This past week Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated brought Zena Edosomwan into the national spotlight with an amazing column on SI.com.
Edosomwan, a basketball player from Los Angeles, turned down 39 scholarship offers from colleges such as UCLA, USC, Cal, Washington, Texas and Wake Forest. Despite being ranked as the 72nd best high school senior basketball player by Scout.com, Edosomwan turned down all the high-profile teams in favor of Harvard, where he will play college basketball.
In reading Winn’s column, you find that Edosomwan is an extremely smart and thoughtful person, as evidenced perfectly by this quote:
“Four years from now, when no one cares who Zena Edosomwan is, I know a lot of opportunities will be there for me to be successful on and off the court. And on top of that, why go for the average college experience when I could do something special that people remember me by? If I become successful, people will remember that I took that chance, that I had a higher purpose than basketball. Maybe I’ll be a trendsetter.”
But the incredible story of Edosomwan doesn’t end there, as Winn detailed. Edosomwan – despite having strong grades, going into pre-med and studying Chinese – fell just short with his SAT score of the Ivy League’s minimum requirements. Instead of giving up on Harvard and accepting one of the many other offers he had, Edosomwan decided to enroll at Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.) for the upcoming school year to become academically eligible for the Ivy League.
Edosomwan gets it. By declining numerous scholarship offers to choose Harvard, he’s shown that he gets the big picture and definitely will be successful.
There are way too many stories of people who ignore education thinking they’ll become sports stars, despite the extremely long odds of those dreams ever becoming a reality. It’s saddening when a story of a college football player who can’t read comes to light, as the person was just pushed through the system just because of their athletic abilities.
A very small number of high school athletes get to play in college. An even smaller number of those make it to the pros. And even when athletes make it to the professional ranks, the odds of them having much success are slim.
Edosomwan has proven he knows the odds of him becoming a star basketball player are against him, and he’s preparing himself for life after the sport. By going to Harvard, he’ll have a wide range of opportunities available following graduation.
But even though he’s going to Harvard, Edosomwan isn’t giving up on his dream of playing in the NBA. He uses the improbable story of Jeremy Lin, a former Harvard standout who became a star with the New York Knicks, as evidence that he to can reach the NBA from Harvard.
Of course, Harvard isn’t the right school for everyone. Students can get a great education at schools such as the ones Edosomwan turned down.
The point is, Edosomwan gets the big picture. He’s looking not only at the next four years of his life; he’s looking beyond that and setting himself up in the best position possible.
There’s a lot to be learned from the Edosomwan’s story.
Kyle Shaner is the sports editor for the Daily Advocate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.