers teammates, plays with pure athleticism, basketball smarts and, most importantly, under control — on-and-off the court, that is.
"I don't drink or smoke. I don't use drugs," Harris said. "I made a decision a long time ago to not do those things, so it's a little easier for me to say no."
Temptation for most teenagers can be the first step to destructive behavior. For Harris, the issue comes down to self control.
"I like to put myself in situations where I feel comfortable," Harris said. "It's one of those things where the coaches know, the people around me all know and they all accept me for who I am."
Harris' success doesn't surprise his coach Cornelius.
"Scouts and recruiters know he's going on a mission, but they still want him," Cornelius said. "He's that good."
UNLV, Bradley, University of Pacific, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, among others have also recently contacted the small forward.
But Cornelius believes that Harris would have another 15 schools to chose from if he wasn't going on a mission.
"Someone will offer him a scholarship and sign him before he leaves," Cornelius said. "A school has to show an act of faith and believe he'll be ready after his mission."
While Cornelius knew what he was getting into when he recruited Harris, the coach says it's still "crushing" that he's leaving the team.
"I knew I was getting him for only one year," he said. "He's such an unbelievable kid."
When Harris turns 19 years old in August, he'll be entering the first stage of a lengthy training session, which will prepare him for the church's protocol — a two-year mission.
And the Rocklin High product couldn't be more excited about the opportunity.
"I have three older brothers who all did it and they all told me it was the best experience of their lives," Harris said. "So I'm really looking forward to it."