Quite a few fellows Floyd Lewis knew in his high school days in Washington, D. C. have moved on to play college sports in the big-time. Most have received tokens of their schools' appreciation-one or two own cars and another guy receives a regular salary in return for making sure the football stadium isn't stolen.
Lewis could have had all this and more. An All-American high school basketball player, he received more than 125 scholarship offers. Most coaches promised him more than a paid monthly laundry bill.
Lewis turned them down and came to Harvard. He credits last year's Crimson captain Ernie Hardy as being instrumental in the decision. "I had a list of five schools: UCLA, Michigan, Harvard, Maryland, and Penn, Ernie was the one who led me to pick Harvard," he said.
According to Ivy League rules, the coaches are not permitted to make the first overture to a prospective high school athlete. Thus it was Hardy who traveled to Lewis's home and talked with him. And when Lewis came to visit Harvard, Hardy showed him around.
Lewis was considerably impressed with the Harvard basketball program being built by Coach Harrison, the type of style the school embodied, and, as far as education is concerned, "the name Harvard speaks for itself."
In his freshman year, Lewis teamed with fellow Washingtonian James Brown to fashion a 17-2 record and bring an exciting run-shoot style of basketball that the Harvard community had never before witnessed.
This year, he was switched from his natural center position to forward. "Coach Harrison told me last year that if I had any aspirations to play pro ball. I would have to go to forward." Lewis explained, "and I want to try pro ball."
Lewis admits that the adjustment to forward has been a problem for him- "It's different having your back to the basket at center." But he feels that he's able to move a bit more along the baseline without the ball and that this is helping his scoring.
Although he sees a possible future in the professional ranks, Lewis believes that his Harvard degree will help him to assert himself in any career. An economics major, he hopes to go into "either business or law school if I don't make it in the pros."
The basketball team, highly touted in the pre-season forecast, has had its ups and downs. Three players have decided to quit the team. Certainly the mediocre record and personnel attrition has had its effect on team morale.
"The guys who quit had good reasons, I'm sure," he said. "Still, the spirit on the team is high and then again there's next year."
Next year, of course, Lewis, Brown, et, al. will have a season of varsity experience behind them. With the addition of Tony Jenkins from the freshman team and transfer Jim Fitzsimmons from Duke, the prospects could be staggering. "Fitzsimmons has an incredible shot." Lewis said.
Lewis is moved by few things. But when you mention Muhammad Ali to him, he gets excited. "I have a great deal of respect for that man," he said. "He had the courage to sacrifice his life's dream for his beliefs."
Although next season is many months away, Lewis is wasting no time in preparing for the year. This summer, Lewis and Brown will be working on the same job in the Washington park district. "We hope to have Marshall Saunders around too. We may get to play a little basketball."