The fans were sweltering on a muggy summer day inside Lavietes Pavilion when the point guard sporting a white “Harvard Basketball” penny came up with the ball in the open court.
Turning toward the basket, he dribbled down the sideline with a teammate trailing behind him and one defender between him and the basket.
Just as the defender made his move to stop the ball, the point guard let a pass go between his legs that bounced into the hands of his streaking teammate, who finished with a two handed slam.
No, that was not Harvard’s Oliver McNally with the dime or the Crimson’s Kyle Casey with the flush, as is the case most of the year at Lavietes Pavilion. Instead it was West Boca’s Tommy Sirkin connecting with St. John’s Prep’s Pat Connaughton—two of over 70 high school basketball players that participated in the annual Basketball Academy at Harvard this weekend.
Participants from as far away as California, Indiana, and Florida flew in for the three-day camp that took place in Cambridge from June 26-28. Led by the coaching staff of the Harvard men’s basketball team and four current and former varsity players—rising sophomore Jeff Georgatos, rising juniors Andrew Van Nest and Keith Wright, and Dan McGeary ’10—the participants were given a taste of basketball at the Division I level.
The campers ran the same transition defense drill as the Crimson, tested their agility at the Palmer Dixon training facility, lived in college dorms, listened to a guest lecture from former Philadelphia 76er’s General Manager Billy King, and scrimmaged on the court at Lavietes.
And while this year’s group of players may not have had the same talent as last year’s crop—which included Vanderbilt’s Rod Odom and Stanford’s Dwight Powell—there were still a handful of players who managed to catch the attention of the handful of Division I and Division III coaches that were in attendance.
Northfield Mount Hermon, which boasts one of the top basketball programs in the country and is represented well on Ivy League basketball rosters, sent three players to the Harvard camp, including Evan Cummis, a 6’8” forward ranked 14th in New England in the class of 2012 according to New England Recruiting Report.
Along with teammates Tommy Carpenter and Cazador Armani, the three NMH players led their team to a come-from-behind championship victory against the team coached by McGeary on the final day of camp. Additionally, each participated in the concluding all-star game.
Joining the trio at the all-star game was sharpshooter Drew Dyer of Colorado, who knocked down a couple of big threes in the contest and throughout the weekend. The rising senior is reportedly interested in playing at the Ivy League level.
Connaughton—ranked 29th in New England for the class of 2011—had his share of highlight-real plays during the final contest, elevating over his defender and throwing down a two-handed slam as he was fouled.
Myles Pearson, a 5’10” guard from California rated a 78 on a 100-point rating scale used by ESPN.com to evaluate high school basketball players with college basketball potential, also showed off his skills in the all-star game.
And for the Ivy League hopefuls and the nationally recognized prospects, the camp provided an opportunity for both the players and the Harvard coaching staff to get a better look at each other.
Perhaps if both sides liked what they saw, some of the campers could be trading in their “Harvard Basketball” pennies for a real Crimson uniform in the near future.