Jaylen Brown, Intellectual and Friend of Harvard Basketball

Published by Eliel Ig-Izevbekhai on March 09, 2018 at 8:54PM
Professor Jaylen Brown

Celtics second-year wing Jaylen Brown spoke in front of a packed crowd at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on March 1.

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When eighteen-year-old Jaylen Brown was considering what college to attend, he had offers from the perennial basketball powerhouses. Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, Kentucky, and Michigan all flooded the then five-star recruit and now star Celtics small forward’s house with recruitment letters. Like most recruits, Brown considered many factors. He weighed his compatibility with the coach, location, his potential NBA prospects, but above all else: academics.

With offers from some of the most storied programs in college basketball history, Brown surprised many by selecting University of California, Berkeley. In a visit and discussion at Harvard Graduate School of Education last Thursday, the Celtics star spoke on his time at the University.

“My best experience was just taking classes there,” Brown said. “The basketball was whatever it was. The chips fall into place, but the educational experience I had at Cal, second to none.”

Education was the topic echoed throughout Brown’s talk. Whether it was his educational experience at Cal, the stratified educational system of the United States, or his growing relationship with Harvard University, Brown stressed the importance of quality education.

Once said to be “too smart for basketball,” he is now a living example of the fact that worlds of sports and education do not need to be mutually exclusive. Brown, a chess player and multilingual speaker, has been cultivating his intellectual interests, despite his NBA commitments.

One of these interests has been affecting the lives of young athletes just like his eighteen-year-old self, causing Brown to become heavily engrossed in the world of Harvard basketball.

Brown has made connections to several team members and has even faced off against players on the team, including a match with sophomore forward Seth Towns. He has done all this while stressing the importance of education and the platform that sports can offer.

Brown’s combination of intellectual interests and experience in the recruitment process have made him very involved in the Harvard College recruitment process.

“I talked to Tommy [Amaker] a few times,” Brown said. “He actually invited me on campus for some recruitment stuff and I came up to the school to play some open gym.

Brown and coach Tommy Amaker have created a bond over the past few years over their common goal of building up student-athletes as well as Harvard basketball. In 2016, The Celtics forward was involved in the recruitment of 5-star recruit Wendell Carter.

Brown and Carter hail from the same area, which created a connection between him and Carter’s family. The Celtics star advised the number five player in the class of 2017 to consider attending Harvard, citing his recruitment experience and the importance of education.

“At the end of the day, basketball is basketball,” Brown said. “You’ve got a whole life to live. So I said Harvard, I would love to see that,” Brown said. “I would love to see somebody coming from where I’m from [and] do that. If I could do it over again, I probably would have still went to [Cal] Berkeley but I would have at least considered Harvard because that’s a great school, that’s a great brand that’s attached to him, so I want him to do what’s best for him. But selfishly, I’d like to see him go to Harvard.’’

Harvard was one of the final four schools in the highly touted recruit’s decision. Though, he ultimately chose Duke university, Carter’s consideration of Harvard is a sign of things to come for the basketball program as a result of Brown’s support.

The Celtics small forward spoke last Thursday about athlete platforms, saying that he wishes to use his platform for a purpose. He may have found this purpose through his connection to the Harvard basketball program: recruiting student-athletes to enrich their educational journey as well as their basketball skills.

Hopefully this connection will grow, as Brown plans to take classes at Harvard while continuing his NBA career, citing the power of such a combination.

“I think there is a lot of power in that,” Brown said. “Such a prestigious university, having someone of such basketball stature and just combining the two. Sports and education, I think they overlap.”

Donato and Welch ('05) Named to U.S. Olympic Roster

Published by Spencer R. Morris on January 01, 2018 at 8:31PM
Harvard Wears Stars and Stripes

Current junior forward Ryan Donato will join former defenseman Noah Welch '05 in representing team U.S.A. in this year's Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Two players from the Harvard hockey program will represent the United States in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games, USA Hockey announced at the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic on Monday. Junior forward Ryan Donato received this distinct honor, as well as former Crimson blue-liner Noah Welch ’05.

The NHL’s decision to withhold its players from Olympic competition opened the door for players not traditionally in the selection pool to vie for American roster spots. The 25-man roster unveiled on Monday includes players from European professional leagues, those with AHL-only contracts, and a few NCAA student-athletes.

Donato is one of just four Division-I skaters to make the team, joining Boston University’s Jordan Greenway, Denver’s Troy Terry, and St. Cloud State’s Will Borgen. All but three players on the U.S. roster skated with a college program, with BU and Yale being the most common alma maters.

Donato’s play this season may have tipped the selection scale in his favor. Through 12 games, the Scituate, Mass., native has tallied 20 points (12G, 8A) and owns a +7 rating. Donato, who has inked the score sheet in every game this season, sits atop the nation in goals per game (1.00) and places second in points per game (1.67), behind only Canisius forward Dylan McLaughlin (1.69).

Even as an underclassman, the Boston Bruins prospect was an integral part of the Harvard attack, recording 21 points (13G, 8A) as a freshman and 40 (21G, 19A) the following year. The junior’s performance last season earned him First Team All-Ivy and All-ECAC honors in addition to a spot on the NCAA Tournament’s All-East Region team

While Welch graduated a decade before Donato sported the Crimson sweater, he achieved similar levels of success while in Cambridge. A two-time All-American, the defenseman captained the team in coach Ted Donato’s first year behind the Harvard bench and reached the NCAA Tournament in each of his four seasons. In 2010, the Brighton, Mass., native was named to the ECAC All-Decade Team for the 2000s.

After graduating, Welch played 75 games for multiple NHL organizations including the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that selected him in the second round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Welch currently plays for Växjö Lakers HC in the Swedish Hockey League.

Donato and Welch are just the two latest members of the Harvard hockey program to represent their respective nations in the Winter Olympics, as 28 Crimson graduates have played, coached, or managed personnel for their countries. This list, of course, includes coach Donato, who laced them up for the Americans in the 1992 Albertville Olympics, just a year after graduating from Harvard.

—Staff writer Spencer R. Morris can be reached at Follow Spencer on Twitter @SMorrisTHC.

Kyle Juszczyk Earns Second Pro Bowl Appearance

Published by Jack Stockless on December 21, 2017 at 12:50AM

Kyle Juszczyk ’13 is headed back to the NFL’s Pro Bowl. This time, the former Crimson and current San Francisco 49er has earned a spot as the NFC’s starting fullback.

Juszczyk appeared in his first pro bowl last season as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. In that game, the fullback caught five passes for 43 yards as part of the AFC squad’s 20-13 victory. He also tacked on eight rushing yards on three handoffs.

After four seasons with the Ravens, Juszczyk headed to the Bay Area this offseason to join the 49ers on what could end up being a four year deal, depending on team options.

In his first season with San Francisco, the fullback has caught 24 passes for 220 yards and one touchdown to go along with 31 rushing yards. Juszczyk has appeared in 12 games this year, nine of which he started. He is also nearing 1000 career receiving yards, as he has racked up 989 over the course of nearly five years.

Before joining the professional ranks, Juszczyk was a two-time All-American at the tight end/halfback position in coach Tim Murphy’s offense. He also garnered three All-Ivy League selections while at Harvard.

Juszczyk is the Crimson’s all-time leader among tight ends in receiving yards, receptions, and touchdown receptions. His career marks of 1,576 receiving yards, 125 catches, and 22 receiving touchdowns rank seventh, sixth, and third all-time, respectively, among all Harvard players.

The only other Harvard football alumnus to appear in multiple Pro Bowls is Matt Birk ’98. Birk, who earned six Pro Bowl selections, played 14 seasons as a center for the Minnesota Vikings and the Baltimore Ravens.

Juszczyk is one of over 30 former Harvard football players to play in the NFL. Currently, he is joined by Cam Brate, Nick Easton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Tyler Ott.

The Pro Bowl, the NFL’s yearly All-Star game, will be played on Jan. 28 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

—Staff writer Jack Stockless can be reached at

Tweets of the Week: Men's Basketball Edition

Published by Amir Mamdani on December 01, 2017 at 10:36PM
Captain Chris

Senior Chris Egi is the lone men's basketball captain this season.

{image id=1326279 size=full caption=true align=center}Men’s basketball hit the road over Thanksgiving break, heading to California to sample the best of the West Coast. In honor of the trip, here are the best tweets of the week from current and former Harvard men’s basketball players:

7.) Freshman forward Danilo Djuricic

“Does not matter without the win... just trying to help this team do that! Time to bounce back tomorrow.”

Great team attitude, Danilo!

6.) Sophomore standout Bryce Aiken

“If there isn’t a way then make one.”

Inspiring advice, Bryce—true of life as well as the Harvard concentration options.

5.) Freshman guard Rio Haskett

“If it ain’t rough it ain’t right”

“We run things, things don’t run us.”

I can’t tell you exactly what Rio means here, but I can say that he is clearly wise beyond his freshman years.

4.) Junior forward Weisner Perez

“I’m so thankful and blessed to be where I’m at in life. Didn’t get the opportunity to go home for thanksgiving, but instead got to spend it with the Harvard Basketball family. #LaFamilia”

Great attitude toward the road trip, Weisner! Way to show off that upperclassman maturity. I personally would throw a fit if anyone tried to take away my Thanksgiving holiday.

3.) Senior forward Chris Egi

“Day 1”

Day 1 of what Chris??? Day 1 of what??? Clearly, the senior and academic standout has reached a level where mere mortals cannot understand his tweets.

2.) Sophomore forward Henry Welsh

“I cast my Heisman ballot for #BryceLove! Click the player you think deserves the @NissanUSA #HeismanHouse vote!”

I’m more of a Baker Mayfield man, but who can blame Henry—Love sure can run it. Not sure how Henry’s brother, Tom, of the UCLA Basketball team feels about Henry throwing his Heisman support to a PAC-12 Rival.

1.) Men’s basketball alum Wesley Saunders, formerly of the Knicks D-League team and currently playing professional basketball in Finland

“Well I know what I’m doing for my birthday #TheIncredibles2”

I guess now we all know how Wes has been spending his time in Finland. Hopefully he can find a Finnish theater to give him what he wants.

Blyashov Sends Men's Water Polo to NCAA Tournament

Published by Leon K. Yang on November 22, 2017 at 8:26PM

Last weekend, the no. 15 Harvard men’s water polo team (23-7, 8-3 CWPA) battled no. 13 Princeton in a pivotal matchup, with both teams vying for the Northeast Water Polo Conference championship.

The game was a back-and-forth affair and remained 10-10 after regulation and 11-11 after the first overtime. In the second sudden-death frame, though, freshman Dennis Blyashov ended the event. The attacker juked a defender and skimmed a shot across the water and into the net.

That play proved the difference, as the Crimson topped the Tigers (22-6, 8-3) to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament. This season marked the second-straight year that Harvard has won the title.

Blyashov has been an integral part of Harvard’s offense. The Carlsbad, California, native was recently awarded the NWPC Rookie of the Year and named to the 2017 NWPC All-Conference First Team.

Blyashov has amassed 88 goals on the year, leading the team. His tenacious play has landed him numerous weekly honors. In the Crimson’s opening weekend, Blyashov scored five goals and added six assists at the Bruno Classic, winning him Northeast Water Polo Rookie of the Week honors.

Blyashov went on to win a second Rookie of the Week after scoring eight goals, dishing out four assists, and making three steals, leading Harvard to three victories against Salem International, George Washington, and Gannon.

In October, the attacker captured his third Rookie of the Week, scoring 15 goals overall, including seven in a 13-9 win over Iona. Later that month, Blyashov won Co-Player of the Week honors after a strong weekend in which he scored 14 goals, contributing to the wins against Johns Hopkins, No. 19 Pomona-Pitzer, and George Washington. In later games, Blyashov landed his fourth Rookie of the Week after netting 12 goals.

In the NEWPC Conference tournament, Blyashov helped Harvard best Iona and No. 15 St. Francis. Against the Gaels, he scored six goals; against the Terriers, he added another three.

His most important performance, however, came against Princeton. Besides tallying the winning score, Blyashov added three more goals during the contest.