Xavier's Amber Harris to return next season

Amber Harris will return for another season at Xavier, which narrowly missed out on its first trip to the Final Four this week.

Harris announced on Wednesday that she'll use her final season of eligibility, looking to make another run at a Final Four appearance. The Musketeers lost to 55-53 to Stanford after a coast-to-coast layup at the buzzer in a regional final on Monday.

Coach Kevin McGuff said the Musketeers' second trip to the round of eight in school history left Harris wanting more.

"She really enjoyed this year, our experience in NCAA tournament," McGuff said in a phone interview. "Being that close to the Final Four really whets your appetite. I think she felt like, 'Wow, to have a chance to come back and try again is something special.'"

The 6-foot-5 junior forward was the Atlantic 10's player of the year, teaming with 6-foot-6 junior center Ta'Shia Phillips to give the Musketeers one of the best frontcourt tandems in the country. With the duo from Indianapolis leading the way, Xavier had numerous breakthroughs this season.

The Musketeers went 30-4 and won 21 straight games, matching the longest winning streak in school history. They were the first Xavier team to go undefeated in A-10 play and win the conference tournament, got a school-best No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, and made it up to No. 5 in the AP poll — the highest ranking for an Xavier men's or women's team.

Xavier will return four of its five starters and six of its top seven scorers next season. Point guard Special Jennings and Katie Rutan, who set a school record for 3-pointers by a freshman, are coming back.

Harris needed surgery on her left knee that wiped out her 2008-09 season. She will graduate in May and could have moved on to play pro ball, but decided to stay for one more shot at a Final Four, which will be played in her hometown of Indianapolis next season.

"I believe next year's team has a chance to be special, and I want to be a part of it," said Harris, who declined to talk about her decision except for the statement.