I apologize for the lack of posts over the weekend, as it was spent visiting family and watching other levels of basketball/the Super Bowl. Ordinarily, both the NBA and the NFL come secondary to college basketball in my book, but I made an exception this week due to some extraordinary circumstances. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, Harvard grad and first American of Chinese/Taiwanese Jeremy Lin has taken New York and the entire nation by storm, coming out of nowhere to put up 53 points in two games while catalyzing the Knick offense. So… why the mention on Zotcubed?
Imagine if Lin had played his college career with the Anteaters instead of the Crimson! With the Asian-American population at UC Irvine, Lin could have revolutionized Anteater basketball and the amount of support UCI would have received, game in and game out. When Harvard and UCI squared off in the 07-08 season, a sophomore Lin lit UCI up for 20 points and 13 rebounds, playing 43 minutes in an overtime duel. A strong UCI team backed by Darren Fells and Patrick Sanders pulled out the win, but it’s clear that Lin’s talents could have been used in Irvine. Instead of Michael Hunter (with no offense to Hunter’s solid career at UCI), the Anteaters could have featured Lin.
So the question is… was that even a possibility? Did UCI blow it with their recruiting? Or did Lin simply not have interest? Despite the often-emphasized part of Lin’s story that he received “no D-I athletic scholarship offers” out of high school, and thus chose to go to Harvard, (which recruited him but offers no athletic scholarships), I’m actually inclined that the latter scenario was the more likely case.
Since Lin is a Norcal native, it seems fishy that with his gaudy prep accolades, that NO ONE in the Big West would have offered him a scholarship. UCLA was his dream school, and they only wanted him as a walk-on. Lin also sent his tapes to Cal and Stanford, which similarly resulted in no offers. But after those rejections, it’s likely that Lin preferred Harvard over scholarship offers from a Big West school.
A former UCI assistant coach during the time of Lin’s recruitment year confirmed that Lin was indeed on UCI’s recruiting radar. It seems that Lin (and his parents), the editor of his high school paper, still valued a top-notch education alongside a basketball career. In other words, all the “underdog” and “overlooked” talk of Lin not receiving a D-I scholarship offer may be slightly exaggerated. I could be wrong. It could be true that the Asian-American basketball player prejudice/stereotype is really so strong that they would miss someone who captained their high school team to a 32-1 record, upsetting nationally ranked Mater Dei for the CIF Div. II state title. I’m not 100 percent sure about the details of his recruiting process.
I just hope that next time someone with Lin’s all-around game slips through the cracks of the west coast big dogs, UCI will be there, snapping them up. A UCI grad with a story as memorable as Lin’s making waves in the NBA would be huge for fan support for years to come. It would legitimize Anteater hoops for all of those students who love the Lakers and are fans of the sport but couldn’t even tell you what conference UCI played in (or even worse, don’t know that the Anteaters play D-I ball). It would be interesting to see what would happen with just one Norris Cole (Cleveland State), one Stephen Curry (Davidson), or one Jeremy Lin suiting up in Anteater blue and gold.