Big Visit Weekend & Commit Signal Harvard’s Arrival as a National Recruiting Player

27 Sep

By Brian Flinn
National Hoops Report

When you think of programs that can recruit consistently at a national level while bringing in talented players a few schools come to mind. Kentucky, Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Arizona, and more recently St.Johns, Florida, and Ohio State have all been able to draw top talent from all around the country to their programs.

While they aren’t going after quite the same talent level, schools such as Xavier, Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, Butler and Gonzaga have been quietly expanding their recruiting territory to a more national stage over the past decade or so, causing the line between mid and high major to become more blurred than ever.

There is a new program that is attempting to join the elite mid-majors and take the next step towards becoming a top non-BCS program in their own right – Harvard.

Yes, Harvard is the latest in a long line of programs that is attempting to become nationally relevant on the hardwood, and the first part of that is assembling the talent to be able to do so.

This weekend was a major step forward for the Crimson program after they had 2012 standouts Mike Hall, Siyani Chambers, and Zena Edosamwan all on campus along with 2013 top 50 prospects Brannen Greene,Stephen Domingo, Davon Reed, and Austin Colbert. Not only did coach Tommy Amaker and company have talented prospects on campus, but players from California to Georgia as well. Greene said that he can see himself at Harvard, and Hall committed after the visit.

So what is making Harvard a national player all of the sudden? Well with the new coaching staff, led by Amaker, and with relentless and likable recruiters such as Yanni Hufnagel it is easy to see the draw to the Ivy League program.

Harvard has made a point to go after the top kids who are serious about their education and so far it has paid off, most notably with the 2012 class. Hall has joined another talented forward in Evan Cummins. The real indicator if Harvard is ready to recruit on the big stage is if they can land one or more of the 2013 players they just had on campus. Colbert and Reed are AAU teammates and close friends, so if one ends up at Harvard it wouldn’t be surprising to see the other go there as well. As mentioned before, Greene is seriously considering the Crimson, and Hufanagel has been hard after the talented Georgia forward.

Some of the Ivy League schools have a problem with Harvard lowering it’s academic standards to accommodate some of the more talented players in the past couple of seasons, but it is only a minor change that still places Harvard’s standards well above the minimum that the Ivy League demands. If you look at some of the most talented teams this season you will find a couple that are not far behind Harvard academically.

Duke is a prestigious institution as well as Vanderbilt and both are top programs in the country; what is to stop Harvard from reaching that level?

The short answer is nothing. There is clearly something special beginning up in Cambridge and top players around the country are starting to take notice. Mike Hall had no plan to commit anytime soon before he visited Harvard and now he’s potentially the centerpiece to this year’s class. This weekend was just the start of what’s to come for the Crimson, no matter what complaints their Ivy League counterparts might make.

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