The commitment of Isabelle Harrison, a forward from Hillsboro High School in Nashville, brings Tennessee’s verbal commits from the class of 2011 to three. The early signing period for women’s basketball is Nov. 10-17. The Lady Vols have four scholarships to offer with three verbals from Harrison, Ariel Massengale, a 5’6 point guard from Bolingbrook, Ill., and Cierra Burdick, a 6’2 forward from Charlotte, N.C.
Harrison already knows Burdick from crossing paths with her at summer tournaments and also is very familiar with Massengale, who she confided in during the recruiting process. Both players were wooed by Kentucky, which was a finalist for both recruits.
“We continually talked back and forth about this whole process,” Harrison said. “When I called her she was so happy about it.”
Harrison called Pat Summitt on Thursday evening to verbally commit to the Lady Vols.
“She was happy,” Harrison said. “She said, ‘I can’t wait for you to get here.’ ”
Harrison’s sister, DeeDee Harrison, is a redshirt sophomore volleyball player for the Lady Vols, so the sisters will overlap in Knoxville for two seasons. Isabelle Harrison is one of 11 siblings – Idette, 32, Dennis Jr., 31, Danielle, 30, David, 28, Dianne, 26, Daniel, 24, Della, 22, DeeDee, 20, Isaiah, 18, Ian, 15 and Dorie, 12 – and several of the children have earned college athletic scholarships.
Her parents are Ida and Dennis Harrison, a Pro Bowl defensive end who played for Vanderbilt and in the NFL for 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, the then-Los Angeles Rams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons. Dennis Harrison is now a middle school teacher and coach in Nashville.
Harrison’s parents and two younger siblings accompanied her last weekend on her official visit to Tennessee.
A family environment, needless to say, was a necessity for Harrison, and she felt that connection during the visit to Tennessee.
“I wanted to get to know the coaches, but at the same time you’re not going to be around the coaches 24/7 like you are the girls,” Harrison said. “The connections I had with them it felt like I had been there for awhile. They were just really, really nice to me when I went up there. You could tell it was nothing fake, too.”
Harrison also looks forward to reuniting with her older sister.
“I know I have someone to be with all the time, and I love her,” Harrison said. “We grew up in the same room together so we’re close. I can see her more now because I do miss her a lot.”
Harrison is a lanky 6’3 – she looks like she inches closer to 6’4 – and will fill a position much needed at Tennessee. The Lady Vols have one last scholarship for the class of 2011 and have offers extended to Elizabeth Williams, a 6'3 post from Virginia Beach, Va., and Kiah Stokes, a 6'3 post from Marion, Iowa.
When Harrison is a freshman, post players Kelley Cain, Vicki Baugh, Glory Johnson and Alyssia Brewer will all be seniors. She can learn from those players and be ready to step into a larger role as a sophomore.
“I am ready to take on challenges,” Harrison said. “It makes me happy that (Summitt) has faith in me to do that for Tennessee.”
Harrison will bring speed to the post and she can play an up-tempo style of basketball.
“I feel like my strength is taking care of the ball even against (physical) defenders,” Harrison said. “I can post up and when I am on the wing I can go to the corner and shoot. I can run down the court.”
Harrison said an area to work on before arriving at Tennessee is her “mental strength,” as she gets prepared for challenging conditioning and court workouts.
Harrison played with the successful Tennessee Flight team in summer ball and is ranked No. 13 by Blue Star Basketball, No. 19 by All-Star Girls Report and No. 29 by ESPN Hoopgurlz in the class of 2011 after averaging 16.7 points and 11.1 rebounds as a junior at Hillsboro. She won a state title as Hillsboro as a sophomore, and the team made the playoffs in her junior season. Harrison also plays volleyball for Hillsboro.
Harrison’s final three schools were Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia.
“I kept an open mind because I know they are all good programs,” Harrison said. “But at the same time when DeeDee came home and told me all the stuff about Tennessee it made me want to look at them.”
Now, Harrison is relieved that the recruiting process is over.
“I can focus on other things now,” she said. “It’s every day (with questions about which school she would attend). People ask me all the time. I am so happy right now that it’s over.”