Forward Alandise Harris brings big athletic potential as he embarks on a pro career.

Recently signed by the Iwate Big Bulls, the 198-cm power forward is coming off his senior season at the University of Arkansas that included the team’s Defensive Player of the Year honor.

The 24-year-old Harris also worked out at tight end for the Baltimore Ravens during the team’s local prospect day in April before the 2015 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Harris didn’t play college football.

For a team rebuilding after the three-season era with Dai Oketani at the helm that included its first trip to the Final Four in May, Iwate will give Harris an opportunity to play a major role under new bench boss Geoffrey Katsuhisa.

He could become a breakout star for the Big Bulls.

Harris was a three-time all-state selection while at Little Rock Central High School. As a high school senior, he contributed 20.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.7 blocks a game.

He played his first two college seasons at the University of Houston (2010-12), transferred to Arkansas, then sat out a year due to NCAA rules.

Harris received a bachelor’s degree in sociology in May 2014, then played his final collegiate basketball season. Last season, he started 26 of 35 games for the Razorbacks, averaging 7.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 blocks.

In an interview with CBS Sports in February, Harris summed up the Razorbacks’ style of play this way: “We try to get out there defensively, block shots, rebound and run and get easy buckets.”

Before his senior season, Harris had made two plays — one for Houston, one for Arkansas — featured on the popular top 10-highlights segment on ESPN “SportsCenter,” according to the Razorbacks’ website.

Former bj-league standouts Nick Davis (Niigata Albirex BB, Tokyo Apache) and Dionisio Gomez (Shiga Lakestars) established a strong reputation for Arkansas post players in Japan. And now, as the bj-league prepares for its final campaign before the launch of the three-division Japan Professional Basketball League (JPBL), a merger with the NBL and NBDL, in the fall of 2016, Harris has an opportunity to become one of the circuit’s new stars in the final chapter of this era.

On Thursday, the Big Bulls announced the signing of forward James Siakam, a native of Cameroon.

The 23-year-old Siakam attended Vanderbilt University.

His player bio page on the Commodores’ website includes this snippet, a piece of advice to the youth: “Work hard for whatever you want because nothing is free. Stay humble, and above all, put God first in any of your endeavors.”

Before enrolling at Vandy, Siakam went to Brehm Prep, a boarding school, in Carbondale, Illinios, where he averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game in his final prep season.

In a 2013 interview with vucommodores.com, Siakam commented on his athletic upbringing.

“I still think that I’m actually a better soccer player,” Siakam told the website. “But the opportunities weren’t as big as coming to the U.S. to play basketball, so I had to give it up.”

Still without a boss: Since the departure of head coaches Motofumi Aoki and Yukinori Suzuki after last season wrapped, the Tokyo Cinq Reves and Oita Ehime HeatDevils, respectively, still have not hired replacements.

Most coaching vacancies were filled in June.

On the move: Veteran point guard Naoto Takushi has joined the Shimane Susanoo Magic, the team has announced.

Takushi, who turns 34 in October, suited up for the HeatDevils last season. It was his second stint with the club.

A former Aisin SeaHorses player during the team’s JBL days, Takushi, a two-time Best Five selection (2007-08, 2008-09), has also competed for the Ryukyu Golden Kings, Kyoto Hannaryz, Niigata, Iwate and Osaka Evessa since ’07.

Feedback: edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp

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