Harry Froling Q&A with Reece Kelley Graham of the SMU Daily Campus


Photo by Brian Georgeson

Harry Froling sat on the bench during Marquette’s game against Seton Hall Wednesday.

Last night Marquette landed a much-needed man for next season as SMU transfer Harry Froling announced Marquette as his next destination. Froling, a 6-foot-11 Australian, played 10 games for the Mustangs before leaving the program as a freshman.

I talked to Reece Kelley Graham, a sports writer at the SMU Daily Campus, to get some insight on Marquette’s newest big man and what fans should expect from him.

Jack Goods: How would you describe Harry Froling’s game?

Reece Kelley Graham: He’s a very interesting player in that Harry Froling, in my personal opinion, he’s the quintessential pick-and-pop big guy. He has an abnormal amount of finesse skills for the position he plays and for his use. He doesn’t have the size of pure center or a power forward. He’s playing a little bit in the middle there. He’s not the kind of big that’s going to put his back to the basket and take a guy on. He’s definitely more of the face-up big who is going to use crafty footwork, spin moves on the baseline, hook shots to really go face-up with a player instead of trying to jam it home like a typical player of his size.

JG: He’s listed as a forward, but at Marquette he’ll need to play center. Is he suited for the position?

RKG: If you know anything about SMU’s roster is that we’re playing with a very short roster now. Now that Harry Froling has transferred, the tallest player on SMU’s roster is 6-foot-8. Luckily for the Mustangs, they supplement their lack of height in the big man positions with length on the perimeter. We have very tall, long guards.

The sense that I got when Harry was here was that with someone of his size, the only player with that size on the roster, he was very much having to adapt to everyone playing around him. You have four long, tall guards on the floor with him who are driving the ball and shooting the ball and basically doing everything for the team. Then you have Harry Froling, who is the rock under the basket who doesn’t know how to play like a rock. By rock, I mean sizable player who knows how to jam the ball.

One of the things that Harry Froling needs to do to improve his game, especially if he’s going to be playing overseas or here in America, he needs to work on his physicality. He’s got to work on his athleticism. When Draft Express did their profile on him early in 2016 he was listed at 6-foot-11 with shoes on, 260 lbs.

For the amount of finesse skill he has on offense, I know that many people at SMU, and this isn’t a direct quote, considered Froling a defensive liability for a couple reasons. One, like I mentioned, his athleticism. He could definitely stand to lose 15, 20, 25 pounds, largely because he really is stuck in between that hybrid of a four and a five. He really needs to work on trimming down, becoming more athletic, becoming more agile, really improving his lateral explosiveness. I saw Harry in a few games this year where the player that he’s defending, he loses track of him on the defensive end of the floor because he can’t keep up with him.

One of the things I noticed about both Tom Wilson and Harry Froling was that they seemed to be playing all of their minutes on the floor in slow motion in comparison to not only their opponent but the SMU players that were playing around them. I overestimated their ability to adapt to the American speed of basketball before I actually got to see them in the games. I definitely think that’s something Harry will need to improve on.

When you combine those two factors, it’s really hard to fit Harry Froling into the puzzle. I think the offensive tools I mentioned, the great footwork, the great passing ability, the finesse shots, also his 3-point shooting ability, I think Harry has a lot of great tools that are really going to suit him well and make him a dynamic offensive force once he learns how to play at the pace that is demanded of him in America.

JG: I was actually going to specifically ask you about his defense, because that’s a spot Marquette big men have struggled with. It seems pretty obvious based on what you’ve said so far that Froling is no saving grace in that category.

RKG: I think once he improves on his athleticism, I think he has the potential to possibly be a good defender in the area of the restrictive arc, definitely in the paint but probably not any further outside than that.

In his current state, he definitely doesn’t have the lateral explosiveness to get in front of anybody right now. He doesn’t block a lot of shots. His hands, at least on the offensive end are pretty good. On the defensive end he doesn’t bring down a lot of rebounds in comparison to other bigs of his size. There were players on SMU’s roster who were three or four inches smaller than him that were outrebounding him.

I think he has the potential to be a great asset on offense and I think he has the potential to perform adequately on defense.

JG: When he arrived at SMU, were people expecting him to play a major role?

RKG: When he was originally recruited, there was definitely a lot of hype for him, not only from the coaches but from SMU fans. He was definitely the best recruit in our class. I’m not going to say we really had any expectations for him as a freshman in terms of coming in and playing a specific role, especially because we already had two very skilled big men coming in that unfortunately never signed.

Once Harry Froling got here, I think people in those first 10 games definitely saw the promise. They saw the potential there, but I wasn’t alone in seeing that he was playing underspeed, wasn’t rebounding the ball the way we thought he would.

JG: When he left, were people frustrated?

RKG: I don’t think that people were upset that he was only getting 15 minutes per game. The player coming in was much more of a raw product that we thought he was going to be. He’s needed more development than we expected. When he was getting 10 to 15 minutes per game, at least from the fans perspective and other people that cover the team like I do, we just accepted that that was just going to be the status quo because he wasn’t playing at the level that we were going to be able to use him in a significant role.

When he decided to transfer, it kind of came out of nowhere, especially because in the two or three games before we had played some weaker opponents. He did have more of a significant role in those games.

There were some SMU fans that were frustrated simply because of the fact that when you’re a freshman and you’re such a raw talent, you can’t expect to play much more than that. SMU’s current seniors Ben Moore and Sterling Brown, they’ve ended up being two of the best glue guys on the country and two of the best players in our conference. They were almost playing 10, 15, 20 minutes a game when they were freshmen. That’s the culture Froling was coming into and we all thought that he was going to be able to expect that.

That didn’t end up being true at all. Harry said in his official statement that was put out by he and the school that he hoped that he would be able to play a much more significant role than how he was being utilized. I think a lot of SMU fans were confused by that.

JG: Some people, myself included, would think there’s a good chance that he’d start next year for conference play. Do you think that that’s ridiculous?

RKG: I think this year that he’s going to have to take off due to transfer rules is going to be really beneficial to him because now that he’s just had a brief 10-game taste of what it’s like to play basketball in America, he now knows the standards that he is going to have to live up to here as a player with aspirations of going to the NBA.

If he becomes more athletic, becomes more laterally explosive, if he becomes even slightly better on defense where he’s just adequate and can add some skills on the offensive end that correlate more with his size I think that Harry may not be able to start, but he’d definitely make a positive impact. Knowing the BIG EAST, I don’t think Froling is a starter in the BIG EAST in his sophomore year coming off a year of sitting out and coming straight into conference play.

Going into what would be his junior year, If he makes the improvements that I think Harry can, I think he’s going to be a significant piece.