Harvard, Amaker get assist from Lin

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Tommy Amaker isn't shy.

Since he arrived in the Ivy League five seasons ago, the Duke Blue Devils alum (as a player, assistant coach and associate head coach) and former Seton Hall and Michigan head coach has recruited for the Crimson as if he never left the big leagues.

Though he doesn't have the same advantages as schools that can dangle athletic scholarships (which Ivy League schools don't offer), he hasn't hesitated to recruit high-level athletes. He sells them on his program and on the lifelong benefits of a Harvard degree.

Recruits have bought in. According to ESPN RecruitingNation, Harvard has signed four three-star recruits since 2010, more than the rest of the Ivy League combined (two, one each for Penn and Yale).

"What he was able to do while he was here, [was] kind of establish an identity with this program," Amaker said recently. "Jeremy was as big as any piece of the puzzle for us to start the music."

Jeremy, of course, is Jeremy Lin, the former Harvard star who's become a sensation with the New York Knicks after bursting onto the NBA scene this season as an undrafted, twice-waived free agent.

"He was a joy," his former coach said. "There's no way around it. Jeremy Lin was a special kid here, on and off the floor. He was not only our best player, but he was also our hardest worker. And when you have that combination, you know you have something special. And Jeremy was that and then some."

The Crimson have a signed, framed Lin jersey hanging in the lounge at Lavietes, from his stint with the Golden State Warriors. Amaker has joked that they may need to update that now that Lin is starring in New York City.

Every performance on the big stage at Madison Square Garden raises the profile of the program that produced Lin. And it doesn't hurt for recruits to see Spike Lee courtside in a crimson Harvard jersey.

Will the Crimson get a recruiting boost from Lin?

"Well, we'll find out," Amaker said. "It's so neat to be able to have a player of his stature, his caliber, but also the quality of character that he brings as well. I think the world is finding that out about Jeremy Lin. It's a neat thing."

Showing that Harvard can develop NBA-level talent can only help, ESPN.com senior national recruiting analyst Dave Telep said.

"They can sell that Lin came to Harvard as a nobody and left as a guy who can play professional basketball," Telep said. "I think Harvard has something they may not have had to sell before: 'We walked a guy from start to finish and put him in the NBA.'"

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