Missing season hit Harrow this week, but chance to make up for it at Madness

The whispers were surprising, the ones coming out of Lexington this summer indicating Ryan Harrow was more than holding his own in pickup games.

Josh Harrellson compared Harrow’s hops to John Wall’s. Darius Miller said Harrow was one the same level as the other talented newcomers.

We won’t know how true the whispers were until next season, as Harrow has to sit out this whole season after transferring from North Carolina State.

Which means he’s just going to go even bigger in Big Blue Madness, which, besides the Blue-White scrimmage in two weeks, is the only event he gets to play in front of fans.

“I think the guys know this is my one time to actually go out there and show my stuff,” Harrow said. “They’ll be looking out for me (Friday).”

Like, clearing out on defense to let him go for a wide-open dunk?

“Probably,” Harrow said with a laugh. “Letting me have fun and letting me do what I do best. Putting on a show, I guess.”

He’ll have plenty of people to do it for Friday. A sold-out Rupp Arena — including his family, who are coming in to see the Madness.

“I know they’ll be excited for all my dunks and stuff,” Harrow said.

There’s sure to be plenty of those, if Harrow’s YouTube highlights are any indication.

The fans get to see Harrow. But Harrow also gets to play with his teammates in a game-like atmosphere. It will be as much for him as it will be for them.

But it will be bittersweet.

Harrow’s already staring down the void he will face after these two public showcases. He’ll still be able to practice with the team, sure, but in the privacy of the Joe Craft Center. The rest of the time, he’ll be sitting on the bench.

That’s a long wait for someone who played a full year at N.C. State last season. Instead of bouncing back from a subpar year after being a highly ranked recruit, he’ll have to wait it out. Halfway through the year, he’ll get to watch as fellow transfer Twany Beckham becomes eligible to play in games.

He’s able to compensate for the missed time by telling himself he will be a better player from having a year to learn UK’s system.

But those benefits are a year away.

“When I first transferred, I said it’s not going to be a big deal. It will go by fast,” Harrow said. “But it just hit me this week that college basketball is about to start up and I won’t be able to play.”

He saw a tweet from a hometown friend who is going to play at East Carolina. The friend was counting down the days until he would be “living his dream,” Harrow said.

That was when it hit Harrow.

He won’t be playing this year.

Not a single minute.

“I’ve played college basketball already,” Harrow said, “but I was like, ‘dang, I’m not doing to be able to play this year. It was kind of tough. But you get over it.”

Getting a preliminary taste of UK basketball at Big Blue Madness will go a long way toward helping him get through the year.

Until the whispers become cheers.

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