Olivia Harness is not burdened by history. Harness, an 11-year-old basketball phenom from Arizona, wants to become the first woman to play in the NBA.
She’s certainly off to a promising start. Harness, with her mind-boggling handles and smooth jumper, has made a habit of going viral and has more than 36,000 followers on Instagram. Last April, in a guest spot on NBA on TNT, Harness told Shaquille O’Neal she could “drop” him with one move.
Harness started playing basketball after watching her older sister, Tatiana, train with their father Mike. Harness decided she wanted to be better than her sister, and that competitive spirit helped launch her career. Now, Harness, who said one of her basketball heroes is Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, spends two hours per day working on her dribbling and another five to six hours in general training. She plays for her father on the Arizona Select travel team and often scrimmages with 14-year-old Tatiana, who is something of a phenom herself.
“They have the same basketball dream, and so there’s times I have to pull them apart,” Mike said.
“We are very competitive,” said Harness, who goes by the nickname Liv. “Whenever we go down the stairs and we play one-on-one, sometimes I get really frustrated. … I’m more competitive and hard on myself than I thought I was.”
Watch the latest episode of “No Days Off” from Whistle to learn more about the aspiring basketball star.
Josh Needelman is the High School Sports Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JoshNeedelman.