Blake Harper, a 6-foot-5 senior combo guard attending Gonzaga College High School, recently committed to play basketball at Howard University after choosing the Mecca over Radford and Fordham University.
With Harper hailing from the D.C. area, he adds himself to the growing list of players who have come to play for Howard during head coach Kenneth Blakeney’s tenure at the school.
Harper spoke on what led him to choosing Howard for the next journey in his basketball career, what sets him apart as far as his basketball talent, and what he looks forward to experiencing when he gets to the school.
Q: What was your recruitment process like in the first place?
A: I wasn’t really getting recruited my first three years of high school ball. Last year, I was listed around 6-foot-1 and then I really just had a growth spurt in a short period of time, and now I’m 6-foot-5. Howard was my first offer on June 26. So that was honestly the jumpstart in my recruitment when Coach Blakeney offered me a scholarship.
Just getting a head coach offer is a big thing in the basketball community. My next one was Manhattan and then I believe it was Fordham and then Radford. So I took a visit to Howard and then Radford. I then ultimately decided on coming to Howard.
Q: What really made Howard appeal to you then, being that all the schools in your recruitment process sought after you in such a short time?
A: Howard was the first school to believe in me. That’s the big thing. A lot of schools don’t want to be the first one to give a kid a scholarship offer. Especially not a head coach and I feel like Coach Blakeney really took a chance on me. He sacrificed a lot to get me to Howard. I trust him in everything he’s doing, and the program is growing. The university was just a fit for me.
Q: With you attending Howard Homecoming on your recruiting visit, what was your experience like?
A: It was like a dream. There were so many people, I went to so many events. I was hosted by Quinn Booker, Dylan Metoyer [and] Jordan Atkins… just really great guys and they treated me like brothers. They didn’t treat me like a recruit, they treated me like I was there already. I remember going to the alumni brunch where Coach and Daniel Marks introduced me to everybody, and it was beautiful.
A special woman came up to me and told me why Howard was a great choice for me, and I ran with it. She talked about the connections and the after college… how the alumni are still close together. So many people graduated from Howard, and I want to add my name to that list. I can’t wait to get there.
Q: How would you describe your game to someone who hasn’t seen you play before?
A: If you go see Blake Harper play, there’s nothing really flashy. I play the game the right way. I like to get my teammates involved. I’m really vocal on the court. If the shot is there, I’m gonna shoot it. I’m a player not looking for points or stats or anything like that. Whatever it takes to win, that’s what will be done.
Q: What have you been able to improve on in terms of the off-season, and being able to take on a bigger role this year as a senior captain?
A: Last year was my first year on varsity. I was a sophomore [on] JV, and not a lot of people have that development in their game, going from JV as a sophomore to having multiple scholarships offers. So, I mean it’s a blessing having this role. It’s a big jump in my personal development as well. I have just been talking with my coach, Coach Turner, about how I can complement the team and how the team needs a leader. I really want to fulfill that role.
Q: What are you looking forward to most at Howard. being so close to home and being able to represent an HBCU that means so much to Black culture?
A: I’d probably say that the biggest thing in my decision was my dad, family and my grandma. They can come and see me play and it’s so convenient, with it only being 10 minutes away from my house. It is nothing like home when you’re at home. I look forward to focusing on majoring in criminology. That’s a big thing for me as well.
I can’t find the words, but there’s nothing bad about Howard University. I’m just really excited to get there.
Harper will begin his senior season at Gonzaga College High School on Dec. 12, when they play Homewood-Flossmoor High School in the Chicago Elite Classic.
Copy edited by Whitney Meritus