NCAA denies NMSU’s Harris sixth year of eligibility


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KTSM) – AJ Harris will not be suiting up for the New Mexico State men’s basketball team in 2020-21. The Aggies learned on Thursday the NCAA has denied Harris’ request for a sixth year of eligibility.

“We are disappointed in the denial of AJ Harris’ waiver by the NCAA,” said NMSU head coach Chris Jans. “Unfortunately, with this decision, we have now exhausted any and all possibilities for AJ to play another year of college basketball.”

As a result of two separate injuries suffered through the course of the 2019-20 season, Harris sat out all but three of the Aggies’ 31 games. A hand injury kept him out of NMSU’s first 13 games of the season, but upon returning to the lineup and making his season debut in a win over Mississippi State in Jackson, Miss., on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. In 17 minutes, Harris netted three points and dished out a pair of assists. 

Harris’ final game as an Aggie came on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in NMSU’s 2019-20 WAC opener at California Baptist. In just eight minutes, he scored nine points, recorded two assists and three steals, but at the end of the first half, Harris suffered a foot injury which kept him sidelined for the remainder of the season.

Harris will now turn his attention to beginning his professional career.

“We will continue to support AJ in his professional basketball pursuits,” said Jans. “During his time in Las Cruces, AJ helped us win at a high level, accomplish many of our goals and at the end he earned his degree which will continue to open doors for him in the future.”

Harris’ career at NMSU started in the 2017-18 season where he helped the Aggies win their first of three consecutive WAC regular season titles. That year, Harris earned WAC All-Newcomer Team honors after averaging 9.4 points, 2.9 assists and 1.9 rebounds per game. With Harris on their side, the Aggies went 28-6 and won the WAC Tournament en route to their 21st NCAA Tournament appearance. 

The following season, Harris collected All-WAC Second Team and WAC All-Defensive Team accolades after guiding the Aggies to WAC regular season and tournament titles once again. Those titles yielded another NCAA Tournament appearance where NMSU came within one point of knocking off eventual Final Four participant Auburn.

Harris’ career started at Ohio State as a freshman in 2015-16 and due to NCAA transfer rules, he had to sit out the 2016-17 season upon arriving at NMSU. 

Statement from AJ Harris
The news from the NCAA regarding my sixth-year waiver wasn’t what I wanted to hear and I’m disappointed to say my time in an Aggie uniform has officially come to an end. 

Last season definitely wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but nothing can take away from the memories I’ve made in Las Cruces as part of one of the best teams in the nation. New Mexico State is a special place because of our basketball program and the fans that love us. We feed off your passion and are proud to say you’re the best fans in the nation.

Once an Aggie, always an Aggie! Much love.

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