MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Eron Harris insists he has nothing really to prove when he returns to his home state today.
Well, OK, he doesn't exactly insist that. In truth, he won't say much at all about it.
"I don't want to say the wrong thing,'' said Harris, who even as a college freshman has already learned that words aren't always perceived as they are spoken.
Still, West Virginia's young and suddenly emerging shooting guard admits that this is a big day for him.
"My family and friends and everyone who will be there, they know,'' Harris said. "They know how I feel.''
Harris will be back in Indiana today when the Mountaineers face Purdue. The game is in West Lafayette, not far from Indianapolis, where Harris lives and played his high school basketball.
That Harris wasn't coveted by Purdue or Indiana, of course, is no big deal. There are a lot of basketball players in Indiana and they can't all play for the Hoosiers or the Boilermakers or Notre Dame.
One thing is sure, though. When Harris goes back today, he will see plenty of familiar faces, both on and off the court.
"It's big to me. I get to go back to my state and everybody I know is going to be there,'' Harris said. "I feel comfortable playing in front of my people.
"And there are guys at Purdue that I've played with since second grade. It's going to be like a high school game.''
Actually, there are four players on the Purdue roster with and against whom Harris has played most of his life, either in school or summer ball. All four are in Purdue's projected starting lineup today.
Starting freshman point guard Ronnie Johnson and his brother, junior Terone Johnson, are both from Indianapolis. Freshman shooting guard Rapheal Davis is from Fort Wayne, and 7-foot freshman center A.J. Hammons is from Gary.
"I grew up with those guys,'' Harris said. "It'll be fun.''
The question, though, is how much Harris will be able to prove. He's emerged as one of West Virginia's best players in recent games and earned his first start Wednesday at Iowa State, but sometimes playing in front of a home crowd doesn't exactly bring out the best in players.
"I don't know,'' coach Bob Huggins said of how Harris might react to playing in front of friends and family. "Some guys kind of relish that and other guys put too much pressure on themselves.''
Huggins recalled the case of Darnell Burton, one of his players at Cincinnati. The Bearcats were playing in the NCAA tournament in Lexington, Ky., one March.