Former Georgia Tech basketball player Matt Harpring will be inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night in Macon.
“It’s a big honor. It’s something that I never thought I’d get when I was in high school or college,” Harpring said about being inducted. “It’s something that goes along with the top things in my life that will never be forgotten and stuff that I’ll treasure for sure.”
Other inductees in the 2017 class are linebacker Keith Brooking (linebacker for Tech and the Falcons), golfer Laura Coble, tennis coach Manuel Diaz (University of Georgia), football and track athlete Willie Gault (Griffin High), football player Garrison Hearst (UGA, Lincoln Co. High), athletic leader/golf coach Liz Murphey (UGA), and football player Jeff Saturday (Shamrock High).
Harpring was a three-sport star at Marist School and was named Mr. Georgia Basketball in 1994. After receiving numerous college football offers, Harpring decided to play basketball for coach Bobby Cremins at Tech in 1994.
“It was Cremins and assistant coach Kevin Cantwell,” Harpring said about what made him choose Tech. “At first when he saw me play he didn’t think I was the Tech player that he’d want, but Cantwell was really like ‘we need to get this guy; he has a lot of potential.’ So, I sat down with Bobby and he agreed to give me an equal opportunity to compete for a starting job. I took his word for it, and I signed and started every game.”
Harpring flourished at Tech, and he joined Mark Price as the only Tech players to be named all-ACC for three years. His jersey No. 15 was retired by the school during the final home game of his senior season. He ended his career as the second leading scorer and the third leading rebounder in Tech history. He not only performed well on the court, but off the court as well. He was named Academic All-American twice.
“This Hall of Fame goes right up there with the Tech jersey retire,” Harpring said about getting his number retired at Tech. “When I was a player it wasn’t something that I thought about, but I look back now and say ‘wow that’s such a huge accomplishment.”
“But when you’re playing and when you’re involved and you’re going through seasons and you’re trying to make it to the NBA, it was seen as just a great accomplishment. But now that I’ve gotten older it’s something that I cherish a lot more than I did back then. For me as a dad it’s cool to bring my kids (to the arena) and they can see it, and that means a lot.”
Harpring went on to be selected by the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 1998 NBA draft. He was named to the 1998-99 NBA All-Rookie first team. Harpring played 11 years in the NBA and scored over 12,000 career points. His best season was with the Utah Jazz under coach Jerry Sloan. Harpring was named the team captain and achieved his career best average of 17.6 points per game in 2002-03, playing alongside Karl Malone and John Stockton.
Harpring is now a color analyst for the Jazz and runs numerous youth camps and youth initiatives within the state of Georgia.
When asked about his most memorable moment playing sports in Georgia, Harpring couldn’t give just one. Rather, he provided multiple moments.
“I had great high school sports memories from winning the championship in state for basketball,” Harpring said. “We went 32-0 and had a great team and a great coach. My Tech career was very cool and the jersey being retired. The standing ovation at the ACC tournament was something that I look back on and say ‘wow that was extremely cool’ and no other player has gotten it. Just something that I really appreciate.”
When it is all said and done, Harpring wants to be remembered for his work ethic.
“I’m a hard worker, and I was tough on the court,” Harpring said. “I played hard I gave everything that I had when I was on the court. And if people remember me for that in the sporting world, then I did what I wanted to do every night that I went out and played. I gave all my effort and everything I had.”