Players, colleagues remember Coach Harris

Longtime leader of boys' basketball program, who died of cancer last weekend, was 'Ocean View High School, period.'

October 26, 2011|By Mike Sciacca

Jim Harris, the face of Ocean View boys' basketball and the man who gave the program its identity, died Sunday night after a struggle with kidney cancer. The only boys' basketball coach in the school's history was 67.

Harris' coaching career at Ocean View spanned 33 years. During that time, his teams won 19 league championships and three CIF Southern Section titles. He also coached the Ocean View girls' varsity program, which is now headed by his daughter, Kim Morris.

His son, Jimmy, was an All-CIF player for his father and later an assistant coach. He has been the varsity boys' co-head coach along with his father the past few years.

"Coach Harris is Ocean View basketball, even Ocean View High School, period," Seahawks Athletic Director Tim Walsh said Monday. "He created the basketball program, which today is looked at by so many as one of the best around. There was so much love around in whatever he did, whether it be basketball or at this school."


Harris' contributions stretched beyond the hardwood, Walsh and current Ocean View varsity players Conor Clifford and Josh Mishler said.

"He planted the palm trees that line the school along Warner Avenue," recalled Walsh, a 1994 Ocean View graduate who played for Harris for one year, was in the program for four years and said he attended youth basketball camps run by Harris. "He always wanted to help do things for this school in any way that he could.

"We're all hurting here now. It's been a real tough few weeks and a tough day [Monday]. He's had a huge impact on this school, and his presence will always be here."

Clifford, a three-year varsity player, said Harris taught him life lessons.

"He was like a father to me," said the all-league center, whose voice cracked before he broke down. "He basically taught me everything I know, all my values and such. I've known him since my brother (Takeshi Clifford) played for him.

"I'm just going to miss him not being around. I'd see him every morning, and he always asked me how I was and how my day was going. It's going to be tough not seeing him."

Mishler, a junior entering his second year as a guard on varsity, echoed Clifford's sentiments.

"He is one of my biggest inspirations," he said. "He was always there for me. When I was younger, he'd always come up to me and say, 'Hello,' and that has stayed with me.

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