Harpring played college basketball at Georgia Tech, where he was a four-year starter. He was named First Team All-ACC three times (the only other Yellow Jacket player to accomplish this feat was Mark Price from 1984 to 1986). In his senior season (1997-98), Harpring set career-highs by averaging 21.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, ranking second in the ACC in both categories. For his efforts, he was named Third Team All-American.
He finished his collegiate career as Georgia Tech's second all-time leader in points (2,225) and rebounds (997). He is the institute's all-time leader in free throws attempted (675) and made (508). Prior to his final regular season home game, Georgia Tech retired Harpring?s jersey number 15.
While he excelled on the court, he was equally impressive in the classroom. Harpring earned a bachelor?s degree in business management from Georgia Tech, and was named GTE Academic All-District III three times. As a senior, he was an Academic All-American.
The Orlando Magic selected Harpring with the 15th pick in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft. In his rookie season, he averaged 8.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He started 22 of 50 games, averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds as a starter. He was named to the 1998-99 NBA All-Rookie First Team.
In his second year with the Magic, Harpring played in just four games. An injury to his left ankle sidelined him for most of the season. In August of 2000, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He played just one season with the Cavs, averaging 11.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 56 games. He scored a career-high 28 points against Charlotte on March 16, 2001.
In August of 2001, the Cavs traded Harpring to the Philadelphia 76ers. Harpring played in 81 games for the Sixers during the 2001-02 season. He set career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. For the year, he averaged 11.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He scored 20 or more points in five different games.
Harpring signed a free agent contract with the Utah Jazz in August of 2002. Known as a smart, hard-working player, he fit well in Utah?s offensive system, playing alongside superstars Karl Malone and John Stockton. Harpring played the best basketball of his career, averaging 17.6 points per game while shooting 51.1 percent from the floor and 41.3 percent on three-pointers. He set a new career high with 30 points against the Los Angeles Clippers on November 26, 2002. Three nights later, he set another career high with 33 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves (on November 29, 2002). He finished second in voting for the NBA's Most Improved Player in 2002-03 (behind Golden State's Gilbert Arenas).
Prior to the 2003-04 season, Stockton announced his retirement and Malone left Utah to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. Harpring was named team captain by coach Jerry Sloan. Harpring provided leadership for the young team, which played surprisingly well despite the departures of Malone and Stockton. Harpring's season ended suddenly with a knee injury that required surgery to repair. In 31 games, he averaged 16.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. At the time of his injury, he was Utah's leading scorer.
Harpring returned from his injury the following season, but saw his role on the team reduced as Andrei Kirilenko emerged as an All-Star at small forward, and the Jazz added power forwards Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur to the roster. In the past two seasons, Harpring has seen action at both forward positions, and has played significant minutes at shooting guard as well. He has been shifted in and out of the starting lineup, mostly due to injuries (to himself or teammates), but remains a key player on the team.
- Matt Harpring - Official Site