Edosomwan reclassifies, commits to Harvard

Zena Edosomwan

No Scout.com Top 100 prospect has ever chosen an Ivy League school. Until now. Zena Edosomwan has changed that, and to do it, he reclassified from 2012 to 2013.

In one hour, it will be announced that Harvard will appear in an NCAA tournament bracket for the first time since 1946, making March 11, 2012, a milestone day for the Ivy League program.

In more ways than one.

Zena Edosomwan, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound power forward from North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake, has made a commitment to Harvard, marking the first time a Scout.com Top 100 prospect has ever committed to an Ivy League school.

What may make Edosomwan's potentially trailblazing decision most impressive is that the 2012 prospect has chosen to reclassify to 2013 and attend a year of prep school at Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.), giving himself the best chance of gaining admission into Harvard.

Scout.com's 72nd ranked 2012 prospect - who has grown an inch this season and continues to boost his stock nationally - not only wanted to be the first Scout.com Top 100 prospect to choose Harvard, but getting into the college was so important he decided he would take another year to get there.

"It's the best school in the world," says Edosomwan.

Heading into his junior year of high school, Edosomwan was just hoping for the opportunity to play college basketball at all. He was 6-foot-6 with no scholarship offers and while he showed potential as a player, he was undersized for the power forward position.

However, Edosomwan continued to get taller and expand his game, and within a year and a half held scholarship offers from 40 different colleges, including finalists Harvard, UCLA, USC, California, Texas and Washington.

He turned down scholarships from 39 of them to attend Harvard, which due to Ivy League rules doesn't offer scholarships to athletes. He wouldn't let that fact stand in the way.

"I had other schools but this is my dream and I just believe in that coaching staff so much that it wasn't necessarily that hard," Edosomwan said.

"I tried to imagine myself anywhere else, and I couldn't see myself being anywhere but Harvard with coach (Tommy) Amaker and coach (Yanni) Hufnagel and the great teammates I'll have there. It's the opportunity of a lifetime."

Leading the way in helping Edosomwan have the confidence to make such a bold decision were Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker and assistant Yanni Hufnagel.

"Coach Amaker and coach Huff are not just great coaches but great people," Edosomwan said. "They were so supportive with me in everything. They really reemphasized that it was about my calling as a person; it wasn't just about basketball. It was about me discovering myself, evolving and making an impact on the world."

There were obstacles that Harvard had to overcome in its recruitment of Harvard. First of all, there was the perception that Ivy League basketball players didn't have much of a chance of making the NBA.

The success story of Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin with the New York Knicks came at the perfect time.

"A lot of people discredit the Ivy League and say it's not a competitive league, but Jeremy Lin has shown that you can go to the best school in the world and have a great NBA career and be successful," Edosomwan said.

"He's really helped me reinforce my dreams of being in the NBA and being successful. It's possible. Jeremy Lin has given me hope that everything is possible at Harvard."

Beyond NBA success, heading into the season, Harvard was still proving itself as a basketball program that could compete against the best nationally and make the NCAA tournament.

26 victories, an Ivy League championship and a guaranteed admission into the NCAA tournament later, and Edosomwan feels confident about the future of Harvard's program.

His goal is to be the first of several Top 100 prospects to join him at Harvard.

"With what they've done this year and will continue to do, I think players will continue to see they can have the best of both worlds at Harvard," he says.

"You can have an elite basketball program and also get the best education that this world has to offer. Hopefully me deciding to go there will pave the way for other players to take that chance and be brave enough to say, 'I'm going to do it too.'"

Reclassifying to 2013 and attending head coach John Carroll's Mount Hermon program will give Edosomwan the chance to continue to grow as a player while preparing for his freshman season of college.

"I think it's a great opportunity for me to really grow as a person and a player, and really just evolve," Edosomwan said. "I'll be bigger, faster, stronger, add more skills and I'll be able to make a big impact my freshman of college.

"I'm legitimately 6-foot-9 now with my shoes off - I've grown another inch - and I can work on my post up game, my face up game and my handle. It's a different size of player in college and I'll be in a better position when I get to Harvard."

It's been a stressful year for Edosomwan, who spent the last several months choosing between making the safe decision of accepting a college scholarship from one of the several high level programs who had offered him or taking a path that no Scout.com Top 100 prospect has ever taken before.

Now that he's made his decision, that weight is finally off his shoulders.

"I'm the happiest I've ever been and finally at peace now," Edosomwan said. "I was contemplating how I had worked all of my life to get to this point and have these scholarship offers to great programs, and now I'm turning them all down to go to Harvard.

"But I'm thinking 40 years down the line. This is a decision that will impact me when I'm no longer playing basketball. I want to pave the way for others, like my brother and sister, to dream big and never settle for anything but the best."

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