Tommy Amaker’s Harvard recruiting pitch
Words. Daniel Marks
In the realm of academics, Harvard is number one. In the world of basketball, Harvard is not as highly recognized. But thanks to a school-record 21 wins last season and having sent one player (Jeremy Lin) to the NBA, head coach Tommy Amaker is striving to take Harvard Basketball places it has never been before. Here, Amaker — a 1983 McDonald’s All-American point guard, All-American collegian at Duke, now in his fourth season coaching Harvard — makes his hypothetical pitch to bring recruits to his growing Ivy League contender:
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To start it off, it is important for us to emphasize that we are not trying to sell anything. We don’t want to use the word sell. We want to be viewed as who we are, and we are presenting an opportunity that we think is the opportunity of a lifetime. A lot of people can clearly say what they are selling and what they are presenting. There are some wonderful places and special opportunities out there, and we think we are included in that very select, elite group. We don’t think anybody can present any more than we can. They might present as much, but we don’t think anyone can present more.
We are talking about presenting the opportunity of a Harvard education and to one day become a Harvard graduate. We really feel that we are building the brand of Harvard Basketball and that is the exciting part of this equation for us. I think it is a foregone conclusion of how tremendous and special it can be for certain kids who can become Harvard students and then Harvard graduates. We understand the magnitude of that. I think that a lot of the kids we are in the ballpark to recruit understand that.
The area we are trying to make them more aware of and express our vision in is Harvard Basketball and the brand of Harvard Basketball that we are building. And that is the part that is so darn exciting. We are the wealthiest school in the country, if not in the world. A lot of people consider us one of the, if not the, most influential and powerful schools in the world. Having said that, the Harvard Basketball component of this school is something that is untapped. We are liking the fact that we have the opportunity to present ourselves, and liking the fact that we can build and grow something in a way that has never been done before here at Harvard. How many times can you think about and focus on what has not been done before on this campus? There are not many things that would end up on that list.
For us to have our program be thought of at a championship level, and as a terrific basketball program here in the Ivy League, is something we want. We want to win our league and go to the NCAA Tournament. We just think there are magical, literally magical, moments and opportunities that can transpire on that journey to get to that point. That is what makes us so unique and different and is so exciting for us every day.
We try to present our thoughts and our vision to young kids and their families who might be interested in something like this. We think that if we get a chance to present who we are, and present our university, the people here and the opportunities that exist with the future of our basketball program, it will open some eyes. To be able to obviously get some kids who see this as something they want to be a part of.
That’s the vision. I think you have to have a vision for what we view in some ways as a startup if you think about it like a business model. We talk about it being buy-low and sell-high, and this is the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something that has the potential to bring monumental dividends. That’s the way we look at it. We think a lot of kids at this time are interested in doing something unique and different, not going down the main street. We feel this is an opportunity for kids to step outside the norm, but yet be exposed to and have the opportunity to be a part of something that is considered the highest honor in all of higher education – which is to attend to Harvard.