Male Breakout Player of the Year: Steve Mondou-Missi

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The idea came to him last summer when he was playing with the Cameroonian national team.

He noticed the older players enjoying everything about the demanding practices, even the suicides.

Before, Moundou-Missi got through lifting sessions and late-night problem sets by thinking about how it would help him win an Ivy League title or pass a final. Now, he is just trying to enjoy the process.

His national team teammates taught him to live in the moment, and Moundou-Missi has had some good ones to live in since.

The junior scored 23 points against Bryant back in November and had 20 against Denver a week later. Sophomore Moundou-Missi never scored 20 points in a game. But Moundou-Missi says his best game came at Columbia on Valentine’s Day, a 22-point outburst that he credited to a lack of thought.

“Early in the game, I was struggling and then I found a rhythm,” Moundou-Missi said. “It was one of the few games where I felt like I couldn’t miss.”

Moundou-Missi made his greatest strides this year at the free-throw line, where he exchanged contemplation of what might happen if he missed for confidence. That helped him go from a 70-percent shooter to 76-percent shooter, second on the team to co-captain Laurent Rivard.

When Moundou-Missi returns to Cameroon, even relatives strugge to recognize him as the 180-pound boy that left for America years ago. People think he’s joking when he says he goes to Harvard. Telling them that the quiet kid they knew is now the face of Crimson basketball probably does not help convince anyone.

After the 2013-2014 season ended, Moundou-Missi was voted a captain by his teammates.

He said it’s an honor, especially given how he struggled to fit in with his team in high school and even when he started at Harvard.

But, he added, taking more responsibility in the locker room as a senior—it’s really just another step.

—Staff writer Jacob D. H. Feldman can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JacobFeldman4.