Pine Bluff's Jordon Harris Shines Bright in Athletics and Academics at Mizzou
Only a freshman, Jordon's future is on target to skyrocket on and off the field.
Jordon Harris made a mark on Pine Bluff High School especially during the 2022-23 school year.
The basketball center didn’t just play one sport his senior year. Jordon actually played football for the first time in years under then first-year Coach Micheal Williams.
Jordon’s impressive plays on the field early in the season landed him several recruitment offers, but the Arkansas Razorbacks never called. That was okay. Jordon landed at the University of Missouri as a tight end for the Tigers.
This week Jordon is the Tigers’ academic player of the week. That's no surprise to those who know Jordon. Sports aside, Jordon could have landed at many universities solely on an academic scholarship.
“College is a terrific experience; I've met individuals I never would have imagined meeting,” Jordon wrote in a message this this week to me.
I asked him how studying for college classes was different than in high school.
“Simply because you are studying alone at college, studying is different,” he said. “It is your responsibility to do your assignment when it is due. The only requirement for pros and disadvantages is excellent time management.”
Coach Williams said of Jordon’s academic success at Mizzou, “Going to college is always an adjustment, most kids they have to learn study habits. Well, Jordon already developed that when the other kids were up playing during tutoring you will find Jordon in the corner reading a book.”
Little did Coach Williams know Jordon actually mentioned a book in the questions that I asked about his advice to students still in high school.
“Don't be afraid to be unique,” Jordon said. “I'm currently reading T.D. Jakes' book “Disruptive Thinking”. It provides an illustration of how individuals push and question the status quo rather than just accepting it.”
About Jordon from the Mizzou football website:
I interviewed Jordon several times during his senior year. This article was published on another website I own before the Pine Bluff Zebras basketball team won the 5A basketball state championship in Hot Springs.
Jordon Harris is one of the nicest people I have ever met.
He is a Pine Bluff High School senior Zebra who played football last season.
Currently, he is a six-foot-seven starter for the Zebras as they rack up wins in the state 5A basketball tournament in Pine Bluff.
I've met a lot of people. Important people, homeless people and everyone in between. Jordon takes politeness to another level and in a world where a lot of people are faking politeness, Jordon is sincerely polite.
I first met Jordon last fall when he was playing football, and I was a reporter for a local paper trying to learn a ton of players in a short amount of time. The pressure was intense. Players. Coaches. Stats. I was trying. Sports reporting is easier if you have followed a team or players for a couple of years. I had not.
Jordon quietly entered Coach Micheal Williams' office. He was dressed in khakis, I noted. I was frazzled. Jordon put me at ease immediately. He was as interested in me and my career as I was his. That struck me. He took time to listen.
On Friday afternoon in a tense tournament game at the Pine Bluff Convention Center against the Nettleton Raiders, Jordon brought calm along with points and rebounds to the game. Jordon scored 18 points and 17 rebounds. When the Zebras needed him most under the basket, he was there – never showing emotion as he scored, blocked and rebounded.
“My mindset was really straightforward: I just wanted to win,” Jordon told me after the game. “We observed Nettleton’s flaws in a film we view earlier which provided me with the determination to fight them today effective.”
Jordon and the rest of the Zebras did laser in on the flaws and fouled out two of the Raiders’ key players in the last half.
The Future Is Clear
When Jordon graduates in May, don’t expect to see him to see on a college basketball court. The student athlete with a 4.0 GPA is headed to the University of Missouri in Columbia to play football and study industrial engineering. He also has the high school’s highest student athlete ACT score.
Here’s the kicker. Jordon, a 230-pound tight end and defensive end, hadn’t played football since sixth grade. He focused on basketball, playing for the Arkansas Rising Stars when he was younger. Though he loves basketball, Jordon realized that D-I basketball offers might not roll in like football ones could.
Last summer, he decided to join the Zebra football team under first-year Coach Micheal Williams with hopes of landing a scholarship. He did just that in one season.
With that keen engineering mind of his, Harris studied football intently, watching film, studying plays and talking a lot with Williams about strategy. He also told me early in the season that Williams was teaching him everything he needed to know on and off the field.
“Jordon is a 4.0 student so he is every intelligent so much so that he felt like being a six-foot-seven forward he would make it big,” Williams told me. “The first touchdown Jordon made was a catch and he stiff-armed on two defenders to score.”
It got noticed. Jordon was rated No. 3 overall recruit for 2023 by 247Sports.com and the offers came from Lincoln University, Air Force, Vanderbilt, UCLA and others including Mizzou. He settled on Mizzou, he said, because he was two hours away from a family member so he would have a nearby family connection. But he also said he connected with the coaches. People ask repeatedly why he didn’t go to the University of Arkansas and play for the Razorbacks. The answer: The coaches didn’t recruit him. Their loss, I say.
In December the Zebras threw Jordon a party when he signed his letter of intent with Mizzou. Jordon is loved by Zebra moms, teachers, administrators, coaches and students. Like beloved.
Players talked about how Jordon was a huge influence in the lives on and off the field and court. He inspires them – and everyone around him regardless of age – to be a better person. And that’s what he wants to do with engineering. He plans to start his own company to help mankind.
“I chose the engineering path to make a company of my choice effective throughout the process when making products,” he said in our interview. “I just want to be able to help out to make something a better good for mankind in today’s world.”
IMO he will. I’m not alone.
“Jordon stands over six feet tall,” Ronnieus Thompson, Pine Bluff High School’s principal, said. “He is a star athlete and has a 4.0. gpa. He is a giant in the high school arena yet he is gentle and humble. Jordon the Gentle Giant.
Sure, he’s tall and that’s an advantage for a guy to leave a lasting impression. But it’s Jordon’s demeanor that sticks with you. One of his former coaches, Steve Barnett, tells this story about Jordon. Coach Barnett’s son, X'Zaevion (Zae), also on the Zebras basketball team, played football with Jordon last season.
“Jordon is nice to everybody, and he is very intelligent,” Barnett wrote to me in an email. “It all started from football. Me and a few guys formed a Turkey Bowl Football team with the class of 22 & 23 players. The team had good success that year so we decided to do it again the next year but on a bigger scale.
“We decided to take the kids out-of-state and play. When I saw how they performed out-of-state, I decided to just work with the class of ‘23. After playing with my travel football team a couple years I convinced Jordon to try basketball. I got Jordon when he was in the 4th grade and he couldn’t catch the ball, shoot the ball or dribble the ball. At one point the players on his current team now were the same players back then and they wouldn’t throw him the ball because they said he wouldn’t catch it. I told them to keep throwing it to him.
“It was so bad that his momma was finna make him quit because it was embarrassing to her. I convinced her to let him continue by showing her the progress he was making. By 7th grade he had turned into one of the top power forwards in the country. With that being said he is a hard worker and is determined to be the best he can be.”
Since I’m a music-obsessed freak, I always like to know what people like to listen. Plus, as a Gen X’er, asking teenagers about their music choices, keeps me in the know. Jordon listens to old-school music, he said, from artists like Wu-Tang Clan to Dru Hill.
Which Wu-Tang Clan member is his favorite?
“It’s between Method Man, ODB and Ghostface,” he said.
(Bonus points to Jordon for not being able to pick a favorite Wu-Tang member. Mine changes every time I re-listen to their debut album but always go back to Ghostface Killah.)
Okay, enough about Wu-Tang. Back to Jordon.
Regardless of where football takes him, it’s all about the books for this Gentle Giant off the court, Fierce Methodical Man on the field and court.
“No matter what one does in life, education comes first,” he said. “To improve yourself in school, you must pay attention. Along with that, acquired information helps one become intelligent.”
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