Former Egg Harbor Township High School basketball player Khari Harley will see Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, for the first time today.

He plans to be there a long time.

The 6-foot-8 Harley committed to NCAA Division I Ohio on Wednesday and will receive a full athletic scholarship to play basketball for the Bobcats. Ohio was 24-10 this past winter in the Mid-Atlantic Conference.

“Ohio has a great basketball program,” Harley, an 18-year-old EHT resident, said. “They lost to North Carolina in overtime in a Sweet 16 game two years ago. They want great players who want to be great pros. It’s an academically sound school, but I chose them most of all because the program seemed like it was perfect for me.

“I’ll sign all the papers (today, Thursday) and I’ll be in class on Friday.”

Harley visited Division I New Jersey Institute of Technology and Division II schools American International and C.W. Post. He also considered going to a prep school, but decided against it.

Harley had talks on the phone with Ohio head coach Jim Christian and assistant Anthony Stewart. They saw film of him, and offered the scholarship.

“They found out about me late, and they really liked me,” Harley said. “It’s all happening quick. The offer came up late, and I’m rushing through the process. It took a really long time to find a school, and it was really stressful. I was hoping to have that done by the end of the high school season. But things happen for a reason.”

The most unusual thing about Harley’s high school career was that he was a 6-foot-1 guard as a freshman, grew to 6-4 as a sophomore, and to 6-7 as a junior. George McNally, his former coach at Egg Harbor Township, said that Harley is now nearly 6-9.

“I started out as a guard, and that makes me more versatile,” Harley said. “I still move like a guard. I don’t stay in the post all the time, and I love to shoot 3s. I don’t think I’ve lost anything as I started to grow. I can do all I did before. Once I got taller, I could work on new things and become more versatile.”

Harley was a two-year starter for the Eagles. He averaged 18.4 points a game this winter and was a Press second-team All-Star. Harley scored 32 points in a 75-68 loss to Atlantic City in a Cape-Atlantic League Tournament quarterfinal game.

He scored 18 points and was chosen the Most Valuable Player of the Dixie Howell Memorial Boys Classic at Prime Events All-Saturday on March 23 at Ocean City High School.

“Going to Ohio University will be perfect for Khari,” McNally said. “It’s a beautiful school and a great program. He’s a good student and a good kid, and one of the most talented kids I’ve ever coached. He needs to add a little muscle, and he will. I haven’t been this happy for a kid in a long time.”

Ohio went 14-2 last year in the MAC, and lost to rival University of Akron 65-46 in the second round of the conference tournament. The Bobcats have made 13 NCAA tournament appearances in their history, but went to the NIT this winter, losing to the University of Denver 61-57 in the first round.

“The coach will be ecstatic about getting Khari, especially since it was so late,” McNally said. “He can play everywhere, from the point to the post. He’s a good shooter inside and outside, and he can shoot the 3. He should have a real nice career there.”

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Started at The Press in 1993 as an Ocean County reporter. Moved to the copy desk in 1994 until taking over as editor of At The Shore in 1995. Became deputy sports editor in 2004 and was promoted to sports editor in 2007.