Harris attended Charleston High where he averaged 23.6 points and 16.4 rebounds on a 23-1 team his senior year. Coming into WVU, Harris was believed to have made an excellent transition from his high school center position to the corner for the Mountaineers freshman team. Many compared him to former WVU star Carey Bailey because of his excellent jumping ability. As a freshman, he led the team in almost every department—field goals attempted (290), field goals made (134), free throws attempted (78), free throws made (43), rebounding (190), scoring (311), and scoring average (23.9). He topped the 30 mark four times his freshman year.

Going into his sophomore, Harris was considered a fine young prospect who could push for a starting berth on the team that year (1971). He was considered to possess agility and mobility, had good timing on the boards and ran well for a big man. That year, he went on to be the team's third leading scorer averaging 11.1 points per game while hitting 49 percent of his shots from the floor. Harris played 618 minutes—the third highest total on the squad. Coach Moran often referred to him as the sixth starter.