After a disappointing fourth-place Ivy League finish in 2016, the Harvard men’s basketball team showed why pundits think it is on the fast track back to the top of the league Wednesday, finishing with ESPN’s No. 10 recruiting class of the season. It is the first time an Ivy League team has ever cracked the top 25 of the recruiting rankings.
The Crimson cracked the top 20 on the strength of one of the largest and deepest recruiting classes in the nation. Harvard had seven recruits in the class, which matched Mississippi State (ranked No. 5 overall) for the most in the nation. Kentucky, which led the rankings, was the only other school with six or more prospects.
In addition to size, Harvard boasted a deep recruiting class that had four members of the ESPN top 100. The Crimson had assembled the class over the entirety of 2015, starting with the addition of power forward Chris Lewis (No. 68 overall) in January 2015. Lewis, the son of former New York Jets player Mo Lewis, was the highest ranked recruit ever to pick Harvard.
Lewis’ signing kicked off a trail of ensuing decisions. Five months later, small forward Seth Towns committed to Harvard, marking the first time the Crimson had ever received two top-100 recruits in the same season. Robert Baker Jr. and Bryce Aiken, four-star recruits from Georgia and New Jersey, respectively, committed during the late summer and early fall to bring the class together. All three players finished towards the bottom of the top 100, but their recruiting score was a single point lower than Lewis’.
Harvard’s success was atypical in the Ivy League, which did not enjoy a large recruiting haul outside of the Crimson. Two-time defending champion Yale receives a single three-star in 2016, South Carolina native Jordan Bruner. While Princeton brought in two three star recruits, the Tigers could not match the Crimson in either size (three total players) or depth (their best player ranked eight points worse than the Crimson’s best).
How each of the recruits will become involved in the framework of the team is unclear. The team faces a glut at the point guard position behind captains Siyani Chambers and Corbin Miller and last year’s starter Tommy McCarthy. Harvard coach Tommy Amaker could not offer any guidance on Aiken’s position before the end of the season. Lewis will likewise face a crowded big man rotation, needing to stand out alongside second-team All-Ivy Zena Edosomwan to find success.
—Staff writer David Freed can be reached at email@example.com.