They call him Mister Bibbs
Tai Bibbs of West Chicago High School committed to Columbia Friday following a visit to the school between March 26 and 28. The Lions had previously given Bibbs and offer before he signed to Drake. After Drake’s coach resigned, Bibbs was given his release and Columbia won out over Dartmouth, Lafayette, Fordham, Rice, Cal-Davis, Loyola, New Mexico State, Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne and Toledo. The 6′ 3″ two-star combo guard, who was named the captain of the Chicago Daily Herald DuPage All-Area Boys Basketball Team, averaged 26.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals a game, while connecting on 74 made three-pointers and 77 percent of his free throws. Bibbs, who follows Mike Smith to Columbia from the Land of Lincoln, is another strong addition to a Lions recruiting class that already has Jaron Faulds, Gabriele Stefanini, Randall Brumant, Myles Hanson and Jake Klores.
In time for the conclusion of Women’s History Month and the Women’s NCAA Tournament, the Human Rights Campaign discussed five LGBTQ players and coaches who have courageously chosen to be open and authentic in their sexual identity. One of these athletes is Cornell senior Nicholle Aston. The suburban Los Angeles native ended her Big Red basketball career in the top 16 in field-goal percentage, made field goals, points, total rebounds, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, blocks, games played and games started. More importantly, though, has been her volunteer work as Education and Advocacy Intern at Cornell’s LGBT Resource Center and President of the school’s chapter of Athlete Ally. With the support of coaches, teammates and allies, Aston has grown into a leader on and off the court, making the entire East Hill community a stronger and more accepting place.
The Big Green Knight
Chris Knight, an incoming Dartmouth first-year, was named the Big Eight Conference, Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com and ESPN Prep Mania All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year. The 6′ 8″ two-star power forward, who turned 17 in November, averaged 15.5 points and 8.3 rebounds a game, while shooting 57.3 percent from the field. Knight’s strengths are in his defensive intensity, anchoring the team’s 1-3-1 zone, and rebounding. His coach Steve Collins, a Dartmouth grad, told the Wisconsin State Journal, “I really believe that Chris can become a dominate player in the Ivy League. As he expands his game and becomes both a perimeter and post player, he will be very hard to defend. Chris is one of the best defenders and rim protectors I have coached. He is a very young senior, but his knowledge and willingness to work hard will make his ceiling very high. I have no doubt that Chris is going to be very successful on and off the court.”
Amaker headed for … Kentucky, along with rest of Crimson
Perhaps the biggest news for Harvard was the selection of Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing to coach Georgetown. As the Hoya search continued into Final Four weekend and several high major coaches dropped out of play, Crimson coach Tommy Amaker became a more likely candidate. However, Georgetown Athletic Director Lee Reed and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (captain of the 1961-62 Hoya basketball team) went into the school’s past and chose the school’s greatest player to take over the slumping Big East program. Whether the rumor that Amaker actually turned Georgetown down was true or not, the return of No. 33 to his D.C. alma mater is a big win for Harvard and the entire Ivy League.
On Wednesday, Jon Rothstein tweeted that the Harvard men’s team will make a trip to Rupp Arena to take on Kentucky during the 2017-18 season. The Crimson will be the first Ancient Eight school to take on Kentucky since Columbia put a scare into the then-No. 1 Wildcats in December 2014. Even with the loss of several starters to the NBA, the Wildcats are the favorites to win the NCAA Tournament next season. Hopefully, they’ll be able to find referees to work the game.
Incoming Harvard first-year Rachel Levy was named the Palm Beach Post’s Large School Girls Basketball Co-Player of the Year for the second straight year. Levy, who led her Boca Raton High School team to its first ever state title, averaged 14.5 points and 7.0 rebounds a game. The 6’ 3” forward was recruited by several Ivy League teams, as well as Division I programs that offered full scholarships. In August, Levy told the Post why she decided to focus on the Ancient Eight programs, “(Scholarships were) a factor, definitely, in my decision. But at the end of the day, for a kid like me, it was more about academics. Having the opportunity to go to an Ivy League would trump a full scholarship to a school that’s not as highly recognized as an Ivy League.” As she communicated with the different schools over her sophomore and junior year, the in-depth conversations and relationships she developed with the Harvard coaching staff sold her on the Crimson.
A reunion at Rice
Senior forward Dylan Jones will be completing his degree this spring and then going to Rice as a graduate transfer. Jones, who grew up in Houston, will be reunited with former Penn assistant coach and newly named head coach Scott Pera. Jones missed all of last season and only played four nonconference games in 2015-16. According to Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston, Jones could get a second year of eligibility if he gets an injury waiver.
Dunphy and Allen inducted
On Wednesday, Penn Athletics announced that Fran Dunphy and Jerome Allen will be part of the 10th class inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. Dunphy coached the Quakers from 1989 to 2006, leaving for Temple with a 310-163 overall record, 191-48 Ivy record, 10 Ivy titles, nine NCAA appearances and one NCAA Tournament victory. Allen, who arrived in 1991 from North Philadelphia, ended up being one of Penn’s all-time greats, leading the Quakers to three straight league titles (48-0 in that stretch), 3 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a first-round victory against No. 5 Nebraska in 1995. He was a three-time first-team All-Ivy selection and two-time Ivy Player of the Year.
Allen was taken in the second round of the NBA Draft and spent two years with Minnesota, Indiana and Denver. After playing in Europe for several years, he came back to Penn to become an assistant coach under Glen Miller. When Miller was fired, Allen was elevated to head coach so he could once again help Penn regain its former glory. Unfortunately, his coaching career was not as successful as his playing days. He resigned at the end of the 2014-15 season with a 65-104 overall and 38-46 Ivy record. Since that time, Allen has been as assistant coach under Brad Stevens in Boston.
Dave Zeitlin’s recent interview with Jerome Allen shows his continued love and appreciation for a school that has provided so much for him and his family.
Jarrod Simmons, an incoming three-star 6’ 9” power forward, was named Boys Basketball Player of the Year by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review and Beaver County Times. Following three years at Cushing Academy Prep School in Massachusetts, Simmons returned home to Moon Area High School. In his senior campaign, he led the team to the WPIAL Class 5A title, averaging 19.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.8 blocks a contest. In a recent interview with the Tribune Review, Simmons decided to join the Quakers since “Penn was just a place that had a family atmosphere. I felt comfortable with the coaches. It was also somewhere that mom was OK with. Sometime mom would say a place was too far or she didn’t get the right feelings. Penn was the right fit”. Jerome Allen and his mom couldn’t have said it any better.
Tigers to say aloha again
In addition to Princeton’s trip to South Florida for a nonconference game against Miami next season, it was announced this week that the Tigers would be going to Hawaii for the second time in two years to participate in 2017 Diamond Head Classic. Last year, Princeton visited the 50th state to play two games in the Pearl Harbor Classic. This coming season, Princeton will be competing in three games on December 22nd, 23rd and 25th with the contests being broadcast on the ESPN family of networks. While the specific games have not been finalized, the Tigers will be joined by Miami, Southern California, Hawaii, Middle Tennessee State, Akron, Davidson, and New Mexico State.
Cook honored at Final Four for good works
First-Team All-Ivy senior Steven Cook was in uniform on the Final Four court in Phoenix on Saturday night. While he was not playing with his fellow Tigers, he was being honored with the Allstate NABC Good Works Team for his athletic and academic accomplishments, as well as his volunteer efforts. Cook fundraised for the Gidel Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan and interned at an anti-poverty organization in Chicago. In a November 2016 Princeton basketball article, Cook said, “Learning about the Gidel Mother of Mercy Hospital and supporting their work has really made me think about what the Princeton experience is really about. As students at Princeton, we are privileged to receive the best education in the world, compete at the highest level athletically, and are surrounded by the most incredible people on a daily basis. However, it’s how we choose to use our experience to help others that truly matters and defines our impact on the world.”
Azar Swain is Yale’s gain
Azar Swain, an incoming two-star first-year 6’ 1” point guard, was named MVP of the Independent School League (ISL), New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Class B Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year in Massachusetts. Playing for the Rivers School, he averaged 23.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game this season. For his high school career, he scored a school record 2,185 points and was named to first-team All-ISL three times. Off the court, he volunteers with Special Olympics, as well as mentors and tutors inner-city student athletes. When he arrives in New Haven next fall, Swain will attempt to add depth to a strong groups of Yale point guards that includes former first-team All-Ivy Makai Mason, Alex Copeland and Eric Monroe.