Harvard basketball has recently taken another turn in the national spotlight—this time for all the wrong reasons. A whirlwind of commentary and debate have followed the high-profile withdrawals of the team’s two captains, Kyle Casey ’13 and Brandon Curry ’13, who were both implicated in the widespread cheating scandal of last spring. In the wake of their departures, some have raised questions about the role of athletics at Harvard, while others have noted the now muted enthusiasm for a team that captured the campus’s attention and brought rare athletic pride and excitement to the University less than six months ago.
But don’t be fooled—this is not the death of Harvard basketball as we knew it. In fact, Tommy Amaker and Co. have ample reason to be excited for the future, so long as a few key decisions go their way.
As two Crimson columnists discussed, Harvard’s expectations for the 2012-13 season ought to be tempered given it will arguably be losing its two most important players. But a little speculation further into the future reveals undeniable potential for a return to the top.
If Casey and Curry are permitted to return to the team after year-long stints off-campus (and, of course, assuming they choose to do so), the Crimson could assemble one of the strongest Ivy-League rosters in recent memory for the 2013-14 season. Curry, whose heady play and offensive command landed him on the second All-Ivy team last season, would be reassuming his role at the point. Casey would return to the frontcourt, presumably still a frontrunner for the Ivy League Player of the Year Award just as he was before the scandal.
You can add to the mix four-star power forward recruit Zena Edosomwan, who has verbally committed to Harvard and would join the team just in time for Curry and Casey’s return if all goes according to plan.
And then, of course, there are the underclassmen on the current roster who will have a further year of collegiate experience. We can still expect to see sharpshooter Laurent Rivard ’14 knocking shots down fromthe wing, and the Crimson would enjoy a truly balanced offensive attack if sophomore Wes Saunders continues to emerge as a bona fide scorer. Throw in the depth provided by current sophomores Steve Moundou-Missi, Jonah Travis, and Kenyatta Smith and Harvard looks like the hands-down favorite to win the Ivy League.
Of course, all of this is speculation; the 2013-14 season is a long way off. There is no guarantee that Casey and Curry will be back, and the current team is undoubtedly concerned exclusively with the task in front of it. While this has been an undeniable setback for Harvard basketball, it is far from a decimation. Perhaps once high expectations for the upcoming season have shrunk, but the program’s future is far from bleak, and there is no indication that the magic of last spring was merely an aberration.