NOC Enid basketball well-represented on All-Region team

NOC Enid's Romio Harvey drives the lane in front of Ranger College's Brian Au during the Chick-fil-A/Northern Oklahoma College Classic Saturday November 17, 2018 at the Central National Bank Center. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

Romio Harvey doesn't shy away from putting forth an extra effort. The Northern Oklahoma College Enid guard understands that is what it's going to take if he wants to fulfill his dream of playing professional basketball someday.

“That’s something I have to do to try and be the best that I can be,” he said. “My work ethic is what’s going to get me to the next level.”

On Dec. 11, after the Jets defeated Southwest Christian JV, 96-72, Harvey walked out of the locker room and back onto the floor of NOC Enid's Mabee Center in gym shorts and a cut-off shirt.

A dozen NOC Enid students and fans still mingled on the far end of the court as Harvey made his way to the home-side bench. With Drake — a popular rapper, singer, songwriter — playing in his headphones, Harvey sat down and took a moment to relax. He'd just finished a fast-paced game less than half an hour earlier.

After a few short minutes, the sophomore stood to his feet, with a ball in hand, and dribbled toward the free-throw line. There, he proceeded to attempt shot after shot.

Normally, Harvey would go to the weight room and workout with fellow sophomore teammate Ray’Shawn Dotson following a game, but after an off-shooting night in which Harvey went just 1 for 8 from the field, he knew where he needed to be.

Harvey isn’t required to stick around after a game. If he wanted, he could go home and watch T.V., or fill his stomach with a refreshing meal. But, in an attempt to exceed his peers, he goes the extra mile working out the kinks in his game.

From bench player to starter

With a tireless approach, Harvey’s on-court production has swelled this season compared to his freshman campaign. He's taken the step up from a bench player to a full-time starter. Harvey's points per game have nearly tripled from just over five per game during the 2017-18 season to a team-high 14.4 this season. In fact, with half of the season still remaining, Harvey’s already scored 44 more points than he did last year.

He also leads the Jets in free throw attempts (99), free throws made (74) and assists (61), more than double the amount recorded by any of his teammates.

Harvey admits last season was a learning process for him as a first-year college athlete. Luckily, he had plenty of talented guards in front of him he could learn from. However, with a majority of those players now departed from the program, he entered his sophomore season with a changed mindset.

“I knew this year I was going to have to be more of a leader,” Harvey said.

As the starting point guard, he’s taken an aggressive approach offensively, attacking the basket off the dribble, and not hesitating to shoot if open. Defensively, Harvey said he’s brought a “nastiness” attitude to his game, taking more pride instead of just going through the motions.

Military family

Harvey credits his relentless effort to growing up in a military family. Harvey's father, Raymond Zackery, is a Master Sergeant in the Field Artillery branch of the United States Army. He currently works in Ft. Riley, Kan. His mother, Elaine Zackery, is a pharmacy technician and is attending Cameron University in Lawton for a degree in nursing.

Harvey said both of them start their day at 4 a.m.

The labor his parents put forth is what motivates Harvey to continue pushing forward in hopes he can help them out someday. He also has three sisters, Juliette, 18, Lyona, 17, and Queen, 12, he wants to take care of, too.

“That’s pretty much where my hunger comes from,” he said.

Harvey started playing YMCA basketball when he was 4-years old and living in Albany, Ga. He recalls instances when his competitiveness even got him in trouble. Harvey said he would push kids if they got in his way, or cry over the smallest things, like a missed shot.

"My mom didn't like it," Harvey said with a laugh. "But my dad loved it because he knew I was going to be a competitor. I hated losing."

High-energy leadership

Aaron Butcher, who is in his first season as the head coach of the NOC Enid men's basketball program, said Harvey has been a key part to the team with his high-energy leadership, showing his younger teammates just what it takes to be a college athlete.

At the start of this season, Harvey was one of just three returning players who participated in at least 20 of the Jets' 28 games last year. Dotson, who Harvey works out with after games, and sophomore guard Tony Hall were the other two.

"He's been really big," Butcher said of Harvey. "He's a guy that you know is going to bring it every single day."

When Butcher met Harvey for the first time, he noticed a shining personality that drew people in. Harvey is quick to admit he's not a shy person. It doesn't matter who it is, he'll approach anyone and start a conversation.

That same outspoken personality Harvey has off of the court comes alive when he's is in the gym playing the game he loves.

When Harvey completed his high school career at Lawton Eisenhower, he felt his greatest strength was being a vocal leader. His vocality aided the Eagles to an appearance in the state tournament all four years, including a Class 5A title in 2015.

Harvey plans to continue his collegiate career at a NCAA Division I or Division II institution next year. So far, he's been in contact with Malone University—a D-II program in Canton, Ohio–but hopes as the season continues, more doors will open.

Although he'd like to make the jump to the D-I level, he understands some D-II players have gone on to play professionally, and on the other hand, many D-I players don't.

Regardless of which school Harvey ends up at, he'll take with him the same non-stop effort that's gotten him to this step of reaching his dream.

"I'm one of those guys who wants to go to the best situation to make it professional," Harvey said. "That's the ultimate goal."

NOC Enid resumes season at Dodge City

NOC Enid's 2018-19 season didn't start the way it envisioned. The Jets went 4-10 in the 2018 half, but closed out the calendar year with two-straight wins against SW Christian JV and Rhema Bible College.

Harvey spent some time over his 19-day break watching film on the first half of the season, and is confident he and his teammates can turn it around.

"I feel like we can make a big push in 2019," he said.

Both NOC Enid teams begin the back-half of its season on the road against Dodge City Saturday. The Lady Jets (10-2) will tip-off against the Lady Conquistadors (8-5) at 1 p.m., followed by the men's game, which is schedules to begin at 3 p.m.

The Lady Jets enter the game on a 10-game win streak after losing their first two games of the season. With five players averaging double figures in points, NOC Enid's offense ranks 25th in NJCAA Division I with 80.6 points scored per game.

Harvey and the rest of NOC Enid's mens squad match up against a Dodge City team with a 6-7 record, losing four of its last five. Its lone win during that recent stretch came by just two points against Butler, 76-74.

"It's certainly a game we can win," Butcher said. "But, we're going to have to play really well to win."

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Nagel is a sports reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. He can be reached at cnagel@enidnews.com.

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