Cleveland Forward Reduces MVP Selection Process to a Harris Poll : Productive Games Earn Cavalier Senior the Honor in Las Vegas

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

It was perhaps the toughest defense Lucious Harris was forced to put up all week. Over the course of 4 days, he had been hammered by surly centers from Kentucky, hounded by wily point guards from Washington and badgered by some of the best the Bay Area and South Bay have to offer.

Yet last Thursday night, a few moments after Harris helped take Cleveland to the championship of the 30-team Las Vegas Holiday tournament at Nevada Las Vegas, he was facing a different kind of full-court press.

Two of his sisters, Rhonda and Pamela, standing on their toes on either side of him, planted kiss after kiss on their embarrassed brother’s cheeks. It was hard to tell which was redder--Harris’ face or the lipstick deposited there by the smooches.


Harris squirmed. He blushed. A guy slams bodies all night with a tough team from Kentucky, and now he has to fend off his sisters? You bet.

“This is my little brother,” Pamela announced, beaming. “And we’re very proud of him.”

Well, he’s not little, but he is their brother. And for 5 tournament games, the 6-5, 180-pound senior was the kiss of death for Cleveland opponents.

Harris was named the tournament most valuable player after averaging 22.8 points and 10.4 rebounds in Cleveland’s 5 games. Harris, who will attend Cal State Long Beach, made 47 of 84 field-goal attempts (55.9%).

He made 3-point shots, scored on alley-oop dunks, in-your-face slams and finger rolls.

You name it, Harris scored in like fashion. The next plateau, in fact, has already been set forth by his coach.

“I think it’s just the beginning,” Cleveland Coach Bob Braswell said. “I think you’re going to see some games over 30.”

How efficacious was Lucious?

In a 97-65 win over Chaparral of Las Vegas, Harris scored 23 points and had a team-high 7 rebounds. He made 11 of 18 field-goal attempts, was named the game MVP and established a torrid tournament pace, scoring 10 points in the first quarter.

In an 85-72 second-round win over Skyline of Oakland, Harris had his most solid game, knocking down 10 of 12 field-goal attempts and adding a game-high 13 rebounds.

Eight hours after the Skyline game, in an 85-67 win over Rolling Hills in the quarterfinal round, Harris scored 28 points and had a game-high 15 rebounds. Again he was selected the game MVP.

In a 73-72 win over Redmond, Wash., in the semifinals, Harris had 20 points and 7 rebounds, both team highs. Again he was hot from the tip-off, scoring 9 of his 20 in the first quarter.

In Cleveland’s 74-63 win over Fairdale, Ky., in the final, Harris made 8 of 15 field-goal attempts and scored a game-high 21 points and added 9 rebounds. With center-forward Warren Harrell on the bench because of foul trouble, Harris scored 9 points in the third quarter as Cleveland outscored Fairdale, 16-9.

“I think he has big-time, second-guard size,” said Seth Greenberg, an assistant at Long Beach. “He has good size and he has guard skills. He’s ideal for the way we play, which is a lot like their style--the transition game.”