“I remember I’d be shooting a free throw and see [former West Virginia coach] Bob Huggins watching through the gym,” said Brown. “Any major school from Duke to Florida to Kansas to Kentucky, I have seen them consistently.”
When the recruiting process heated up after Brown’s first year at NMH, he sat down for a meeting with Carroll to weigh out his college options. At the time, Brown had his sights set on playing for a national powerhouse, and attending anything less was almost laughable.
“I wasn’t really looking at the Ivy League because I wanted to play Big East, Big Ten,” said Brown. “So when the Ivy schools were coming to recruit me I wasn’t interested.”
But Carroll has always stressed to his players the importance of attending schools that excelled not only athletically but also academically. So, Carroll made a point to send his star guard to Harvard’s Crimson Elite basketball camp in the winter of 2008.
“Coach Amaker is a top-level recruiter and he sat me down and sold me on what has happened [at Harvard],” Brown said. “He sold us on that seven or six years ago, telling us what we were going to do and how we were going to do it. I know I bought into that vision and he said ‘Matt, this is Harvard University. This is the best university in the country. What other things can you say you were the first person to do there?’”
After the camp, Brown’s next meeting with Carroll went much differently. Now he was the one explaining why Harvard was the right choice for him.
Brown became another name in the rapidly growing list of highly recruited players to choose an Ivy League school. In previous years, playing Ivy League basketball meant sacrificing the opportunity to play in front of a national audience in return for an unparalleled diploma. But with Amaker coaching Harvard and Cornell making the Sweet Sixteen, the league had begun to gain back respect for a conference that had not been on the national radar since the 1970s.
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