Former Georgia standout Janet Harris has been voted into the Women‚Äôs Basketball Hall of Fame, the organization announced Saturday.
Harris was a three-time All-American for the Lady Bulldogs (1982, 84, 85) and was the first player in NCAA women‚Äôs basketball history to record 2,500 points and 1,250 rebounds. Through her career she averaged a double-double of 20.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
‚ÄúWhen I got the call and heard, I couldn‚Äôt believe it,‚Äù Harris said in a news release. ‚ÄúI was just in shock. I cried. This has been a long time coming. I don‚Äôt talk about my basketball career that much. I‚Äôve worked at FedEx Ground for 15 years and not too many people there have any idea. The first person I told was my brother, Nate, and he was excited. When I told my older sister, Elizabeth, she said, ‚ÄòA little asthmatic girl from the west side of Chicago finally got the call.‚Äô‚Äù
Harris was the nation‚Äôs top-rated prospect out of Chicago‚Äôs John Marshall High School when she signed with a relatively unknown University of Georgia program. She arrived in Athens in the fall of 1981, the same season that women‚Äôs intercollegiate athletics came under the auspices of the NCAA.
Nearly three decades later, she still ranks No. 34 in career points (2,641) and No. 18 in rebounds (1,398) among the NCAA‚Äôs career leaders.
‚ÄúJanet Harris was our first great player and she made it cool for other great players to come to Georgia,‚Äù Georgia coach Andy Landers said in a news release. ‚ÄúPeople in Chicago who followed women‚Äôs basketball and have followed basketball ‚Äî the old coaches and the media ‚Äî will still tell you that Janet Harris was the best player to ever play in Chicago. When Janet got to Georgia, Janet was better than our basketball team. Janet Harris was the first great power player under the NCAA regime and one of the greatest power players of all time. Her numbers are numbers that, 30 years later, only a handful of players can say they have compiled.‚Äù
With Harris in the lineup, the Lady Bulldogs reached their first NCAA Tournament in 1982. In 1983, Georgia won both its first SEC Championship and advanced the NCAA FInal Four for the first time. After winning a second SEC title in 1984, the Lady Bulldogs returned to the 1985 Final Four and finished as NCAA runner-up during Harris‚Äô senior season.
Individually, Harris became just the third freshman to earn Kodak All-America honors and went on to become a three-time Kodak All-American. She also was the first player in league history to be named first-team All-SEC four times.
Harris went on to have an equally successful professional career in Europe and Japan. All told, she played 14 seasons overseas ‚Äì six in Italy; two each in Japan, Spain and Israel; and one in both Greece and Turkey.
Harris will be the Lady Bulldogs‚Äô fourth representative in the Women‚Äôs Basketball Hall of Fame. Katrina McClain was inducted in 2006, followed by Landers in 2007 and Teresa Edwards in 2008.
Other inductees for the Class of 2015 will include Janeth Arcain (WNBA, Brazilian Olympic team), Kurt Budke (coached at Oklahoma State and Louisiana Tech, among others), Gail Goestenkors (coached Duke to 13 NCAA tournament appearances), Lisa Leslie (star at Southern Cal and in WNBA, led U.S. Olympic team to four gold medals) and Brad Smith (decorated Oregon high school coach).
They will formally be inducted during a ceremony on June 13 at the Women‚Äôs Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.