Indeed, at that point he was a much better trumpet player than basketball player. The Doc he seemed more likely to replace on the national stage was Severinsen not J. "He was a real, real big kid," recalls his mother, Millicent, who is a supervisor at an insurance company in Jackson. "Very awkward."
"But the next year," says Othella, "I worked every day after band practice, jumping benches, playing on the playground, just working out." He improved dramatically, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds as an eighth-grader at Chastain Junior High. His future was set during his sophomore year, when he gave up the band. "I could have seen myself playing with a band," he says, "but I was more focused on basketball."
Harrington's game soon became as distinctive as his name. He played it above the rim, assuming the worst of his teammates. Just as Kidd presumes every pass will lead to two points, Harrington developed the notion that every shot is a rebound. They're both right about half the time.
Although Harrington was almost the last highly recruited player in the land to declare his college preference, he never harbored any serious doubt about attending Georgetown. He had grown up watching Ewing play on television and had long assumed he would follow in those huge footsteps. "He's been talking about going there since the seventh grade," says Millicent. "The one thing I've always admired about my son—when he says he wants to do something, he does it."
Still, Millicent, who with her sister, Mattie Dykes, thought up the name Othella, worries about his single-mindedness. "He puts so much pressure on himself," she says. "He'd come home after he'd had such a pretty game, and he'd sit down and critique it. He could've done this or that better. That's the one thing I didn't like. I wanted him to enjoy it more."
However, like Kidd, Harrington is now playing in an even more demanding arena, one in which the happiness of others threatens to become more important than their own. Unlike most of us, freshmen phenoms only have a few months to lead a normal life. For these two, that time is over.