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BREAKING NEWS: GRC's Harris bit by injury bug, could miss significant time, Poplar leaves for prep school

   | Scott Burnstein

BREAKING NEWS: GRC's Harris bit by injury bug, could miss significant time, Poplar leaves for prep school

A pair of minor bombshells hit the state’s high-school sports newswire this past week, as Grand Rapids Christian All-American football player Drake Harris suffered an injury and River Rouge basketball star Jamal Poplar left the state.

Harris, defending Division 3 state-champion Grand Rapids Christian’s mega-playmaker of a wide receiver, pulled a hamstring at his team’s preseason scrimmage on Thursday.

Considered the No. 1 player in the state on the offensive side of the pigskin, Harris (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) could miss 4-6 weeks healing, which would probably equate to half the regular-season of his senior year.

Even minus its superstar, game-changing deep threat, Grand Rapids Christian has additional high-grade talent on the field (Northwestern-bound lineman Tommy Doles comes to mind) and should still be tough to beat until Harris returns to the line-up.

Breaking the state-record with more than 2,000 yards receiving last season as a junior, he committed to the University of Michigan back in the spring. The commitment to the Wolverines came after de-committing from arch-rival Michigan State, where he had intended on playing both basketball and football.

Following leading Grand Rapids Christian into the Class A final four in basketball in March, Harris announced he was hanging up his Air Jordans and would be just concentrating on his gridiron career from that point forward. On the hardwood, he averaged 25 points and eight assists per game in 2013.

The 6-foot-9 Popular, one of the state’s top big fellas in the Class of 2014 and someone thought to be a candidate for next winter’s Mr. Basketball Award, told his head coach at River Rouge, Bobby Thompson, late last week that he would be departing for Kingdom Prep in Iowa.

Poplar, who is being recruited by Big 10, MAC, Horizon League and Atlantic 10 programs at the college-level, is no stranger to moving around. Spending his freshman and sophomore years at Willow Run, he transferred to River Rouge last season for his junior campaign. Missing his squad’s first- semester games due to the jump, Poplar showed his prowess in the post while in uniform for the second-half of the season, averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots a night.

The “prep school route” has been gaining popularity and traction in the MHSAA ranks recently. Poplar is the third Mr. Basketball candidate to head to prep school in the last year. Lansing Eastern incoming all-state senior point guard Charles (Cha Cha) Tucker left the Mitten last summer, while Warren De La Salle all-state junior swingman A.J. Turner packed up and traveled east to New Hampton Prep in New Hampshire in the spring.