Harvard has never won an Ivy League title and hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 1946 for a simple reason: a lack of talent. Asked to name the last elite high school prospect to choose the Crimson, an athletic department spokesperson had to go back to
Given that history, it was more than a bit shocking when guard
With scholarship offers from Arkansas, Cal, Maryland, USC, Virginia and a half dozen other big conference schools, Howard is a bona fide blue-chip recruit, a 6-foot-2 point guard ranked the 87th best player in the country by one scouting service. He is the kind of prospect who never used to consider Harvard, and, amazingly, he is not the only one from the Class of 2010.
How did Harvard suddenly get on the radar of some of the nation's best high school players?
The hiring of
Amaker's first recruiting class included two players --
Harvard doesn't award athletic scholarships, and that has long been a sticking point with top recruits. Coaches have had to explain how a mix of grants and financial aid will cover the cost of attending the school. Set next to the full rides being offered by other programs, it was a tough sell. But in 2007 Harvard announced that any incoming student whose family earns less than $60,000 a year would pay no tuition. That simplified the sales pitch.
That change resonated with Howard and his father,
There remains one significant hurdle for Howard (and any recruit eyeing Harvard): the admissions office, loosened admission standards or not. Howard has a 3.6 GPA, and at the request of the school's coaches will take the ACT in the next few months. "I don't want to jinx it. I know it isn't easy, but I believe I can get the score they say I need," he says. "And if I get the score, the coaches say they are 90 percent certain I will be accepted."
People have told Howard that playing in the Ivy League will lessen his chances of making the NBA, and he accepts that as fact. "But I still feel like if you are good enough to play in the NBA you will get your chance," he says. "And a friend of mine noted how [