Ryan Harrow apparently has always had an outgoing, engaging personality that has not changed since he transferred from ¿North Carolina State to Kentucky this season.
“We used to take Ryan out to dinner when he was about 3 years old and he always wanted to go over to the next table and speak to people. We had to tell him not to do that. But he’s always been that outgoing,” said Fern Matthews-Harrow, the sophomore point guard’s mother.
“Sometimes that personality can be like a double-edge sword. He relates to fans well, but I¿have tried to tell him time and time again they know him only for playing basketball, not as an individual. He tries to be as open with people as he can.”
Harrow certainly was open in a preseason interview about how much he missed his mother, who continues to live in North Carolina after moving from Atlanta.
“My corporate office is in Atlanta. We were in Atlanta for 18 years, but I am able to work from home now,” Matthews-Harrow said. “When Ryan came to North Carolina State, I moved her to be near my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.¿I did not want to just pick up and leave because he left for Kentucky.
“They mean as much to me as he does. I did not want them to think I just had to leave because he did. Maybe next year (I’ll move to Kentucky). We’ll have to see what happens.
“I do hope to be able to come. We are very close. But I¿am actually close to both my children. They are 14 years apart. They are both almost like only children. He’s close to his sister, too. “
She will be in Lexington this weekend to watch her son participate in Friday night’s season-opening Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena.
“I was following how the camp-out went (for Madness tickets). Those fans really are crazy,” she laughed and said.
She hopes the fans will help support her son this season when he’s unable to participate in games because of his transfer. He averaged 9.3 points, 3.2 assists and 1.9 rebounds per game last year in 29 games, including 10 starts, at N.C. State before transferring after coach Sidney Lowe was dismissed.
“It will be hard for him not playing. I¿think probably more so when the team is traveling and he is alone in Lexington,” Matthews-Harrow said. “That will be the really hard part. He can’t travel unless he goes on his own. His dad works for an airline, so Ryan could fly free. He can follow the team if his schedule in terms of class and weightlifting allows him to.
“But his whole thing when he made this decision to transfer was that his mindset was he had to get stronger, put on more weight. Once he started working out and talking to coach Cal (John Calipari), he realized this is a great opportunity because he gets to learn coach Cal’s system before he steps on the floor to play. It will be difficult at times not playing, but I think he will be able to handle it.”
He has some experience missing games. He played his high school freshman season at Walton High School in Marietta, Ga., before transferring to Concord Cannon School in North Carolina as a sophomore where his brother-in-law was coaching. However, his grandmother died unexpectedly in December, 2007, and soon afterwards he decided to come back home even though he had to sit out the rest of the season.
“That was the first death Ryan really ever experienced,” his mother said. “He was close to my mother. He just wanted to be back home. We buried my mom in January, and in February Ryan asked to come back home to finish school. He took the situation very hard. He had to wait until his junior year to play again. He played in the summer, but he couldn’t play for his high school team.
“He knows what it is like to sit out, but this situation is a little different because he has a very high competitive spirit. He wants to play. As difficult as it might be not playing, he at least has been through it. He will be able to handle and focus. If he doesn’t, I will make sure he does.”
Matthews-Harrow knows the legacy Calipari has with point guards Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, John Wall and Brandon Knight, all NBA first-round draft picks. She knows the talent of true freshman point guard Marquis Teague and how going against him daily this year will help her son, who scored 2,000 points in his three-year Georgia prep career and was the state Gatorade Player of the Year his final season.
“I¿know coach Cal has had tremendous point guards. Obviously when we, and that includes his dad as well, sat down and talked about this move we realized coach Cal has the experience to teach Ryan to get to the next level where he wants to go,” she said. “But I don’t think of that as pressure. The point of making this decision was that he would be around great players to play around all year. All that can do is make you better.
“There’s not a feeling he has to fit into someone else’s shoes. I am Ryan’s mom, so I am a little biased, but I think he is good. I think he will hopefully leave an impression as other point guards who have played for coach Cal have left an impression so people will want to follow in his footsteps. I hope he takes his work ethic and puts it to use in terms of being consistent. But there’s no pressure because we never compare our son to anyone else.”
She’s also appreciative of how Calipari handled everything about her son’s recruitment from the time he originally committed to North Carolina State until his arrival at UK.
“Coach Cal did not come after Ryan once he went to North Carolina State. I would not allow Ryan to de-commit. I¿take that responsibility,” she said. “I wanted him to be a man of character and commit to his word and go forward.
“I hate that it worked out the way it did, but obviously we are just so thankful to coach Cal that he sees what Ryan’s potential can be and what he can bring to his team and that he allowed him to come to Kentucky over other point guards he could have gotten out of high school that would not have had to sit out a year. We won’t forget that.”
UK Basketball: PG Harrow's mother thinks her son will adjust to not playing
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