Harler continues to impress the state

WHEELING – It’s been a pretty good three months for Wheeling Central rising junior Chase Harler.

He has won a state championship (scoring 30 in the state championship victory over Charleston Catholic), made first team all-state, got his first Division I offer and put on an outstanding display against some of the state’s top talent at the Next Level Exposure Camp last Sunday in Parkersburg.

Big stuff indeed.

And the kid doesn’t even have a driver’s license yet.

Consider last Sunday’s showcase put on by Nathan Conley in Parkersburg, in front of several Division II college coaches and scouts, for starters.

Harler, a 6-foot-3 guard, went to the camp – which featured the likes of Dikembe and Montrell Dixson, Kentucky natives now attending Mingo Central and considered can’t-miss Division I prospects, Woodrow Wilson’s recently graduated Donte Nabors, Wheeling Park’s starting point guard Toddy Goodwin-Rowe and sophomore standout Phil Bledsoe and many of the current stars in Region 1 from Morgantown and Parkersburg – not really knowing what to expect.

“When you are playing against that kind of competition, playing against all these guys who are being recruited to play at the next level, you have to pick up your game,” Harler said. “I feel like I play better and I step up my own game when I get in those kinds of situations but I really wasn’t sure what would happen.”

What happened was typical Harler.

He averaged 26 points in three games, scoring 32, 27 and 19 points.

That came after averaging 21.3 in three state tournament games in March, following a season in which he averaged more than 20 points per game.

Indeed, his reputation has grown by leaps and bounds since March, when Central captured the Class A state title. He was pretty well known by then.

He admits as much, and can point to a Division I offer from Marshall University to prove the point.

Marshall, which recent hired Mullens native and alum Dan D’Antoni as its new coach, had been interested in Harler and he called assistant coach Mark Cline, who had been recruiting him, in May when he was in Charleston for the state track meet.

“I was at the mall, walking around, so I gave him a call,” Harler said.

What he ended up with was a scholarship offer that day.

“He told me they wanted me at Marshall and the scholarship offer would be there for the next two seasons,” Harler said. “I was a little surprised. But it is a big confidence builder. If I have a bad game I just think about that. Really, it just makes me hungry for more.”

It likely won’t be his last Division I offer.

He’ll have a chance to do more work, impress some more college coaches, with some of the top talent in the state next month, as a member of the West Virginia Wildcat Select team.

The Charleston-based AAU squad features the best of the best in the state, including Huntington Prep senior and WVU commit Levi Cook, South Charleston’s Brandon Knapper, Chris Shields, a former Hedgesville standout, Montrell Dixson, Point Pleasant’s Wade Martin and Wheeling Park sniper Ryan Reinbeau, who is recovering from knee surgery and could be ready to play.

The team will play in Myrtle Beach, Cincinnati and Richmond the first three weekends in July.

How good can he be? The sky really is the limit.

But can he be the best. It’s been a while since a player not playing at the Class AAA level has won the Evans Award, given annually to the state’s top player. George Washington senior Jon Elmore was the runaway winner this past season.

“I know (South Charleston sophomore) Brandon (Knapper) was runner-up and I have a lot of respect for him,” Harler said of his AAU teammate. “He is a great player. It’s something I’ve thought about but it certainly isn’t the most important thing on my list.”

The case for Harler will be simple.

He is a scorer and he is going to get his points.

If he can get his team back to Charleston, which is his top priority, then anything can happen. Getting to Charleston would be a major feather in the Maroon Knight leader’s cap, as they lose fellow first-team all-stater David Park, Alonzo Manns and some outstanding role players.

“We are a young group,” Harler said. “It’s definitely going to hurt losing those guys. But I think some of these young guys are going to step in and play their role. Not necessarily replace those guys but contribute enough to help us win.”

Confident is something Harler has in droves, heading into the the rest of a busy summer.