Harvard’s 2016 recruiting class ranked No. 10 in the nation, a historic accomplishment for the Ivy League University. The Crimson was ahead of every single 2016 Final Four team and six of the eight Elite Eight teams—trailing only Kansas and Virginia. David Freed profiles each of the seven members of the class before they step on the floor for the season opener against Stanford, covering their recruiting process, playing style, and potential fit on this year’s team. In this one, he covers power forward Seth Towns.
Of all the recruits, Seth Towns’ commitment was probably the largest shock. Towns rejected offers from Ohio State and Michigan, high majors that were looking at few of the other recruits, in order to come to Cambridge in early July, joining fellow four-star Chris Lewis, who had committed in January.
Towns offered some insight into the decision in a conversation with Bleacher Report, where he noted his desire to major in computer science and potentially work at Google if basketball doesn’t succeed. He called the decision a “no-brainer” and said that he thought the team was “on an unbelievable rise,” citing his trip to Crimson Madness at the beginning of the year as a big factor in the recruitment. Like many recruits, he was sold on one of Amaker’s central pitches—calling it “an opportunity for me to do something that nobody else will.”
Towns has as complete and refined an offensive game as you typically see on a highlight tape. He averaged 32 points and 12 rebounds a game his senior year while breaking his high school’s record for points in a four-year career, a feat that is made that much more impressive by the fact that NBA first-round picks Jared Sullinger and Trey Burke attended his high school.
On his highlight tapes (see one here), you can see evidence of the varied game that Towns brings to the floor. While it is evident that he is playing against players who aren’t in the same league as him, he is able to both drive and shoot from around the floor. At the 0:45 mark, he breaks out a nice fadeaway shot after backing down a defender, something you rarely see from a high schooler.
Of all the rookies, it is easiest to get most excited about Towns next year. He tore up high school competition in Ohio and comes in right at a position of need for the Crimson. He is the best small forward prospect in the class and Harvard lacks an obvious starter at the position after the consecutive graduations of All-Ivy talents Wesley Saunders ’15 and Agunwa Okolie ’16.
Junior Andre Chatfield is the main competitor for the role, but he lacks the complete offensive game that Towns is able to bring to the table. After spending two years under Amaker, he will surely be a better defender, but Chatfield’s three-point shot is unsteady and his points this year largely came off broken plays and in transition. Towns, by contrast, has a more mature offensive game and the size to bother most Ivy League wings.
Who gets the starting nod between the two may simply come down to the rest of the starting lineup. The two surefire starters—returning seniors Siyani Chambers and Zena Edosomwan—are excellent defenders and decent offensive players. If Amaker slots in sophomore Corey Johnson at the two and a freshman (either Chris Lewis or Robert Baker) at the four, then he may opt for defense at the three to balance the lineup. If he takes junior Chris Egi at the four, he may opt for Towns to spread the floor and give Edosomwan and Chambers space to operate inside.
–Staff writer David Freed can be reached at email@example.com.