CINCINNATI — John Brannen’s first big-name recruit as UC’s new basketball coach is a top-50 player with a sex charge on his record.
Zach Harvey, a 6-5 shooting guard from Kansas, comes to UC after pleading no contest to charges that he sexually exploited a 15-year-old girl when he was 16, and with a warning from Athletic Director Mike Bohn that one strike and he’s out.
“There will be zero tolerance for any behavior during his time at UC which is inconsistent with our department’s guiding principles,” Bohn said in a release from UC on Thursday.
Announcing his signing on Twitter, Harvey thanked God and everyone who supported him.
Thank you God for putting me In this position. Without my Dad, family, friends and coaches none of this would be possible. I am so very grateful for everyone that has supported me and stuck with me since Day 1. This upcoming season I will be a Cincinnati Bearcat 🐾❤️🖤 pic.twitter.com/dSe6IUVsPy
— Zach Harvey (@zachxharvey) June 27, 2019
“Thank you God for putting me in this position,” Harvey said on his post. “Without my dad, family, friends and coaches, none of this would be possible. I am so very grateful for everyone that has supported me and stuck with me since Day 1. This upcoming season I will be a Cincinnati Bearcat.”
Harvey got in trouble when he was a high school junior, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Harvey and two other Kansas prep stars were charged in October 2017, accused of having sexually explicit images or videos of a 15-year-old girl and encouraging the girl to perform sexually explicit acts.
The charges were eventually reduced from two felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child to misdemeanors of endangering a child and breach of privacy.
Harvey was 17 when he pleaded no contest in June 2018.
Bohn said UC did “a thorough review of [Harvey’s] background and character.” He said Harvey “took full ownership of his actions without making any excuses” during a recruiting visit here.
"Zach recognizes it is a privilege to be a student-athlete at UC and it’s our expectation he will be an upstanding member of our campus community,” Bohn added. “We are working with Zach on a plan to ensure continued personal development along with his success as a student-athlete. We will hold him accountable to this process and work to evaluate his progress. He is aware of these expectations and accepts he will be held to an even higher standard than his peers.
“Zach is committed to earning the trust of his teammates, coaches, fellow students and athletics staff."
Harvey will have four years of eligibility beginning his fall, according to UC.
Originally classified as a 2020 prospect, Harvey was rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports.com (No. 48) and Rivals.com (No. 50). He was listed as the ninth-best shooting guard in the nation for the 2020 class by 247Sports.com.
Brannen said he “evaluated Harvey closely” during the last several years on the AAU circuit and with USA Basketball.
“He brings the length, athleticism and playmaking ability we look for in guards for our system," Brannen said.
Last summer, Harvey played on the Under Armour Circuit for KC Run GMC, averaging 16.3 points and 3.6 rebounds, according to UC’s release. He shot 45.7% from the floor and 36.7% from three-point range.
Harvey led Topeka’s Hayden High School to the Kansas state championship in 2017-18. He averaged 23.1 points and scored 34 points with six three-pointers in the state championship game.
Harvey played the 2018-19 season at Prolific Prep in Napa, California. He averaged 16.5 points, 4.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds through 11 games before an ankle injury sidelined him for the rest of the year.