Utah State basketball: Sean Harris is more than his high-top
Aggies forward — and his hair — stand out in a crowd
Published: January 31, 2014 11:22PM
Updated: January 31, 2014 11:35PM
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Lennie Mahler | The Salt Lake Tribune Utah State Aggies forward Sean Harris watches from the bench as the Aggies face BYU at EnergySolutions Arena on Nov. 30, 2013.

Logan • It’s gotten him nicknames in the locker room: Mr. Celebrity. Mr. Famous. Mr. Big Time.

Wherever Aggies forward Sean Harris goes, people can’t stop staring at his hair: A carrot-colored, six-inch tall high top fade that USA Today called “the greatest flat top in basketball, and maybe the world.”

Twitter users and bloggers snapped to attention this week as Harris’ hairdo popped up in Utah State’s games on ESPNU against San Diego State and New Mexico. Perhaps the most bewildered by the viral appeal of his style is Harris himself.

His Utah State teammates certainly aren’t holding back.

“It’s not weird to me, because I saw it grow day by day: I’m kind of like an uncle to it,” roommate and teammate Danny Berger said. “I like it. I want him to grow it higher, see how tall it can get.”

The story of the hair isn’t terribly compelling: The 6-foot-7 Harris wore short hair almost his whole life, and simply tired of it. He wondered what growing a high top would look like. He never truly considered how people might react to it.

But the now-famous haircut may be better understood as an extension of Harris himself. A light-skinned, multiracial big man, Harris has never had a problem standing out. Those awkward gawks pass over him like sunshine, and he pays as much attention to them.

“To me, that’s just natural now,” he said. “Wherever I go, there’s always people saying ‘Cool hair,’ or even making fun of it. I just wanted to see how this hairdo looked, and I’m just trying to be myself.”

Most Utah State fans are accustomed to seeing Harris on the end of the bench, either laid up with injury or as a lightly used backup. In his senior season, the only one at Utah State he’s been healthy for, Harris has played in six games and scored two points.

But among the team, he has one of the largest personalities. Teammates describe him as the “fun guy,” an upbeat presence who has a contagious joy. When Harris tells a joke, he inevitably stumbles over his own laughter to the finish, and his teammates are in stitches before he’s even finished.

“The way he laughs,” Ben Clifford said, “you can’t help but laugh, too.”

His uplifting attitude seems to be at odds with the adversity he’s faced in his career. As a freshman at Yuba College, he averaged a double-double and nearly won conference player of the year. But Harris hasn’t played much basketball since: He went on an LDS Church mission to Honduras, then sat out two years dealing with two ACL tears in the same knee.

The second time he was injured was on his first day back at practice since his first surgery. Dealing with a second rehab, working three hours a day to strengthen his muscles and ligaments, was mentally and physically draining.

The hardest part, Harris said, was that he never could be sure he would be able to play again.

“After a second surgery, there was a good possibility that it wouldn’t hold up,” he said. “I would tear it a third time, and then I would be done playing forever. It’s made it this far. It’s pretty good now.”

While practice can be drudgery for many, for Harris, it’s his time to shine. He looks forward to every practice and drill, because nearly five years off the court taught him to appreciate when he is able to play.

Even if he’s better known for his hair than his on-court contributions by the time he leaves.

Utah State at Wyoming

O At Arena-Auditorium, Laramie, Wyo.

Tipoff • Saturday, 4 p.m.

TV • ROOT Sports

Radio • 1280 AM

Records • USU 12-8, 2-6 MWC; Wyoming 13-7, 4-3

Series history • Wyoming leads 44-23

Last meeting • Dec. 31, 2008 at USU; USU 90, UW 85