March Madness is truly mad – madly happy that is – for the Saunders family whose son Wesley is the sophomore who scored 18 points in Thursday’s first ever NCAA win for the Harvard Crimson. Harvard plays Arizona this afternoon at 3:15 pm on TNT if you don’t happen to be in Salt Lake City where Wesley Saunder‘s family has assembled court-side to root on their #23.
“We don’t get to see him much right now,” Wesley’s mother Ramona Robinson told the Larchmont Buzz in a phone conversation this morning. ” He’s got a lot of team duties, so we only get an hour here or there to chit chat. But he’s really excited about it all! ” Her husband Ed and daughter Akilah are also in the bleachers – sitting in some ‘phenomenal comp seats’ set aside for family members, with professional scouts not far away.
Today’s game against Arizona is going to be particularly interesting for Saunders as he know many of the players on the Arizona team from playing against them in high school. “He’s been playing AAU (Amateur Atheletic Union) club tournaments since 9th grade so he’s been in pretty high-level games for a while. He’s used to the pressure and still gets the jitters and nervous of course. But he turns that into a performance,” Robinson shared. “This arena in Salt Lake is huge compared to Harvard’s high-school sized arena.” Evidently seven of Harvard’s gymnasiums could fit in today’s venue.
If the Crimson win again today they’ll play the Regionals at Staples Center next weekend, a lot closer to the family’s West Adams home. But in between, it’s back to classes on Monday. “I often remind him, you’re still a student,” his mom told the Buzz. She also said that he absolutely loves Harvard. “The weather has been an adjustment, but he gets along well with fellow students and teammates. As a sophomore, his game has seen a big transition from last year to this year because he’s finally playing a lot more.” This is in part because several teammates were booted from the team in an academic scandal, but also because Wesley has put in the effort needed. “Last summer he worked hard on his jump shot and ball handling, and it’s really paid off,” Robinson noted.
Wesley, now 6′ 5″ tall, attended St. James School in Hancock Park, and went on to study and play ball at Windward School on the westside. When in LA one of his favorite places to eat is Larchmont Wine & Cheese, which he loves for their sandwiches.
There’s a lot more about Wesley Saunders that basketball fans and fiends already know, such as he was number 3 pick on ESPN Top Plays of the Week last week. But if you’re tuning in soon to the Harvard-Arizona match-up, you may first want to do some research on our local basketball star via the links below.
Boston Globe: Wesley Saunders blossoms for Harvard