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St. Mary's Ryken senior Harris picks Cleveland State for women's basketball

Published by The Enterprise on May 8

By Paul Watson

Under normal circumstances, high school seniors would get to visit a college or university that he or she would be interested in attending for the next two to four years of their lives, if not longer.

But these are not normal circumstances. The coronavirus pandemic forced higher institutions to close for the spring semester and therefore athletes like St. Mary’s Ryken High School senior Raevyn Harris would make their decisions based on phone calls and other forms of technology.

Harris Girls Basketball

Raevyn Harris will play for Cleveland State University in the fall. 

Harris recently decided that her next chapter would be to play women’s basketball at Cleveland State University, one she made without actually visiting the Ohio campus.

“I hadn’t seen the school, I hadn’t face-to-face met the coaches or the team, but it was really hard, but I knew I had to take that chance,” she said. “It was an opportunity and I had to take it. I’m actually glad I did honestly.”

Despite not having seen the school in person, it didn’t take Harris very long to make her decision.

“After I talked to all the coaches a whole bunch of times, they called me one time and they offered me and 30 minutes later I was like, ‘OK, I’ll take the offer.’” It just felt right. I’m glad I did that,” she said.

Cleveland State is an NCAA Division I school which went 21-11 this past season and reached the semifinals of the Horizon League tournament.

Girls Basketball Harris

“I didn’t really get the chance to actually visit the school, but they called me and said they were interested,” said Harris, who plans to major in business marketing. “They had seen film on me and all that, so I talked to the head coach (Chris Kielsmeier) and he really wanted to build his program. He told me he was looking for somebody like me and he said I could really change the program, so after our first talk I really looked into the team and the coaches and they all have really good backgrounds.”

St. Mary’s Ryken head girls basketball coach Toyja Somerville said Cleveland State is getting from Harris “a first in the gym, last out of the gym player.”

“Though Raevyn has increased her skillset each year that I have known her, she still has a very huge upside,” Somerville said. “What is going to happen is a marriage of her willingness to learn and Cleveland State’s desire to teach. That marriage will produce the best version of Raevyn Harris. I’m excited to see her growth on the next level.”

Harris, who said she has been playing basketball since the fifth or sixth grade, played for three different schools in St. Mary’s County during her four-year high school career and was involved in over 60 victories.

“At first, it was just like a game, a way to stay in shape,” she said. “And then when I got with [coaches], they told me more about the game and I fell in love with it. It’s not because I’m tall or I’m the perfect size for a basketball player. It’s a really unique game, so once I learned that and more about it, I just fell in love with it.”

Harris went to King’s Christian Academy in Callaway for her freshman year and the Eagles won Metro Independent Schools Athletic League and Maryland Christian Schools Tournament championships, finishing 22-7 overall.

After going to Great Mills for her sophomore season, Harris finished her career with back-to-back campaigns at St. Mary’s Ryken where the Knights enjoyed double-digit winning seasons.

“We told Raevyn’s parents a few years back that if they trusted us with their most valuable asset — their baby girl — that she would go on to play college ball on scholarship,” Somerville said. “Raevyn and her parents trusted us without hesitation. Even when things looked bad, they never questioned our decisions or her playing time, etc. They always stuck to the plan and the process. The result is a full scholarship to a D-I program on the rise.”

Somerville was also Harris’ coach at King’s Christian.

“Raevyn has grown as a student-athlete,” Somerville said. “I first met Raevyn as a tall seventh grader who was very unsure of herself on and off the court. She is leaving as a strong, confident young woman who is very comfortable in her skin.”

Harris noted her many coaches and that she wouldn’t be where she is today without them.

“I feel like if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be in this position. I’ve had a lot of different coaches, but without them I wouldn’t be where I am,” she said. “They know what I’m capable of and they open my eyes to see what I’m capable of, so they’re not just coaches to me. They’re actually family, they teach life lessons about the game. They’re just real, they’re the realist people I know, so I feel like if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know what I would be doing.”

And their help, as well as many others, have aided Harris throughout a basketball career that will continue at Cleveland State, a place she will get to see sometime soon.

“I’m hungry to change everything. I know I’m going to come out as a different person than I am now,” she said. “So I know that I’m definitely changing the program, not just the program, but who I am as a person and all of that. I think I’m going to be great. I’m going to be good.”

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