D’Angelo Harrison joined The Sport Rabbi to look ahead at Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion semifinal matchup with Hapoel Jerusalem on Sunday as well as his time with the club to date. We also look back at his time at St. John’s, playing abroad including at Hapoel Gilboa Galil in 2017/18 as well as his other stops in Turkey, the VTB League and France.
D’Angelo Harrison is a one of those players that you love to have on your team and just hate to have to play against. In Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion’s case and coach Guy Goodes they are lucky they don’t have to contend with the shooting guard and are able to benefit from his services.
Just before Rishon tips-off against Hapoel Jerusalem in one of the Israel Basketball League’s Final Four semifinal matchups on Sunday night, The Jerusalem Post had the chance to speak with the St. John’s University product. We look at the challenges ahead for his club while also reflecting on his career which already has included a previous stop in the Holy Land. But first off Harrison is content to be back on the court after the coronavirus break and how he along with the rest of the team were all able to come back and play for a title.
“I’m happy that basketball is back and I have the chance to play the game that I love and get paid by doing it. We kept communicating through the break and when Darryl (Monroe) decided to come back, Alex (Hamilton) and I knew it was a no brainer to return as well. We’re here to play basketball and compete for a championship.”
Rishon disposed of Maccabi Haifa in two games in their quarterfinal series and will have a week to ready for Hapoel Jerusalem. The Reds will certainly be a challenge for they wine city squad having not won in five meetings this season, “Credit to them, they do a great job and Jerusalem is a very good team. In the second game we played them after the break, we had chances to beat them and that’s all you can ask for. We made some mistakes down the stretch and they capitalized. Hopefully we can make something different happen.”
One of the big challenges for Goodes’s team will be shutting down Jeremy Pargo who was at the top of his game this past week in Jerusalem’s playoff tilt against Nes Ziona. Pargo who has played for Hapoel Gilboa Galil and won a championship with Coach Oded Katash went 6 for 8 from beyond the arc and was lethal in the game two victory to advance to the Final Four.
“At the end of the day great players do great things,” explained Harrison. “But we have some great players of our own. He will have to beat us if he wants to be Jeremy Pargo and he will also have to guard Alex Hamilton. We will have to pick and choose and force him to do things he’s not comfortable with. We want to make the game uneasy and uncomfortable, that’s what we do.”
Interestingly enough, Harrison was born in Anchorage, Alaska but moved to Texas at a very young age. “I was only there until I was 4 years old and then we moved to Houston. But I was able to back to Alaska when I was a junior in college and see what it’s really like. It’s a nature type of city and totally different than a place like New York.”
The 26-year old’s brother DeAndre was actually the talented ball player of the family before falling into problems with the law, “My brother was a star growing up and I just used to sit in the corner and shoot three’s to space the floor for him. When he got into trouble, he looked at me and said are you going to take a 9-5 job or take this basketball thing to another level. I wasn’t ranked when I began high school but when I finished I was the #1 player in Texas.”
After being recently released from prison, D’Angelo is in constant contact with his brother and would love to bring home a wonderful present with him from Israel, “I was lost for words when he was released and being able to have him on FaceTime and not have to pay for every call. We can stay on all day now. It’s been amazing and I can’t wait to see him and I hope I can bring back the championship.”
Harrison attended St. John’s University and had a chance to play with future NBA player Maurice Harkless while also having the opportunity to go to the NCAA March Madness Tournament in his senior year.
After graduating, Harrison attended a number of NBA workouts and when he was with the Houston Rockets he received a surprising phone call, “I got an offer from Uşak Sportif in Turkey and I was like wow. Six figure offer as a rookie, I was gone and I’ve been in Europe ever since.”
“In my rookie year I had a good group of older guys on the team, who were able to guide me such as Khem Birch who now plays for the Orlando Magic, Andre Harris, Girodan Watson and Paul Harris. We surprised a lot of teams in Turkey and having them give me advice how overseas basketball really works was very helpful paving the way for me.”
Following two seasons in Turkey, Harrison arrived in Israel and signed with Hapoel Gilboa Galil and to his surprise a bunch of players were from his home state of Texas including one J’Covan Brown who starred for Jerusalem the past two years. “When I got there they asked me if I knew J’Covan Brown. I told them right there and then to sign him immediately. After he pulled up in Gan Ner, I couldn’t believe my eyes as I’ve known him forever. I would go watch him play when he visited Houston and he’s always been a killer on the court and a genuine person off of it.”
That season, Gilboa Galil and Jerusalem played to hotly contested playoff series that saw the Galilee team take the first game, but the Reds then won 3 close games in a a row to go to the championship.
Harrison will look to find a way to get by Jerusalem this time as he tells us what the key will be for Rishon Le’Zion, “We’ve just got to stay consistent with everything. I’ve been wearing the same shorts to each gameday and we just have to stay to our same routine.”