Men's Hoops Earns NABC Team Academic Excellence Award

Published by Stephen J. Gleason and Theresa C. Hebert on August 24, 2015 at 3:44AM
Okolie NABC

Four members of the Crimson also earned individual distinctions from the NABC, including senior Agunwa Okolie.

The Harvard men’s basketball team was one of three Division I programs that participated in this year's NCAA Tournament to receive the NABC Team Academic Excellence Award. The National Association of Basketball Coaches bestows the honor on teams that reach a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.

Additionally, four student-athletes were honored with a place on the NABC Honors Court. Charlie Anastasi '15, Alex Nesbitt '15, and seniors Agunwa Okolie and Patrick Steeves received the honor, which is given annually to junior and senior athletes who maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or better.

Okolie, an Economics concentrator from Ajax, Ont., had a breakout 2014-2015 campaign, earning the Crimson's Most Improved Player Award. The swingman progressed in nearly every statistical category and became a key contributor for Harvard, starting 27 of the team's 30 games and often covering the opponent's top scorer.

Fellow Ivy League teams Columbia and Yale joined the Crimson in receiving the team distinction, while the Crimson led the Ancient Eight with its four individual honorees. Northern Iowa and Belmont were the only other teams to receive the award and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Overall, Harvard was one of 175 teams recognized, while Anastasi, Nesbitt, Okolie, and Steeves joined a record-setting 1,000 players in the Honor Court.

Kyle Casey '13-'14 Signs With Phoenix Suns

Published by David Freed on August 23, 2015 at 3:52PM
Casey to Phoenix

Kyle Casey '13-'14 has reportedly signed with the Phoenix Suns.

With the ability to keep 15 salaried players on their roster, the Phoenix Suns have reportedly filled the end of their bench with former Harvard men's basketball forward Kyle Casey ’13-’14. The Suns, who had just 13 players with guaranteed salaries on their roster, signed Casey and shooting guard Terrico White to training-camp contracts on Friday, according to the reports.

Casey averaged just over 11 points a game as a junior before taking on a reduced role in his final season in Cambridge, averaging just under 10 points a game. He shot better than 50 percent in his first three seasons at Harvard and was a four-time All-Ivy League teamer. The 2009-2010 Ivy League Rookie of the Year ranks among the top-15 in Harvard history in points, rebounds, and blocks.

After college, Casey was invited to workouts with various NBA teams—including the hometown Boston Celtics—but eventually went undrafted. After a summer league stint with the Brooklyn Nets, Casey played the 2014-2015 season overseas for Helios in Slovenia.

In camp, Casey will likely compete with Sonny Weems for playing time on the wing behind presumed starter P.J. Tucker and top reserve T.J. Warren. If he doesn’t make the team, he will likely suit up for Phoenix’s D-League affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam, this coming season.

Men's Basketball Schedule Features Trips to Kansas, Hawaii

Published by Stephen J. Gleason and Theresa C. Hebert on August 19, 2015 at 2:20PM
Let's Get It Started

The Harvard men's basketball team will kick off its 2015-2016 campaign on Nov. 13 against MIT.

The Harvard men’s basketball team unveiled its 2015-2016 schedule on July 29 — one that features a challenging nonconference slate, including a matchup with Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 5.

After its annual Crimson Madness event in October and an exhibition contest against McGill on Nov. 6, Harvard will once again kick off its regular season against crosstown rival MIT on Nov. 13 at Lavietes Pavilion.

The Crimson will then be tested early and often, as the team will face regional foes Providence, UMass, and Boston College in consecutive games prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. The Friars reached the NCAA tournament as a No. 6 seed last season, while both Massachusetts teams pushed Harvard to the brink last year, as the Crimson just edged out the Minutemen, 75-73, and fell to the Eagles, 64-57, in overtime.

In December, Harvard will hit the road to take on two more opponents who reached the Big Dance last March: Northeastern (Dec. 2) and Kansas (Dec. 5). The Jayhawks, who earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament last season, will pose the biggest challenge for the Crimson since Virginia, who defeated Harvard by 49 points last December.

Following a hiatus for final exams, the team will head west, where it will compete in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu from Dec. 22 to Dec. 25. The Crimson has seen success in recent years at in-season tournaments, claiming titles at the Battle 4 Atlantis in 2011 and the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout in 2013.

In addition to BYU, who Harvard will face in the first round, the Crimson will be joined by Auburn, New Mexico, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Washington State, and host Hawaii at the holiday tournament. The bracket creates the potential for a rematch of the 2013 NCAA tournament contest between Harvard and New Mexico, in which the Crimson earned its first tournament win in team history.

When its nonconference schedule comes to a close, the Crimson will then have to work to defend its Ivy League title on a late season road trip against Columbia, Cornell, Yale, and Brown from Feb. 19 to Feb. 27.

The team’s Ancient Eight slate will officially begin at home on Jan. 9 against Dartmouth, who handed the Crimson one of its three conference losses during the 2014-2015 campaign. And it will wrap up on March 4 and 5, when Harvard hosts Princeton and Penn.

Jeremy Lin '10 Signs With Charlotte Hornets

Published by David Freed on July 15, 2015 at 11:10AM
Harvard Hornet

Jeremy Lin '10, shown during a game against Cornell his senior year, is heading back to the Eastern Conference.

After taking a tour through three of America’s largest media markets, Linsanity has settled in one of the nation’s sleepiest metropolises.

Following stints in New York, Houston, and Los Angeles, former Harvard men's basketball standout Jeremy Lin ’10 signed a two-year, $4.37 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets last week.

Lin, who endured an up-and-down season in L.A. after being traded to the Lakers by the Rockets, told ESPN that he hopes to “get back” to his strengths in Charlotte.

“I want to get back to what makes me what I am as a player, which is being aggressive, being on the attack and always charging toward the rim,” Lin told ESPN. “I think that will help create easier shots for this team.”

Although Lin averaged double digits for a fourth consecutive season last year, he did so while shooting his lowest percentage from the field (42.4 percent) since his rookie stint with Golden State. With his minutes (25.8) the lowest they had been since his first year, Lin struggled as the primary weapon in sluggish Laker bench units, posting the highest usage rate since his time in New York while seeing his true shooting percentage drop by more than 4 percent.

The one bright spot last season was Lin’s increased accuracy from beyond the three-point line. The 26-year-old has increased his shooting percentage from behind the arc in each season of his professional career and will provide the Hornets with some much-needed spacing after shooting nearly 37 percent last year.

“I don’t know what my limit is or how good I can be, but my goal is to find out,” Lin told ESPN.

Wesley Saunders To Join Utah Jazz for NBA Summer League

Published by Jake Meagher on June 26, 2015 at 3:42PM
Joining the Jazz

Wesley Saunders '15, shown competing against North Carolina in the NCAA tournament in March, will join the Utah Jazz for the NBA Summer League.

Former Harvard basketball standout Wesley Saunders will get his chance to play his way onto an NBA roster. According to reports from RealGM and SBNation, Saunders will play in the NBA Summer League next month as a member of the Utah Jazz.

Saunders, a three-time All-Ivy League first-teamer and the 2013-2014 Ivy League Player of the Year, was ranked 68th in the rising NBA draft class according to ESPN’s Chad Ford. But Saunders was not among the 60 prospects selected by NBA teams at Thursday’s draft.

According to an interview he gave to Hoops Rumors, Saunders scheduled workouts with the 76ers, Hawks, Clippers, Bulls, Knicks, Bucks, Magic, and Mavericks in the weeks leading up to the draft.

The Jazz were not mentioned, but Saunders will suit up for Salt Lake City in just a matter of weeks nonetheless. Utah will play six games this summer in addition to a tournament at the end of the short season.

The 6’5” wing averaged 16.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game in his senior season, carrying the Crimson to its fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. In his final taste of tournament action, Saunders recorded 26 points and five assists, nearly willing Harvard to an upset over heavily favored North Carolina.

Now as he shifts his attention towards the professional ranks, Saunders has an opportunity very similar to the one that another Crimson basketball standout took advantage of in 2010.

After going undrafted, Jeremy Lin ’10 received an invite to play in the Summer League from the Dallas Mavericks. Then after averaging 9.8 points and 18.6 minutes over four games, Lin earned the attention of the Golden State Warriors, who signed the guard to a deal at the end of July.

All 30 NBA teams will have the opportunity to sign the wing at the conclusion of the summer league. Saunders will get his first chance to make his case on July 6 against the Boston Celtics.

—Check and follow @THCSports for updates.