Harrar opens up about staying in ‘The happiest of valleys’
Following last season, there was an exodus from the Penn State Basketball program.
When Micah Shrewsberry was hired as head coach, Harrar faced a decision; join his former teammates elsewhere, or return to the only program he’s been part of.
Harrar compared his re-recruitment to Penn State Basketball to being ” … at the playground and hanging out with your best friends. Then, all your friends go to a new playground,”
For Harrar, though, the grass wasn’t guaranteed to be greener on the other side.
“So you think about following your friends,” Harrar admits. “But, they all found places that work for them and I found a place that works for me. I wanted to stay here and be coached by Coach Shrews, and have the Penn State community behind me.”
He went on to say “I love Penn State, the Happiest of Valleys. You gotta love being a Penn State Basketball fan.”
Harrar didn’t shy away from talking about going up against his former college roommate, Trent Buttrick.
The game did not go the Nittany Lions’ way, as Buttrick led UMass to an upset victory.
“I obviously am not happy (with the result) but I am happy for him,” Harrar says. “That was a lesson we needed as a team, it wasn’t the first time I’ve got my butt kicked and we went after it in practice the next day.”
In addition to Buttrick, Harrar says that he’s made a point to keep an eye on Jamari Wheeler, Izaiah Brockington, and the rest of his former teammates.
“With Jamari, I love that kid,” Harrar says. “I’m going to joke around with him (like Trent was), I’m going to be happy to see him. I watch everyone’s game, before this Zoom call, I was watching Iowa State (for Izaiah Brockington). I am rooting for them and for my teammates now. I love playing with Jalen Pickett, he knows the game of basketball so well.”
Before Shrewsberry’s arrival, and after Chambers’ dismissal, Jim Ferry was tasked with keeping the Nittany Lions together, and very nearly ran through last year’s Big Ten Tournament.
Harrar recalled what it was like playing for Ferry, and reminisced about his best basketball moment, the win at Virginia Tech last year.
“He’s hard-nosed, in your face,” Harrar said of Ferry. “We had this one practice after a loss at Michigan where we didn’t do the little things. Ferry was all on us at practice, so I’m hitting everyone like [Former Penn State Football DE] Yetur Gross-Matos going up for rebounds. Ferry looks at me, and I said ‘Yeah I didn’t mean to do that.’
Harrar also spoke to Ferry’s incredible ability to hold the group together last year, a season that truly was hanging by a string.
Harrar said that he keeps in touch with his former teammates and coaches, including Ferry, noting that they still all try to watch each other’s games.
John Harrar will be graduating with a first-year MBA this spring (he already has a Smeal College of Business undergraduate degree), and hopes to play professional basketball overseas.
“If it’s an opportunity I have, I want to take it,” Harrar says. “The long-term goal is to get into coaching (perhaps even here at Penn State, a ‘goal’ he spoke about in his graduate school application).
Harrar also spoke about all the great coaches he’s had in his career and stated it’s his “mission in life to have those types of impacts on his future players.”