By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s helped the United States win a gold medal in international competition as well as leading Bowling Green High School to the state championship last year as an eighth-grader. He recently became only the second freshman to be invited to Big Blue Madness in John Calipari’s nine years at UK.
So how did Zion Harmon – who said Madness “was great” after his tirp – end up at Adair County High School in Columbia for his freshman season this year?
“He chose to go to Adair County,” said Mike Harmon, Zion’s father. “He has a good spiritual base and keeps things low key. At Adair County he can focus on what he needs to do 120 percent of the time. It will be a good balancing thing for him. If he gets caught up in rewards and not what it takes to get rewarded from hard work, then he has a problem.
“He has been the No. 1 player in his class since second grade (when he was 11 and in the fourth grade the NBC-TV affiliate in Washington, D.C., noted how the 93-pound Harmon normally scored 30 to 40 points per game in AAU play). He’s played with top AAU teams. At a young age he flew all over the country to play basketball. But with privileges and being in the limelight you have to learn how to balance everything.
“He could have gone to a number of prep schools. He has an opportunity to go to Adair and lead a team from nothing to something. With all his accomplishments and talent, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity for him to do something special.”
Rivals.com basketball recruiting writer Krysten Peek said to write Harmon off because of his size is a big mistake.
“The first thing that sticks out about him is how much smaller he is than most players, but he’s one of the quickest guards you will see. He has great court vision and is able to find guys in the post,” said Peek. “He’s young, but the way he carries himself is something special. He uses his size and quickness to his advantage. He can pickpocket anyone at any time. He was really impressive at the USA training camp.”
Harmon’s father says his son needed major leadership skills to help Bowling Green win a state title. That’s why he wants him to set high goals for Adair County this season.
“Adair County is a major challenge for him but I believe they can shock the state and country,” Mike Harmon said. “For me as a father, coming to Adair County eliminates a lot of week day distractions for him. He can focus on the work he needs to do behind the scenes to get where he wants to go and to keep going there. I don’t ever want him to the point where he’s satisfied.”
While Zion Harmon is one of the top recruits in the 2021 class, he likely will reclassify to the 2020 class. Harmon, who turned 15 in March, is taking six core classes at Adair this year.
“He’s a pretty smart kid. He never struggles in school,” his father said. “Our goal is to finish high school in three years. That’s why he’s already getting stuff taken care of academically. I want him to stay focused and keep grinding. He’s a good kid at heart and adjusts to what comes his way.”
He already has scholarship offers from Tennessee, SMU and Stephen Austin with plenty more to be coming soon.
He’s from the Bethesda, Md., area but lived in Tennessee before coming to Bowling Green last season. Now he’s in a completely different type of spot in Columbia.
“Moving to Adair County has been tougher on him than I thought,” his father said. “But with great sacrifice comes great rewards. Besides, on weekends he’s always away doing stuff. During the week now he can just focus on academic/athletics and just grind. In the long run, this will be really good for him. Some kids get swallowed up in the limelight. I want him to understand the source of everything he has become is because of Christ and to keep that focus and trust God in the midst of the many rewards he’s already got.”