On a day where Harvard was already celebrating their NCAA Tournament bid, they got even more good news as class of 2013 power forward Zena Edosomwan committed, making him one of the highest rated prospects to choose the Crimson in recent memory.
“I really enjoyed my visit, I love the coaching staff and the people there, the city and the history, the academics and everything they’ve accomplished this year,” Edosomwan said.
“Jeremy Lin also influenced it a little bit,” Edosoman added laughing. “When it comes to people like Jeremy Lin, he shows that you don’t have to let what school you go to end up deciding how far you go. You can make it to the highest level and I think anything is possible there. I can have the best of both worlds.”
In addition to the ‘Linsanity’ factor, the 6’9 big man was also heavily impacted by his initial visit to Harvard. Prior to his trip to Boston, the Crimson was a program where he didn’t see himself going.
“Honestly, at first, Harvard was definitely not a school I would have gone to,” Edosomwan said. ”I had all these high-major schools offer me and didn’t think I’d go [to Harvard] but my relationship with [assistant] coach [Yanni] Hufnagel, the players there – I related really well with them – and just the city itself is so historic. I just fell in love with Boston, it’s a beautiful place.
“I really like the city, as soon as we drove into the city it was just ‘wow.’ It was just really beautiful, it was something different from California and the whole vibe of the city really impressed me. As soon as I drove into the city and saw the little river by it, I just told myself, ‘wow, this place is cool.’”
The fact that he loves Boston so much made it easier for him to decide to leave the warm confines of North Hollywood and go to college on the opposite side of the country.
“I can’t lie, I’m spoiled here in California with this really good weather,” Edosomwan said. ”Waking up to 35 degrees isn’t going to be that cool but it’s something I’ll get use to it. If that’s what I have to do to go to Harvard, I’ll definitely do it. I can suck it up.”
However, it did end up being a tough decision for the California-native after he previously narrowed down his list of schools to six: Harvard, Texas, UCLA, USC, California and Washington. Although, the recent success of the Crimson in addition to his recruiting trip made the decision easy for him.
“When I narrowed my list down those were all absolutely amazing schools but I absolutely loved Harvard after my visit and my relationship with the coaches is really strong,” Edosomwan said. ”They really made me believe in myself to make this big step.”
He also has a response for potential critics who disagree with his decision to go to a mid-major school when numerous high-majors offered him.
“I would tell them that my relationship with the coaching staff is a very big deal. I’m very comfortable with them and it’s Harvard, it’s the top school in the world,” Edosomwan said.
He thinks Harvard’s success this season will make his decision more understandable to outsiders, too.
“Beating Florida State and winning that pre-season tournament, it’s really been a historic season,” Edosomwan said. ”If I would have committed their six months ago, people would have said ‘this kid’s an idiot.’ Now, they’re on the rise and people respect the decision more. With Jeremy Lin and the perfect timing everything really worked out well.”
Along with the announcement of his commitment to Harvard, Edosomwan also stated his intent to re-classify from the class of 2012 to the class of 2013. He’ll be making the move from Harvard-Westlake School (California) to Northfield Mount Hermon School (Massachusetts), a prep school.
“The decision [to go to prep school] put me in a better situation with Harvard,” Edosomwan said. ”Northfield allows me to go up against top-notch talent and prepare myself so when I get to college I can compete and make a huge impact as a freshman and dominate. I want to take Harvard to new heights.
“The way [head] coach [John] Carroll runs the program – he does a great job and it’s very college-like. We’ll be playing other talent prep schools and other consistently tough competition. By me getting used to playing against big bodies, I think I can really grow and make an impact [at Harvard] as a freshman.”
It will also give him the opportunity to develop his game and improve on some of his weaknesses. Among his goals at Northfield are to improve his versatility and become more of a physical presence in the paint.
“I want to get stronger, faster and improve my handles,” Edosomwan said. ”I want to score more, adding an inside-out presence. I think being 6’9 with an inside-out ability would be a dangerous combination.”
This extra year will give Edosomwan some time to recruit other top talents to Harvard as well. He has a lot of big names he intends to talk to and hopes he’ll be able to convince some of them to join him.
“I’m trying to get [class of 2013 small forward] Stephen Domingo and a couple of other guys to come to Harvard,” he said. ”I’m going to try to take the most talented players and make something special at Harvard. That’s the goal.”
All in all, Edosomwan is very happy with his choice. With this momentous decision looming over him, he’s happy to get it over it. He’s able to relax and focus on what’s really important to him – basketball.
“I’m unbelievable happy, my mind is at peace,” Edosomwan said. ”I’ve been stressed out the last couple of months with college and recruiting but everything worked out well and I can breathe now. I can concentrate on basketball now, what’s most important to me.”