One of the most intriguing story lines of Friday’s football game against Brown has nothing to do with football.
For the fifth year in a row, men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker will welcome a number of highly-touted high schoolers to campus during the weekend of the football team’s home opener in an effort to persuade them to select Harvard and turn down offers from major schools in the process.
The former Michigan and Seton Hall coach will have his hands fuller than ever on Friday, as he hosts eight prospects from the high school classes of 2012 and 2013—six of whom are currently in the MaxPreps.com Top 100 rankings for their year.
Amaker has employed the football night game tactic recently with varying success. Neither of the two top targets that visited two years ago is currently on the Harvard roster, but exactly one year ago, current freshman Kenyatta Smith committed to joining the Crimson during his official visit.
But this time around, Amaker’s recruiting targets have set him apart from not only his peers in the Ivy League, but also his own track record.
“An Ivy League school staying in the mix with these guys is shocking,” Jeff Borzello, a college basketball writer at CBSSports.com, said. “There’s been high-major head coaches at mid-major schools before, and it doesn’t work like this. I think it’s really impressive.”
CLASS OF 2016?
The star-studded list of visitors begins with Harvard-Westlake School (Calif.) senior Zena Edosomwan, one of the premier big men on the West Coast.
“Very much a kid who plays hard in the lane, a finisher,” ESPN analyst Dave Telep said. “Kind of a blue-collar guy that has really erupted in the last year or so. A back-end top-100 player, just a very trustworthy power forward.”
The 6’8”, 230-lb Edosomwan, who carries a 3.0 GPA and will be taking the SAT next month, is considering a final list of five schools: the University of Southern California, University of Washington, UC Berkeley, University of Texas, and Harvard. He will decide in November after completing his official visits.
“[Assistant coach Yanni] Hufnagel is someone I really respect, and I met Coach Amaker some time during the spring,” said Edosomwan, who is ranked the No. 12 power forward in the nation by Scout.com. “They’ve recruited me very hard. I really understand and see where they’re trying to take this program.”
Fellow front-court presence Mike Hall, standing at 6’10”, 195 pounds, will be making his way to campus as well.
The Rivals.com three-star prospect is coming off of a trip to UPenn last weekend and has also made an official visit at George Mason. He said recently that Harvard rounds out his top three schools but that he also has offers from Northwestern and Memphis. A senior at Woodward Academy (Ga.), he has a 3.4 GPA and plans to retake the SAT soon.
“Hall is a long-term stock as a four- or a five-man,” Telep said. “Length and ability to change ends and run the floor are two of his calling cards. The next step for him is going from prospect to player.”
“In the Ivy League, he could dominate,” Borzello added. “By his junior year, people could be saying, ‘How did he get to Harvard?’”