- (Photo: Reuters/Mike Cassese)
Jeremy Lin's NBA debut has been legendary, yet it isn't the first time he has overcome doubters to decimate basketball's most elite competition.
Before N.B.A. scouts looked passed Jeremy Lin, many top basketball universities overlooked him. Despite playing high-school basketball across the street from Stanford University at Palo Alto High School, Lin received little consideration as a top-recruit.
Lin was a standout, leading his team to a record of 32-1 and a 2006 California Division II championship win over national powerhouse, Mater Dei, according to the Daily News. Despite his success at the high-school level, Lin failed to receive any scholarship offers from Stanford, nor U.C.L.A., which were his top choices for college.
Lin sent his highlight film to many programs in the Ivy and Patriot Leagues, but programs showed little interest in him. Only Harvard and Brown showed a desire to recruit Lin.
Steve Donahue, former coach at Cornell University, said that Lin was a good student and good player, but showed a lack of athleticism.
"But he didn't look that athletic and he didn't shoot it all that well," Donahue said. "Even after his freshmen year at Harvard, you didn't give it a second thought that we made a mistake."
Even though Harvard showed mild interest in Lin, they weren't immediately convinced of his superstar quality. Former Harvard assistant coach Bill Holden said that he didn't really stand out.
"He was like any other average high school player we might see. When I saw his coach, I recommended he go to a Division III school," Holden said.
However, after watching Lin play against top recruits at a tournament, Holden changed his tone. Along with fellow assistant Lamar Reddicks, Holden noticed that Lin was getting the best of other more heralded college recruits. Soon Lin became Harvard's top recruit and continued to shine against the best competition.
In his junior year at Harvard, Lin led the Crimson to an upset win over powerhouse, Boston College, just three days after they beat the number one North Carolina Tar Heels. He scored 27 points, had 8 assists and 6 rebounds in the 82-70 victory.
During that year, Lin was the only NCAA Division I Men's Basketball player to rank Top 10 in a conference for scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, blocked shots, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and three-point shot percentage, according to ESPN. He was also a three-time All-Ivy League player.
Lin became famous for his stellar performance against the then 12th-ranked Connecticut Huskies in his senior year. He scored all over the soon-to-be national champs, putting up 30 points and 9 rebounds. He also outplayed the eventual number one pick for the NBA draft, Kemba Walker.
After the game, Hall of Fame Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, said that Lin could've played for any top school in the nation, according to ESPN.
"I've seen a lot of teams come through here, and he could play for any of them," Calhoun said. "He's got great, great composure on the court. He knows how to play."
ESPN also picked Lin as one the 12 most versatile players in college basketball during his senior season.
That year, Harvard set records for wins (21), non-conference wins (11), home wins (11) and road wins (11). Lin finished his college career as the first ever Ivy League player to finish with at least 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals. He also maintained a 3.1 grade average.
Regardless on his legendary college career, Lin was overlooked again. Going undrafted in the 2010 draft, Lin bounced from team to team, playing in mini-camps and tournaments. He once again forced people to notice him after competing against another number one pick, John Wall.
Lin stole cheers from the more well-known Wall after going 6-12 in shooting, putting up 13 points on John Wall in 28 minutes. By the end of the game, the crowd cheered for Lin and he eventually received offers from the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers.