Ty Harris doesn’t know how March and April would have played out — no one does, despite one “projection” — but there’s one thing the South Carolina point guard knows for certain.
“March Madness has that name for a reason, it’s madness, so you don’t know what can happen. Anything can happen, and we hadn’t played everybody [in the country],” the Gamecocks’ senior captain began. “But I do know we were the number one team in the nation to end it all. And right now.”
“… I’d raise a banner. We could raise a banner for being the number one team in the nation.”
Harris spoke with Spurs & Feathers Tuesday night from her home in Indiana — where she has been since South Carolina captured the SEC Tournament title — about several topics, including her thoughts on the canceling of the NCAA Tournament because of COVID-19 and her plans for April 17th’s WNBA Draft.
She saw on March 23, just like thousands of South Carolina fans, how ESPN’s BPI projected Baylor would beat the Gamecocks in a national title game if the tournament actually happened.
“I didn’t think too much of it,” Harris said. “Who’s to say that would really happen? It’s just projection. I just kind of laughed.”
Harris, though, said she would be in favor of somewhere down the line playing some kind of unofficial game between the Gamecocks and any of this season’s top contenders.
“I would. I think everybody feels that way though,” she said. “I feel like all the top teams feel like they would do the exact same thing. … I think that would be a fun thing to do.”
Harris and her family drove nine-and-a-half hours from Greenville, S.C. to Noblesville, Id. after the SEC Tournament. She planned on being home for four days until she had to return to Columbia, S.C. for classes and to begin preparation for the final games of her college career.
A couple of days into her stay at home the NCAA released a statement saying no fans could attend the tournament.
“I was upset about that, but somebody kept telling me, ‘Just be grateful that you can still play,’” Harris said. “And then that’s when [Utah Jazz player] Rudy Gobert [tested positive] and they suspended the NBA season.
“In the team group chat we were talking about, ‘What if they suspend or cancel our tournament?’ And we were all talking about how we didn’t want that to happen.”
The day before Harris was set to travel back to South Carolina the NCAA officially announced the cancelation of the tournament. A text from Gamecock head coach Dawn Staley confirmed it.
Initially Harris felt sadness and disappointment.
“I don’t think the tears started coming really until everybody found out and all the staff and trainers texted me saying how we had a great year and how they were so happy to be in my life,” she said. “Just finally realizing I won’t get to see them anymore.
“It was disheartening. We were heartbroken. I was heartbroken. I didn’t like it. But now that days and weeks have past, I’ve kind of faced the fact that there’s not going to be a tournament. I’ve moved on and I understand why they did it.
“I’m really focused on just the draft and seeing what’s going to happen in the WNBA.”
That comes in just over two weeks and will air at 7 p.m. on ESPN. (One prominent mock draft, draftsite.com, has Harris projected to be the No. 5 overall pick.)
For now, with gyms closed because of social distancing restrictions, Harris’s workouts have consisted of morning runs and in-home weights. She still does ab workouts and squats.
“I just have to try to find anything that’s heavy and put it in a bookbag and try to work out with that on,” she said.
Unfortunately, plans of a draft night party in Miami with fellow Gamecock senior Mikiah Herbert Harrigan had to be canceled. She will instead spend draft night at home with her immediate family.
“I am dressing up, though,” Harris made sure to point out, although she doesn’t have an outfit picked out yet.
Harris averaged 12 points, an SEC-best 5.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game for the Gamecocks this season before the season was canceled.
The sure-handed point guard was also 10th in the nation with a 2.78 assist-to-turnover ratio and averaged a shade under an 87 percent from the free-throw line.