By Robbie Loeb
Widely-recruited basketball star Zena Edosomwan ’12 publicly announced on March 11 his decision to attend Massachusetts prep school Northfield Mount Hermon before heading to Harvard in 2013. When Josh Hearlihy ’12 heard his teammate’s announcement, a smile instantly stretched across his face and he couldn’t help but laugh. The coincidence was too great.
Hearlihy immediately invited Edosomwan over to tell his teammate that he, too, was privately planning on attending the same prep school in northern Massachusetts.
“He just started smiling and laughing,” Hearlihy said. “He came over and he embraced me and was like, ‘Man, this is going to be so good for both of us.’”
Hearlihy had committed to play at the University of Utah for next year before Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak asked him to forfeit his scholarship in February. Hearlihy scrambled to find a school for next year and ultimately decided his best option was to reclassify for the class of 2013 and attend Northfield Mount Hermon.
Edosomwan had received over 30 offers from Div. I schools, including powerhouses such as Cal, Connecticut, Harvard, Southern California, Texas, UCLA and Washington before ultimately deciding on the Crimson. As a condition of his Harvard admission, Edosomwan must first complete a year at Northfield Mount Hermon.
Edosomwan and Hearlihy have suited up together since the eighth grade, when they began playing club basketball together, and they have taken it to the hardwood together for the past four years with Harvard-Westlake.
“I’m very excited,” Edosomwan said. “It’s not even necessarily basketball wise, but just to have a friend there. To see both of us grow with that extra year, I think it’s going to be a very fun experience.”
Krystkowiak contacted Hearlihy’s mother, Melissa, towards the end of the basketball season in late February to express his concerns with Hearlihy’s recently injured knee.
Due to a partially torn patellar tendon in his right knee suffered in mid-December, Hearlihy was on the brink of losing his entire senior season. To avoid surgery and save his season, he successfully underwent an experimental platelet-rich plasma treatment called Tenex FAST, cutting his injury time down to six weeks.
With his doctors’ permission, Hearlihy postponed the required second round of injections until shortly after the season to in order to make an early return.
His doctors told Krystkowiak their plan to postpone treatment and that there would be plenty of time to fully recover before he had to report for summer workouts.
But the Utes coach doubted that the oft-injured small forward could handle the intense 30-plus-game collegiate schedule with his debilitating knee and back issues early in his career, Hearlihy said.
Despite Hearlihy’s and his doctors’ insistence that he would be healthy by June, the coach had already made up his mind and suggested that Hearlihy sign a letter of release, which voids the letter of intent he signed in November.
Under NCAA rules, a signed letter of intent obligates an athlete to play at the school in exchange for a one-year scholarship. After signing the letter of intent, neither side can opt out unless the athlete signs a letter of release per the school’s request, releasing both sides from their obligations.
“I didn’t want to go to a place that didn’t want me or didn’t believe in me,” Hearlihy said. “They made up their minds, and I respected that.”
By the time Krystkowiak asked him to sign the letter of release, it was too late for Hearlihy to explore his options at other schools because schools had already chosen their recruiting classes. Hearlihy and his family decided the best course of action was to explore the prep school option.
“I liked everything about [Northfield Mount Hermon], the academic side and the basketball,” Hearlihy said. “So we decided to pursue that one and now it’s all set in stone.”
While Edosomwan is already committed to Harvard, Hearlihy will have to restart the recruiting process this summer and throughout next year.
“It is still my dream to play college basketball,” he said. “I will continue to work hard every day to make that dream a reality.”