3 Players standing out in the Ivy League - 12-16-09
More than a decade ago, a balanced Princeton team cracked the top-10 in the nation's AP Poll. Since that 1997-98 season, the Ivy League has played a very minor role within the ranks of college basketball. That Tigers team was the last Ivy League team to win an NCAA Tournament game, beating 12th ranked UNLV in the first round before bowing out to #4 seed, Michigan State in the round of 32. However, this season, nearly 12 years later, the Ivy League is making some noise.
This past week Cornell, the two-time defending champion in the Ivy League, received three votes in the AP Poll, placing them in a tie at #46 in the nation. Not that that news will warrant Cornell getting a top seed on Selection Sunday in March, but three Ivy League players are making quite the impression in out-of-conference play with a few NBA scouts and front offices. NBA-Draft.com will take a deeper look into these three standouts:
Jeremy Lin, Harvard
Lin, the 6'3" Crimson Point Guard is probably the highest rated and the most recognized of the Ivy League trio. In January of last year, Lin exploded onto the national scene, in an upset win over Boston College and its star Guard Tyrese Rice. Lin finished with 27 points (11-16 FG, 3-4 from 3-point range), 8 assists and 6 steals. That game was part of a 16-game streak when Lin scored in double-figures, but Harvard was not able to capitalize, entertaining an 8-8 record (In fact, Lin scored in double figures in 27 of Harvard's 28 games last season). But the Guard is back in full-force this season, scoring 30 points against a nationally ranked UConn squad, while also chipping in 9 rebounds and 3 assists. He followed that game up with another upset win at Boston College, scoring 25 points. Behind Lin, the Crimson could challenge Cornell for the league title in 2009-10 and the Point Guard's draft stock could soar with his success.
Ryan Wittman, Cornell
Ryan Wittman is the son of former NBA Head Coach and current Washington Wizards Assistant, but the 6'6" junior is making a name for himself at Cornell. He led Cornell to back-to-back Ivy League titles in the past two seasons and thrived off of playing BCS conference schools- averaging 27.3 points and six 3-pointers made per game against Indiana, Syracuse and Minnesota in 2008-09 and leading the Big Red to an upset win at Alabama behind Wittman's 23 point performance earlier this season. Maybe this Guard/Forward doesn't have the prototypical or desired athleticism that most NBA players have, but he can sure shoot better than the majority. He could be a late second round pick in the 2010 NBA Draft or a nice addition to a team via free agency after the Draft.
Noruwa Agho, Columbia
Not many would expect the nation's best distance shooter to come from the Ivy League, but Agho leads all college players by hitting 29 out of 45 3-point attempts- 64.4%. The Columbia Lions lead all 347 Divison I teams by hitting an astonishing 47.3% of their outside shots. This 6'3" Guard has great shot selection, but also sets up his long-range shooting by keeping defenders off guard with his potential dribble-drive or slashing through the lane. He scored 23 points against Bucknell earlier this season, finishing 7-8 from distance and added 22 in game at Syracuse by hitting 4-7 3-point shots. With Conference play right around the corner, will Agho continue his scorching streak or will the Ivys be able to slow him down?