Guarding the Ivy: A Look at the Ivy League’s Freshmen Guards in 2016-17

The 2016 recruiting class for the Harvard Crimson features a ton of talent in the back court, including Justin Bassey (above) and top-100 recruit Bryce AIken (top).
The 2016 recruiting class for the Harvard Crimson features a ton of talent in the back court, including Justin Bassey (above) and top-100 recruit Bryce AIken (top).

There’s a changing of the guard in the Ivy League in 2016-17.

Eleven freshman guards are joining the conference this season, all of whom are looking to make a name for themselves and their programs. Some will come in and start right away, while others will learn from some of the conference’s top players and will have to put in the work to steal minutes from the stars.

All of the Ivy League’s guard recruits and promising back court prospects are inspected below, and our preview looks at why these fresh faces will succeed at the collegiate level.

Harvard Crimson

Justin Bassey

6’5” – 210 lbs

Colorado Academy

Bassey joins a prolific Harvard recruiting class of seven total players, with four ranked inside the top 100. This combo guard is well known for his pungent dunks and fierce takes to the rim. With Patrick Steeves gone, Bassey will contribute right away as a scorer. His shot of the dribble needs improvement, but his catch-and-shoot game is fast and efficient. Bassey is someone who can develop into a top-level guard with his ability to find open teammates and get to the rim, especially with his size.

Bryce Aiken

5’9” – 185 lbs

The Patrick School

Aiken, an ESPN Top 100 recruit, committed to Harvard over the likes of Miami, Auburn, Oklahoma, and other Power 5 schools. Aiken is a smart guard who makes the right decision under pressure. He plays with confidence and is cool under pressure. His crafty ball handling and ability to change pace help him get down court despite the size differential with nearly every other player. On the perimeter, he can create his own shot and find the open man. Siyani Chambers still has one more year in Cambridge, but Aiken is in hot pursuit of that starting spot. Bottom line; Aiken is the quintessential point guard who is a capable leader and should be a high yielding performer earlier in his college career.

Christian Juzang

6’2” – 175 lbs

Viewpoint High school

Juzang enjoyed a productive high school career, leaving Viewpoint as the all time leading scorer. In college, we see a combo guard who can shoot the three and distribute effectively. He should be a big-time scorer who can sink a game-changer of a shot. Harvard, though, has several proven three point shooters and a crowded backcourt. Juzang is going to need to work hard for every minute of court time. If he fights his way into the rotation, we’ll likely also be hailing his improved ball-handling.

Brown Bears

Brandon Anderson

6’1” – 170 lbs

Den Bosco High School

Anderson led Don Bosco High School to the New Jersey State finals and surely looks do to the same at his new school. He brings a variety of talents to a team in need of production at both ends of the court. Anderson is a crafty ball handler who can create his own shot and find paths to the basket. Consistency and size are areas that will naturally improve as he continues to work harder and get bigger. Head Coach Mike Martin expressed his excitement to add Anderson’s perimeter defense to the mix and help him adjust to playing at the next level.

Penn Quakers

Ray Jerome

6’2” – 200 lbs

Cheshire Academy

Ray Jerome, part of a seven-man recruiting class, will be able to make an immediate impact for a Penn program in need of dynamic scorers. In fact, his three-point shot could help land him into late game situations right away.

“I bring a lot of shooting and athleticism to the team,” Jerome said.

His confidence and belief he fits Donahue’s system are the traits that reflect what he does on the court. His motor on defense makes him a pesky and energetic defender always looking to get in transition.

Devon Goodman

6’0” – 160 lbs

Germantown Academy

Goodman is a scorer. Ivy won’t likely slow this kid down. Using his speed and agility to get out in transition, take floaters, and wedge-in risky layups, Goodman distinguishes himself as an attacker. Outside the paint, he can stroke the three-ball. There are a few developmental opportunities, as there are with everyone in the incoming guard class. As a point guard, Goodman will need to become a better distributor and more consistent on defense. But overall, Goodman is a playmaker who, with a big equity investment, could become a leader at Penn over the next four years.

Ryan Betley

6’5” – 185 lbs

Downingtown West

Betley is a smart capable guard who projects to be more of a “three and D”-type guy at the college level. At the Adidas Circuit, he shot 48 percent, but he wants to prove he is more than a shooter.

“I think I’m more than that. I can get to the rim. I can handle the ball. I can handle the ball against pressure. But I think the thing that stands out about me is I just want to make all the right plays, whether it’s passing, shooting, dribbling,” Betley said.

Whether these skills can translate to the next level is yet to be known but with his size and overall ability, he can make an immediate impact this upcoming season.

Yale Bulldogs

Eric Monroe

6’2” – 175 lbs

St. Augustine

A rare shooting point guard is in the mix for the Bulldogs this upcoming season. Eric Monroe sounds like Makai Mason’s successor in the making. He will have at least one more year to learn behind Mason, who could spring for the NBA Draft at season’s end. Monroe has special passing abilities, which could mean big things at the next level. When Mason decides to leave town, the blow will be softened by the up-and-coming Monroe.

Miye Oni

6’6” – 200 lbs

Suffield Academy

Oni is capable of bringing a lot to the table in his first season at Yale. His ability to play above the rim will help ease the loss of two-time Ivy League Player of the Year, Justin Sears. His shot is a prominent part of his game, but his athleticism, rebounding and ball handling abilities should make him a solid player at the mid-major level. Although Oni is listed as a guard, we should see him playing mostly on the wing and the forward position.

Columbia Lions

Jake Killingsworth

6’5” – 205 lbs

Junipero Serra

Killingworth played under the radar for most of his high school career. In the Northern California Division II championship game, he picked up 12 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in a close win. Killingsworth is an all-around player who isn’t necessarily dominant, but does all the little things, and does them well. Given his size, his passing ability is a lethal weapon. Few may have heard of Jake Killingsworth at this point, but Columbia fans have a lot to look forward to.

Mike Smith

5’9” – 156 lbs


Smith, the Pioneer Press All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year, helped put Fenwick on the map and plans to do the same at Columbia.

“I get to go somewhere like Fenwick all over again, where basketball is on the rise and I can help put it on the map,” Smith said.

Columbia basketball has been around, rising and falling, for over 110 years, but we’re bullish on the impact Smith can make—if we’re permitted a non-lion animal reference. At Fenwick, Smith averaged around 20 points and four assists per game. Among many talents, Smith is a scorer that can shoot from anywhere on the court. He is a smart dribbler who can find the cutter or keep it himself. Smith is excited to be a part of the Ivy League and leave his mark.

“I just feel like the Ivy League is becoming a much better conference and I want to be part of that,” he said. “When I visited, it felt like I was at home and it was the best place for me.”

Both the Cornell Big Red and Dartmouth Big Green do not have any incoming guards according to their team websites. Princeton has not yet announced their incoming freshmen.

So, as of mid-August, there’s a new wave, a new changing of the guard if you will, coming across the Ivy League. They will all look to make their mark this season, and fans are in for a colourful season full of ups and downs as the freshmen guards get accustomed to the Division I level.

– M. Roitman