Utes guard Tony Harvey called his days playing for then Runnin' Utes head coach Rick Majerus "a wonderfully educational adventure every single day."
Harvey said that after looking over his college options, Utah just seemed to be the right fit.
"I heard all those things," Harvey said. "'You don't want to go to Utah' from opposing recruiting schools, from players. 'You don't want to go to Utah,' the Mormons and the weather and this and that, and none of that really bothered me."
"During the recruiting season, you hear everything, the good, the bad, the true, the untrue. But if you look at a lot of the universities, a lot of the more competitive universities around the country, well, a lot of them are not in a setting where it's traditionally all black people or black guys. At one point, I was looking at the possibility of going to the University of Kansas. Well, Lawrence, Kansas versus Salt Lake City, Utah… right? But you never hear, 'Oh, you don't want to go to Kansas.'"
"I loved it in Salt Lake City from the first moment I touched down here. Once I met the guys and saw the structure and how serious basketball was at the time, it was a no-brainer."
Playing under demanding head coach Rick Majerus was an experience that Harvey says ran the gamut from happy to sad to frustrating and everything in between. But it was an experience immediately after his transfer that sticks in Harvey's mind the most. After a practice prior to a game against Utah State, Majerus took Harvey aside and asked him if he'd missed any classes. Harvey admitted that he had missed one class. Apparently, he had a group presentation due that his group was not prepared to give, so they instead missed class to better prepared their presentation. Harvey and his group eventually earned a B+, but to Rick Majerus, a stickler for the educational opportunity college athletics afforded his players, there were no valid excuses. Harvey got dressed down in front of the entire team and suspended for the Aggie game. In the locker room afterward, starting point guard Andre Miller took Harvey aside and apologized.
"Andre walked up to me and said, 'Dude, I forgot to talk to you about that. From this day forward if coach Majerus ever, ever, ever asks you if you missed class…' and he said something to the effect 'I don't care if you've never been to class, you say no.' Thanks, 'Dre. It's too late now. I had my family and parents coming in for that game, but thanks for that."
"A great competitor. Still one of the best guys I've ever known. I knew early on he had a goal to be an NBA pro, and not just an NBA pro, but a good NBA pro. And he worked every day to be that." - Tony Harvey about Andre Miller
Harvey says that from the legendary Majerus, he learned how to see the game of basketball two or three moves ahead of the competition and how to play for the team. He also confirmed that his coach had them so well prepared they not only knew the opposing teams plays, they felt they could run them as well as the opposition.
"From an Xs and Os perspective, I've never seen or been around or played for a coach that had us more prepared or more educated on the little things about basketball," Harvey said.
"I remember coach Majerus saying, 'We're going to tell a team how they're going to score and where they're going to score.'"
Off the court, Harvey said Majerus taught them how to work hard and taught them the benefits of sacrifice, of pushing yourself farther and harder than you ever thought you could have.
"Donnie Daniels, our assistant coach, told me, 'The first rule is you have never worked hard enough,'" Harvey said. "He said, 'You have never worked this hard, and there is no such thing as hard enough or good enough. When you can get that through your mind, then you've won.'"
Harvey's career straddled the transition period between the 16-team super conference that was the Western Athletic Conference and the break-away Mountain West Conference.
"I didn't miss going to El Paso," Harvey noted. "Fresno State was fun, but other than that, I liked the way the Mountain West was structured, the Mountain West having those [ESPN] Big Monday games was fun. The cities were always cool, except Laramie, Wyo. They could have kept Laramie."
Harvey finished his junior year averaging nine points, 2.8 rebounds, and shooting .359 from three-point range. After the graduation of Andre Miller, Harvey took over the point guard duties, averaging 11.5 points, five rebounds, shooting .392 from deep and .763 from the free throw line, all while playing nearly 40 minutes a game (37.5).
Would you like to participate in a future recording of The U Fan Cast and share your thoughts, passion, and opinions? Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get you on the show!
You can also subscribe and listen to the podcast on iTunes! Click here!