Spotlight: Vaunted Underclassmen Lead Men's Basketball Into 2010-11

Pictured (L-R): Christian Webster, Kyle Casey, Dee Giger, Keith Wright (back), Brandyn Curry

Under head coach Tommy Amaker, the Harvard men’s basketball program has set numerous records and notable performances including this year’s program-best 21 wins. While much of the spotlight fell on senior guard Jeremy Lin – a finalist for the John R. Wooden National Player of the Year award – the light will shine even brighter on the Crimson in the coming years behind an impressive collection of young talent.

This year’s sophomore class, including Max Kenyi, Oliver McNally, Andrew Van Nest and Keith Wright, was a national Top-25 recruiting class two years ago. This year’s freshman class meanwhile has been even better with a balanced group of Brandyn Curry, Kyle Casey, Dee Giger and Christian Webster.

The latter group has already prompted one online publication to declare Harvard as the preseason favorite in 2010-11 after going 21-8 overall and 10-4 in the Ivy League.

All told, Harvard’s freshmen combined to score nearly 31 of Harvard’s 74.1 points per game while playing over 93 minutes per game (out of 200). The freshman class shot an astounding 81 percent from the free throw line (238-293) with 186 assists, 46 blocks and 92 steals.

The sophomore class, despite numerous injuries to three of its four players, added 18.3 points per game with Wright owning a team-best 32 blocks and McNally boasting a gaudy assist-to-turnover ratio of 87-to-41.

Casey was named the Ivy’s top rookie or freshman by the league’s coaches, Basketball-U, RushTheCourt and Sporting News. RushTheCourt took another step by naming Casey as the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year after he averaged 10.4 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting the ball 53 percent from the floor, 38 percent from 3-point range and nearly 82 percent from the free throw line.

Curry and Webster joined Casey on RushTheCourt’s All-Freshman team, giving Harvard three of the six mentions. Harvard’s freshmen earned 10 weekly honors from the Ivy League Office with Casey, Curry, Giger and Webster all earning at least one weekly mention.

Curry, meanwhile, earned the Ivy’s rookie of the week honors in each of the last two weeks of the regular season as he showed a distinct ability to work alongside McNally in next year’s backcourt. Curry also pulled down honorable mention status from Basketball-U following a 7.3 point per game average with 93 assists to just 59 turnovers, a .431 3-point shooting mark and a .815 free throw mark. He also ranked second on the team with 37 steals and made a name for himself as a threat to earn a five-second call at any time in the game. 

Webster joined Casey as a notable high school star to choose Harvard over other options with the Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year bringing with him a big-time shooting reputation along with Giger, a 6-foot-6 sniper. Webster started 15 games – the most of any freshman – and averaged 8.8 points on the strength of 88 percent shooting from the free throw line. He did not miss a free throw in Ivy League play and shot 38 percent from long range in league play. In his final game of the season at Appalachian State, Webster went off to the tune of 24 points in 28 minutes on 7-of-8 shooting from floor including all six 3-point attempts.  

Harvard finished the regular season at 21-8 overall and 10-4 in the Ivy League, setting numerous program records including wins (21), non-conference wins (11), home wins (11) and road/neutral wins (10).