Friday night DeLaSalle power forward Jonah Travis became the first member of Tommy Amaker's 2011 Harvard class pending October admissions. Travis has scored 831 points for coach Dave Thorson in the past two years (including a team high 19.1 points per game last year) and he led Minnesota Pump N Run to a 50-8 record this off-season.
"There were many factors that played into why I chose Harvard over any other school," said Travis Saturday. "The whole basketball aspect just seemed to fit everything I could possibly want. I'll be able to play and compete for time on the floor as a freshman, we will play against the absolute best programs out there, and I truly believe that we will be in the tournament multiple times while I'm there.
"The coaches took recruiting to a whole new level. They recruited me harder than any other school. Calls were constant both from head and assistant coaches and all mail was hand written. I really connected with coach Yanni Hufnagel, he 's going to challenge and motivate me in every aspect of my life."
In the past two off-seasons Travis visited an unlimited amount of schools unofficially traveling from the mountain regions to schools in the Midwest, and then earlier in the month he went east to see Harvard. The Crimson trip seemed to rate a ten out of ten.
"The unofficial visit was so impressive, I couldn't of asked for anything more," Jonah explained. "It was great spending the day with Coach Amaker. My dad absolutely loved Coach Amaker when he was younger. First he compared him meeting Amaker to me meeting Michael Jordan or Barack Obama, I told him to stop playing and he said "OK Carmelo then." He could barely sleep the night before because he was so excited.
"When it comes down to it, I picked Harvard because I wanted to be challenged on and off the basketball court."
Off the court Jonah is as hard working in the classroom as he is banging in the paint. At DeLaSalle he's taken several challenging courses in preparation for Ivy League studies.
"I'm thinking of going into something in business or law," said Travis. "Maybe to be a lawyer or an agent. I recently took Honors pre-calc, AP US History, Street Law and I finished my junior year with a 3.5 which at DeLaSalle is not easy to do."
So that's the plan off the floor but what does coach Amaker have in store for the 6-foot-6 forward when he suits up in the Crimson and White?
"They see me playing as a 3/4 combo forward that is able to take advantage of any match up that I am presented with," Jonah stated. "I will be able to bring hard work and heart whenever I'm on the floor."
"Harvard is getting a player that competes harder than any other player I have ever coached," said Jonah's three year Pump N Run coach Jeremy Miller. "Jonah picked Harvard over the 20 plus schools that extended him scholarship offers. The staff at Harvard is building something very special there and I am very proud that Jonah gets to be part of it!"
Travis had several options to choose from. Ivy League schools Princeton and Cornell offered, Tulane from Conference USA offered, Boise State (soon to be in the Mountain West) offered, schools like Northeastern, Wofford, and Cal Poly who have had success with Minnesota players offered, Miami of Ohio and Toledo of the MAC offered, and high majors Northwestern, Colorado, and Washington State were all showing interest. But in the end Harvard and the Ivy League was too much of an opportunity to pass up.
"In the end I had to take of an opportunity that would change my whole life not just the four years that I'm there," said Jonah. "I was given an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself and I had to seize it. My decision was not based on any other offer or who didn't offer. It was based on where I felt most comfortable and where I felt I would have the best opportunity to succeed.
"I want to thank my parents Coach Miller, Coach Thorson, and DeLaSalle. Without them I would not be in the situation I am today. I could not be happier I am truly blessed for this. Go Crimson!"