Editor’s note: This is the third of three stories profiling the newest inductees into the Utah State Athletics Hall of Fame.
It’s going to be a family affair of sorts for two Utah State Athletics Hall of Fame inductees this Friday night.
When the 15th class is inducted, two of the newest members will be quite familiar with one another. One was a coach, while the other played for him on the Aggie men’s basketball team. The newest class will be officially inducted on Friday at the Riverwoods Conference Center. The eight inductees will also be introduced Thursday at the Utah State-Idaho State football game.
If one had to use just one word to describe this inductee, it would have to be consistent.
The Smithfield native who now resides in Reno, Nevada, would agree of the assessment. His Aggie basketball career is definitely an example.
His name continues to be all over the record books more than 10 years after he played. Harris still holds the school record for career field goal percentage at 64.1 percent. In fact, he ranks fifth in career blocks (90), sixth in games played (126), seventh in double-figure scoring games, eighth in total minutes (3,422) and field goals made (588), 10th in rebounds (722) and 12th in points (1,475).
“People bring that (records) up,” Harris said. “I still hold the field goal record and hopefully that will stand for a while. I know Tai Wesley tried to beat it. I was never the flashiest or the highest scorer. I just tried to be consistent.”
Harris scored 1,475 points, grabbed 722 rebounds, had 220 assists, came up with 95 steal and blocked 90 shots during his four years at USU. He is the only player in school history to finish with career totals of more than 1,300 points, 600 rebounds, 200 assists and 90 blocks.
The forward also set a USU single season field goal percentage record and led the nation as a sophomore, shooting 67.7 percent. He was the first Aggie to be named first-team all-Big West as a sophomore, also picking up the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award. He made the Big West All-Freshman Team. Harris also made the All-WAC first team as a junior and senior.
The team also had plenty of success during Harris’ time at USU. The Aggies went 96-30, including a home record of 55-6.
USU made it to the postseason all four years he played, including three trips to the Big Dance. Harris was the first Aggie to play in three NCAA Tournaments.
“The experience for a chance to play in the Spectrum are some of my best memories,” Harris said. “The fans are great at the Spectrum. … The end goal of the team was to make the NCAA Tournament, so to make three was a highlight for me.”
Now he is going into the USU Hall of Fame.
“I was a little surprised when I got the call,” Harris said. “I didn’t realize it’s been that long (since playing). I was pleasantly surprised and very honored. It’s neat and to be going in with coach Morrill is very exciting.”
Harris will also join former teammate and current USU assistant coach Spencer Nelson, who was inducted two years ago. He praised Morrill for making him the player he became.
“I never really put any real thought into being in the Hall of Fame,” Harris said. “Growing up here and know that Utah State is a huge part of the community, this will be a special moment for my family. It’s nice to be recognized.”
There will be a lot of family and friends at the induction for Harris, including his wife Kelly, two daughters and young son that was recently born.
He spent two seasons playing professionally in Germany following his days at USU. He is now a real estate broker in Reno and follows the Aggies as much as he can.
Like Harris, Morrill didn’t expect to be inducted just yet. It’s only been two years since he retired as the winningest basketball coach in school history.
“I really didn’t think I would go in this soon after my career was over,” Morrill said. “I’m grateful that I get to go in at all and while I’m still alive and feeling good. It might have been hard to see after I passed. It might have been warm where I was watching it from.”
Morrill feels at peace with his life and a lot less stressed after spending 40 years in college coaching, the last 17 as the head coach of the Aggies. He exercises five days a week to keep some weight off that he has dropped, and travels a lot.
“We are home four or five days and I get the itch to go,” Morrill quipped. “Travel is great without the responsibility of being the head coach of a basketball team.”
He is enjoying life and continues to live in Logan with his wife Vicki. They had talked about moving closer to some of their children and grandchildren in Colorado, but that hasn’t happened.
“We never bought a place in Colorado,” Morrill said. “Two years later and we are still in Logan. Logan is hard to leave.”
Aggie fans loved “Stewww.” He guided USU to 14 straight seasons of at least 21 wins and 13 straight postseason appearances. Prior to that, the longest streak was three.
USU won seven conference championships under Morrill, including four straight in the WAC (2008-2011), and six conference postseason titles. He has 12 of the top 13 seasons in school history in terms of wins. Twice the Aggies won 30 games in a season.
Morrill was named conference Coach of the Year five times and in 2011 was named the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year by CollegeInsider.com. During his 17 years, the Aggies won 72 percent of their games, including a 248-32 record in the Spectrum. He was 46-20 against in-state schools.
With all those accomplishments, it’s hard to single out any one favorite. He still has a hard time believing he spent 17 years at the Aggie helm and said he “never imagined that happening.”
“I was very fortunate to have the career I had at Utah State,” Morrill said. “The kids are what is special, all the players. We had good, tough and funny times together. It’s fun for me to see them and see how they are doing. I miss the people more than anything after 40 years of coaching.”
He spent time at Montana and Colorado State as a head coach before ending his career at USU. He continues to keep in touch with the current staff and attends all home games when he is in town, sitting right behind the Aggie bench.
He is happy to enter the Hall of Fame with Harris and another former Aggie men’s basketball coach in Dutch Belnap.
“It’s going to be fun for me to be with Dutch and Nate,” Morrill said. “I’m pleased for Dutch, and Nate played for me.. ... Being a kid that grew up in Utah and followed coaches like Dutch, LaDell (Anderson) and Rod (Tueller), they were heroes to me. To be put in along side them is a special thing. I’m very grateful.”
A lot of his family and many friends are planning on being at the event.