Finishing off his four-year career in the 2011-12 season with 1,512 points, Harris Wichard earned the rank of fifth all-time scorer in Hawk’s basketball history.
Wichard scored 450 points this season alone, averaged 17.3 points per game and led the team with 76 assists. Wichard played a crucial role in the Hawk’s access to the SUNYAC Men’s Basketball Championship for their third consecutive season.
Despite standing at only six feet tall, Wichard proved to be a dominant contender on the court and boards. Wichard stood as a lead scorer for the Hawks and landed eighth on the all-time rebounding charts. Wichard’s play this season earned him a spot on the All-SUNYAC Men’s Basketball Third Team.
Wichard said he and his teammates fought to make a name for New Paltz in the SUNYAC and to change the notion that the Hawks could be used as a “doormat” for opposing teams.
“We’re taking more pride in the program now,” he said. “Don’t expect an easy game walking into the Hawk Center anymore.”
The Hawks played with only nine players for most of the season, allowing team members to see more playing time than previous years. High endurance and vigor kept Wichard on the court longer than any other Hawk this season, leading the team in time played with an average 35.9 minutes per game.
“My durability was a great factor,” he said. “I take pride in being able to play longer than my opponent.”
Along with being a leader for the team statistically, Wichard aimed to raise his teammates’ charisma and set an example for others through his own hard work and determination. To fulfill his greatest potential as a basketball player is his goal, he said.
“He’s the hardest working player, and the most talented player that I’ve probably ever played with,” third-year co-captain and forward Matt Devine said.
Devine led the league in scoring with 21.5 points per game (560 total) and was chosen for the SUNYAC Men’s Basketball Second Team. He said the team is looking forward to a strong season next year, but Wichard is going to be hard to replace.
A fourth-year public communications major, Wichard said it was difficult balancing an extracurricular activity as strenuous as basketball while trying to maintain a solid grade point average. A player who can maintain a high GPA and remain a dominant athlete is unique, he said.
“A lot of people forget it, but the reason you’re here is academic,” Wichard said. “You don’t want to overlook that.”
Despite the end of the Hawks’ 2011-12 season, Wichard is still training with no intentions of leaving basketball. Following graduation, he plans to immediately pursue his basketball career playing professionally overseas.
After graduation, Wichard said his teammates will be what he’ll miss the most. He said the hardest thing to let go of is the people involved.
“Basketball has introduced me to so much and so many phenomenal people,” Wichard said. “It’s been more than a game to me. It’s been a dream come true.”