Harvard basketball fans have gotten very accustomed to the phrase “Three-pointer. Laurent Rivard” in Lavietes Pavilion over the past four years. But how could they not? Laurent hit quite a few of them in his time at Harvard. There were 287 to be exact, which is the most threes in Harvard history and the second-most in Ivy League history. Laurent was so deadly from deep that teammates and fans often began the three-point celebration as soon as the ball left his hand. No need to wait and see; the result was imminent. But while these deep threes might be the first thing that comes to mind for fans when looking back on the career of Laurent Rivard, his most significant contributions to Harvard basketball were made behind the scenes, far removed from the announcers and screaming fans.
Laurent arrived in Cambridge as a freshman ready to contribute. In his first season, he played over 25 minutes and averaged 11 points per game. Even as a newcomer, Laurent stepped up in the big games throughout the year. Most notably, he scored a career-high 23 points in a big win for Harvard at Boston College. He was awarded Ivy League Rookie of the Week three times and finished third among rookies in scoring. These trends continued throughout his four years at Harvard as Laurent finished his career ranked 11th in scoring in Harvard history with 1,270 points. Laurent also received an All-Ivy League honorable mention his junior year and was second team All-Ivy League his senior season.
During his four years at Harvard, Laurent developed significantly as a player, teammate, and leader. As a senior, Laurent had added dimensions to his game that every team needs in order to be successful at the highest level. While displaying the same three-point stroke he was known for, he became an excellent help-side defender, providing the support and rotation necessary to keep opponents from getting good looks at the basket. Despite being a more traditional wing player, Laurent embraced his role guarding opponents’ big men in order to create a matchup nightmare defensively for other teams when their bigs were expected to guard him.
Similarly, he was never afraid to lay his body on the line and take a charge against opponents driving to the hoop. If teams tried to spotlight him and keep him from getting open on the perimeter, Laurent kept the ball moving, and became a great screener to generate even better scoring opportunities for teammates. These aspects of basketball are not as glamorous or awe-inducing as a clutch three, but all have been staples of the Harvard basketball identity and crucial to the success of this program.
As an underclassman, Laurent was able to lead by example and let his work ethic, dedication, and on-court performances do the talking. However, as his time at Harvard progressed, so too did his leadership. With each year came a better understanding of what it takes to be successful as well as the confidence to relay this understanding to the rest of the team. As a co-captain his junior and senior seasons, his criticisms came without a personal agenda, with only the success of the team as a whole in mind. Laurent was always his own biggest critic and most suggestions he brought to the team were changes for “us,” not changes for “you.” These things are not easy to say, but, again, were necessary for the success of Harvard basketball.
Despite these developments, there were some things that remained a constant for Laurent during his time as a Harvard basketball player. The first is his tireless work ethic and dedication. It never mattered if Laurent were in a drought or riding a hot streak for his shooting; he was always in the gym. Whether getting up thousands of shots on the shooting machine or working with coaches on other aspects of his game, Laurent was always improving and striving for perfection. It’s easy to have an opinion that matters in a locker room when you sacrifice and put the individual work in for your team.
The second constant during Laurent’s four years here at Harvard is winning. Four years, four Ivy League championships, three NCAA Tournament appearances, and two NCAA Tournament wins. These accomplishments speak for themselves and are even more impressive considering that Harvard had never won an Ivy League title when Laurent’s freshman class stepped on campus.
This is not to say that Laurent is the biggest factor in these Harvard basketball achievements—and he would be the first to make sure everyone knows that. It is this hard work, dedication, and team-first attitude that will be missed by his teammates, coaches, and the Harvard community.
Cummins played with Rivard in high school at Northfield Mount Hermon and for two seasons at Harvard. As a sophomore in the 2013-2014 campaign, Cummins was a valuable player off the bench for the Crimson.