In one of college sports’ oldest rivalries, the Harvard men’s basketball team stormed into Yale’s Payne Whitney Gymnasium on March 7 looking to clinch the Ivy League title outright for the third straight year.
Eight minutes into the first half, Yale freshman Anthony Dallier entered the game for the first time, tapping out junior Armani Cotton and immediately getting matched up with Harvard co-captain Laurent Rivard. Eleven seconds later, the Bulldogs drew a foul on Harvard sophomore Evan Cummins, who immediately headed to the bench and took a seat alongside teammates junior Matt Brown and freshman Zena Edosomwan.
In 40 minutes, the six never took the court at the same time. Yet, only five years ago, they had battled hundreds of times together in the same high school gym at Northfield Mount Hermon, a small New England prep school that was the best-represented institution on the Payne Whitney hardwood.
NMH trumpets its basketball roots—on its basketball webpage, 2013 NCAA Tournament diaper dandy and NMH alumnus Spike Albrecht is pictured front and center. But the sophomore Michigan point guard isn’t the focal point of head coach John Carroll’s note to visitors. Instead, Carroll proudly writes, “In 2013-2014, NMH will have 11 players in the Ivy League, which is over three times more than any other school in the nation.”
Carroll has been at the helm of NMH’s program since 2001, and in this time he has built a dynasty with rosters that have included NCAA champions, McDonald’s All-American Nominees and Academic All-Americans. His players are known for entering Division I basketball programs and being ready to compete on the hardwood from move-in day.
When Tommy Amaker was hired as Harvard’s head coach in 2007, tapping into this talent became a priority of his that has transformed into a luxury over the past seven seasons. In those seven seasons, Amaker has added 28 recruits from prep schools—five from NMH. His first year, prep school students composed barely a quarter of the roster; five years later, 86 percent of the players had prep school roots. While Ivy League admissions officers have traditionally traveled to prep schools in search of top students, the trend of Ivy League coaches heading into prep schools gyms for premier prospects is much newer.