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Provo • BYU's basketball team was planning to be without sophomore guard Damarcus Harrison for the next couple of years, but now the separation is probably going to be permanent.
Harrison confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune via telephone from his home in Greenwood, S.C., that he will transfer to Clemson of the Atlantic Coast Conference for the 2012-13 season. Harrison, 20, said he will likely apply to the NCAA for a waiver to be immediately eligible to play for the Tigers, but declined to specify the basis of his appeal.
Generally, athletes have to sit out a year when they transfer from one Division I school to another.
Harrison, a 6-foot-3 guard, said he planned on leaving on a two-year church mission this summer, but his LDS Church bishop in South Carolina won't submit the paperwork until January. He said when his mission plans were delayed, he wanted to return to BYU for another year, but his scholarship had already been given to another player.
"I've got nothing against BYU," he said. "I enjoyed my time at BYU."
Asked if there's a chance he will try to go back to BYU after his mission, he chuckled and said, "I don't know. That's a long, long time away. A lot could happen between now and then."
For now, he said, he's committed to enrolling at Clemson this fall and either redshirt or play, depending on the NCAA's decision.
"We appreciate the hard work and dedication Damarcus gave to our program this past season," BYU coach Dave Rose said in a school news release. "Damarcus is great young man from a wonderful family. We wish them the very best with this new opportunity."
Clemson was one of the school's that offered Harrison a scholarship out of high school, along with South Carolina, Charleston, Marquette, and others. BYU coaches logged thousands and thousands of miles of air travel recruiting the prep phenom, and Rose once said the staff probably spent more time trying to lure Harrison to Provo than any other player in his tenure.Harrison appeared in 30 games for BYU as a freshman, averaging 3.2 points and 1.0 rebounds a game. He averaged just 8.8 minutes a game, and went through several stretches where he never got off the bench.
Oddly, his best game for BYU was his second-to-last, when he scored a career-high 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting in the 78-72 comeback win over Iona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Harrison will be much closer to home; he grew up in Greenwood, S.C., before playing his last two years of high school basketball at Christ School in North Carolina.
"I wanted to be closer to home. Clemson is in my home [LDS] stake and not too far away," he said.