Brooks-Harris, Dillon use redshirt season to improve on, off court


Richard Crank

Marshall guard Jeremy Dillon (5) celebrates making a half-court shot at Herd Madness in October. Dillon is sitting out this season as a redshirt.

Not everyone can score 1,000 points or more during their high school basketball career and expect to receive an NCAA Division I scholarship to a top university. Freshmen Cam Brooks-Harris and Jeremy Dillon achieved this dream and found their fate at Marshall University under one of the school’s most notable head coaches, Dan D’Antoni.

However, it was unknown beforehand that D’Antoni would sit both players out for one year known as a redshirt season.

“We had no idea,” Brooks-Harris said. “That was not the plan. We came in expecting to play. (The coaches) came to us with the idea of redshirting and took it
from there.”

The players were redshirted in order for them to get more playing time while they are at Marshall, D’Antoni said.

“We’re going to lose our backcourt, which is three West Virginia guards who have been a big part of bringing this program fully to the level we’ve gotten it to,” D’Antoni said. “Which was the championship and first time ever victory in the NCAA (Tournament).”

Brooks-Harris is a 6-foot-7 forward from Zanesville, Ohio. At Lakewood High School, located in Hebron, Ohio, he participated in football, basketball, and baseball. However, he transferred to Zanesville High School and began to focus on basketball. During his time at Zanesville, he averaged more than 20 points per game. Between Lakewood and Zanesville, he scored over 1,000 points in basketball, was the unanimous 2018 Player of the Year in the East Central Ohio League and a first-team All-Ohioan by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association.

“It’s different,” Brooks-Harris said. “Being with the team practicing everyday like you’re working towards something and normally you’re working towards the next game. Now we’re just working towards next year.”

Dillon is 6-foot-5 guard from Mingo, West Virginia, where he scored over 1,300 points in basketball. Dillon was a two-sport athlete at Mingo Central High School, playing as the quarterback position for the football team and a guard for the basketball team. Dillon led the Mingo Central Miners to an undefeated season and its first state football championship in 2016. He has earned honors for being the West Virginia High School Football Player of the Year, known as the Kennedy Award. Dillon earned all-state honors for both sports.

 “It’s been good,” Dillon said. “It’s been a slow process. We definitely had to trust the process by sitting out this year. I think it’s going to pay off for us years to come.”

Being stuck in the redshirt situation has brought Brooks-Harris and Dillon closer as friends. They were set up to be freshman roommates together at Marshall. 

“(Dillon) is my best friend,” Brooks-Harris said. “He is my brother. I met him on my official visit. I had no clue we were going to be roommates. I love him and I don’t do anything without
this kid.”

During their redshirt season, Brooks-Harris and Dillon have spent a lot of extra hours inside the Cam Henderson Center working on skills and how to better themselves as basketball players. The two redshirt players practice together with the team but come into the Henderson Center on their own time to shoot around and continue to improve basketball skills.

“A lot of it has got to do with shooting,” Dillon said. “It’s kind of focusing more on working on what we’re good at.”

Prior to every home basketball game, Brooks-Harris and Dillon can be found on the court with assistant coach Mark Cline, graduate assistants Milan Mijovic and Patrick Herlihy and other student managers. This is known as the “redshirt workout.”

“We feel like with that year of redshirt and the way they’ve worked and how hard they’ve worked, that our program isn’t going to step back very far,” D’Antoni said. “I think those kids feel the winning atmosphere that the other group
has created.”

It takes effort to be the best. It takes determination to strive for greatness. It takes failures to become successful. It takes hard work for it to pay off. And it takes role models to inspire.

The senior class, consisting of Jon Elmore, C.J. Burks and Rondale Watson, are the teammates that are highly looked upon because they’ve been in their shoes, winning the conference tournament to making it to the NCAA and leading the team, said Brooks-Harris and Dillon. 

Brooks-Harris and Dillon are joined by Andrew Taylor, a 6-foot-2 guard from Corbin, Kentucky, who transferred to Marshall from Furman University. D’Antoni decided to redshirt Taylor as well. 

As Brooks-Harris’ and Dillon’s redshirt season begins to wind down with the conference tournament coming up for the Herd and its future, basketball never stops. Basketball will always be the focus, especially with the upcoming season and new leaders emerge as the three redshirts will no longer be redshirts together but play as a team of brothers that hold each other up on the court for the Marshall Thundering Herd. 

“It’s going to be a fun year. Stay tuned,” Brooks- Harris and Dillon both said. 

Taylor Huddleston can be contacted at [email protected].