Two things kept De’Vion Harmon busy inside the 2021 NCAA Tournament bubble: walks in the hotel hallways and a basketball.
The sophomore guard’s leisurely strolls were to keep him moving around, as he quarantined inside his limited-space hotel room in Indianapolis from March 15-22, after testing positive for COVID-19 upon arrival. The ball’s purpose was for Harmon to maintain the feel of it, in case Oklahoma upset No. 1-seeded Gonzaga in the second round. He would’ve been able to play in the Sweet 16 after he completed isolation.
Instead, the Sooners lost to Gonzaga, 87-71, but Harmon’s minimum 10-day quarantine hadn’t been completed. Harmon was driven back to Norman from Indianapolis on March 22 — close to 11 hours — with a bus driver and a member of the team training staff. He wasn’t allowed to step off the bus, even for a simple gas station break, due to his condition.
Harmon’s last few weeks have been unusual to say the least. He missed out on the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year because of coronavirus; his coach, Lon Kruger, retired on March 25. Six players and assistant coach Carlin Hartman left the team and he declared for the NBA Draft.
“It’s been a crazy week,” Harmon told The Daily on Wednesday. “It’s been a lot, but it’s always good to see people doing things for them.”
Harmon averaged 12.9 points per game this season, up from 7.4 as a freshman. He was named an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, and scored in double-figures in 13 of Oklahoma’s final 15 games.
The former four-star and top-50 ranked recruit, per Rivals, said the plan was always to declare for the draft when he put together a solid season, and Kruger’s retirement didn’t play a part in his choice.
“I kind of knew I was going to make the decision,” Harmon said. “Me and Coach Kruger, we talked about it and he’s pretty excited for me. He told me to go get it and that he’s always just a phone call away. He was always very supportive of my decision and he told me that ‘I know you can do this.’”
All-Big 12 First Team guard Austin Reaves also declared for the NBA draft on March 31, with fellow seniors Alondes Williams and Brady Manek yet to announce if they’ll exercise their extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19. Guard Trey Phipps and forwards Anyang Garang and Victor Iwuakor entered the transfer portal after Kruger’s retirement.
Next for Harmon, is moving back to Denton, Texas to train for the draft, although he said he will finish out his semester of school online. Harmon starts training next week.
Harmon spent much of his time last summer at SandersFit Performance Center in Dallas, and credited his rapid improvement to the work he did there. Harmon said he texted his trainer, A.J. Billings, quickly after declaring for the draft so he could prepare for training.
SandersFit has worked with NBA players like New York Knicks forward Julius Randle and is currently training potential No.1 overall pick Cade Cunningham. The gym helped produce Harmon’s close friends R.J. Hampton and Tyrese Maxey, who were both first-round NBA draft picks in 2020.
“They helped me with the way they got my body going,” Harmon said. “I’m ready to get back at it and really succeed and train and work and be better than I was.”
Although Harmon mentioned he received “a ton of love” on social media after declaring for the draft, he isn’t projected to be drafted according to ESPN.
Harmon has the option to hire an agent and still return to college if he isn’t drafted. He added he hasn’t considered if he would return to OU or transfer to another school if he isn’t selected.
“He’s leaving all his options open to return back to college if the evaluations don’t turn out the way he’s hoping,” Deon Harmon, De’Vion’s father, told The Daily on March 26.
Harmon said if it comes down to deciding where to play college basketball next season, he has no doubt OU Athletics Director Joe Castiglione will hire a “great coach.” However, Harmon isn’t worried about doubts surrounding his professional prospects.
“As far as I’m concerned, my concern is to get better every day, train and work,” Harmon said. “And when it’s time to get in the gym in front of these scouts, I’ll do what I’ve always done.
“Bet on myself and show them who De’Vion Harmon really is.”