Three years in the past, Mike Smith and Seth Cities had been taking part in in opposition to one another within the Ivy League. Final week, these two made fairly an impression on quarterfinal day within the Massive Ten Match.
Smith, a switch from Columbia, had 18 factors and 15 assists to steer Michigan over Maryland. Then Cities, a former Harvard star, made an enormous 3-pointer in time beyond regulation to assist Ohio State outlast Purdue.
“Lots of people within the Ivy League get seemed down on. You’re quote-unquote solely there for teachers. However we’ve gamers that may play,” Smith stated that day. “Not solely at the moment however all through the season, we’ve proven that Ivy League guys can play.”
There aren’t any Ivy League groups within the postseason this yr — the convention referred to as off its season due to the coronavirus pandemic — however the league remains to be being represented within the NCAA Match on each the boys’s and girls’s sides. Among the nation’s high groups have Ivy grad transfers making vital contributions, which is one other indication of how a lot the convention has improved in recent times on the basketball courtroom.
Along with Smith and Cities, Yale’s Jordan Bruner is now at Alabama and Harvard’s Katie Benzan performs at Maryland. Benzan obtained honorable point out All-America honors this week.
Smith got here to Michigan after main the Ivy in scoring common as a senior. The 5-foot-11 guard has began each sport this season for the top-seeded Wolverines. They don’t want him to shoot as a lot as he did at Columbia, however he’s adjusted simply fantastic, topping the Massive Ten in assists per sport.
Cities was the Ivy participant of the yr in 2018, however he missed the following two seasons due to damage issues. He’s been a task participant at Ohio State, however his minutes went up through the Massive Ten Match, and he scored a season-high 12 factors in that win over Purdue.
Bruner performed for Ivy championship groups at Yale in 2019 and 2020, then transferred to Alabama. The 6-foot-10 ahead has handled knee issues however has been taking part in recurrently since returning final month.
“He shoots it nicely, he handles it nicely, he passes it nicely. His talent stage is excessive,” Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats stated. “He’s received a presence about him. I feel he’s actually helped our seniors that had been already right here.”
There’s all the time an adjustment for any switch. Now that he’s at Michigan, Smith’s playmaking is commonly extra necessary than his scoring. Benzan’s function has modified, too, after she performed level guard at Harvard. Ashley Owusu is there to deal with that at Maryland.
“Coach (Brenda) Frese nonetheless needs me to be that vocal chief on the courtroom that I used to be, so there are a number of similarities between my two roles,” Benzan stated. “However the main distinction is that I’ve the liberty to focus extra on my shot within the sense of being a pure shooter.”
And shoot she has. Benzan has made 50.6% of her 3-point makes an attempt this season, the highest mark within the nation.
The Ivy has quietly made strides over the previous decade or so. Since 2010, the boys’s groups at Cornell, Harvard and Yale have all received within the NCAA Match. Princeton’s ladies did too in 2015.
In 2019, Yale junior Miye Oni was an early entry into the NBA draft and was taken within the second spherical. Final yr, Princeton’s Bella Alarie was the fifth decide within the WNBA draft. Earlier this month, former Princeton star Devin Cannady earned MVP honors within the G League Finals.
So if one of many high Ivy gamers turns into accessible as a grad switch, it’s not stunning to see curiosity from main packages.
“Once we focused Bruner because the No. 1 grad switch we wished to get, there was quite a bit that went into it,” Oats stated. “Simply our fashion of play being one, his talent stage as an enormous. The extra I studied his movie deeper, it was much more of a match than what I initially thought.”
Benzan stated she’s nonetheless pleasant with Cities and Bryce Aiken, one other former Harvard standout who simply missed the NCAA Match this yr with Seton Corridor.
“I’m nice buddies with each Bryce and Seth, and particularly Seth being within the Massive Ten too. We received to see one another once I went to Ohio State, when he got here to Maryland. We sustain with one another’s successes,” she stated. “I really need Seth to win all of it on the boys’s aspect.”
The large query for the Ivy is what is going to occur when play resumes there. Will the league be capable of decide up the place it left off earlier than lacking this season?
For now, gamers like Smith have to hold the torch to a point. He stated he nonetheless hears loads from his former teammates.
“They congratulate me on a regular basis, win or lose,” Smith stated. “This season’s simply not for me and my household, however it’s for them as nicely, as a result of they aren’t on the market to play for themselves.”
AP Sports activities Author John Zenor contributed to this report.
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