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Picture this: the Harvard men's basketball team, having seen a 30-25 halftime lead slip away to Brown, finds itself in need of a big play.
Suddenly, a freshman forward named Kyle Snowden grabs a pass on the baseline, takes a quick step, and whips a dunk into the net--as if there were not a single defender around--to spark the team to victory.
The star freshman has been making these sort of plays all season.
Thus far, he has won five Ivy League Rookies of the Week, and is the reigning Co-Player of the Week, averaging 11.2 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game and 55.7 field goal percentage.
His rebounding average and field-goal percentage are both third in the league.
"I never though that it would happen like this," a chuckling Snowden said of his extraordinary freshman hardcout experience this season. "I don't know what to say about it."
His body language shows it, too. During post-game interviews, Snowden glances around back and forth, as if he is looking for someone.
His body fidgets around, tapping his feet rhythmically on the ground. But when asked about his own play, Snowden shyly smiles and looks down to the floor, feeling undeserving of his accolades.
"My [teammates] make it easy for me," Snowden says. "I owe it all to the support of my teammates.
"If you had told me over the summer that I would be starting, I would have thought that you were crazy."
With each new accomplishment, the young freshman feels more and more awed.
Snowden grew up in Milton, Massachusetts, and attended the Thayer Academy.
There he distinguished himself by winning the 1993 Ward S. Donner Prize for Athletics, Scholarship, and Character. On the court, he turned some heads by being named on the All-Independent Team by the Boston Globe.
However, Snowden was not the go-to guy on the Thayer team.
"I was in sort of a shadow in high school," he says. "There was another guy that is now at UMass [that was the star]. I was never known to make the big play."
Which makes this season's turn of events all the more surprising. A freshman, for essentially the first time in his life, being the crunch-time player? Who would believe it?
The basketball team obviously doesn't mind it. Almost halfway through the Ivy League schedule, Harvard Coach Frank Sullivan has expressed no reservations about Snowden.
"Midway through the season, [Snowden] has shown that he is one of the best freshmen in the league," Sullivan said.
And by no means has Snowden let his fame get him nervous. Just as strongly as he holds his ego in check, Snowden does not act awed on the court as he does off it. He plays like there is no reason to worry, as if he was just having fun.
He showed this attitude best during the fall practices, treating his first taste of college ball like it was nothing big.
"I had no idea what to expect [this year during tryouts]," Snowden said. "I treated it like it wasn't a big step, and the coaches were happy with me."
This happy-go-lucky attitude comes out in Snowden when he talks about the team in general. Princeton and Pennsylvania do not seem like titans to him, no matter how many times in a row that they have beaten Harvard.
"They are great teams, [but] I know that we're not far away from putting ourselves in the upper echelon," Snowden says.
And so Snowden takes this frame of mind into the rest of the season. This weekend the Crimson travel to Cornell and then Columbia, and the sky is the limit for Snowden.
"We need to win both games," he says. "[We need] to finish at the top of the league, and gain some momentum for the rest of the season."
He is like a painter that attacks the canvas with fun and excitement, and is then embarrassed to learn that he has created a masterpiece.
It is hard to tell how close to the top Harvard will finish this year, but no matter what, Snowden will be back again next year, striving to be the best and making the big play when needed. Because of that alone, the Crimson's future promises to be bright.
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