Notre Dame’s Louis Lesmond commits to Harvard

The 6-5 wing generated a ton of interest last summer and reeled in offers from Nebraska, Illinois, Oklahoma, Xavier, Marquette, DePaul and Wisconsin.

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Notre Dame’s Louis Lesmond (23) shoots against Loyola.

Notre Dame’s Louis Lesmond (23) shoots against Loyola.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

A year ago Louis Lesmond was a rising junior leaving Evanston for Niles Notre Dame.

He was fresh off a sophomore season in which he played a small role, averaging 4.4 points for a Wildkits team that finished second in the state.

Despite the modest start to his high school career, Lesmond flashed all the tools and upside of a potential high-major player. There was buzz surrounding the ultra-promising Lesmond, who was still getting acclimated to living in the United States after moving here from France.

He was already a City/Suburban Hoops Report top five prospect in the Class of 2021, set to make a name for himself among college coaches and other evaluators last spring and summer.

The 6-5 wing generated a ton of interest last summer and has reeled in high-major offers since. Nebraska, Illinois, Oklahoma, Xavier, Marquette, DePaul and Wisconsin all offered.

But Lesmond chose a different path, combining high-level academics with Ivy League basketball. He committed to Harvard Saturday afternoon.

“Harvard is a high-major program that plays in the Ivy League,” Lesmond said. “It’s a program that plays a high-level schedule, operates like a high-major program and is always right there, competing for a NCAA Tournament berth.”

Lesmond admits at the start of the recruiting process he was like many players around the country. He thought about the high-major programs in Power Five conferences.

“When Harvard wasn’t initially recruiting me, I did only think about conferences like the Big East, Big Ten and Big 12,” Lesmond said. “But when Harvard shows interest, you can’t ignore it. The Harvard name carries a lot of weight. I also looked at the big picture after basketball, the best opportunities for me after basketball. I get the best of both worlds at Harvard.”

Lesmond said he sat down with family, coaches and those closest to him to discuss the option of playing at Harvard and what it would mean to graduate with an Ivy League degree. Notre Dame coach Kevin Clancy recognized his star player was looking at his college choice with a wide lens.

“He’s someone who is looking at the bigger picture and life after basketball,” Clancy said. “That Harvard degree will go a long way when basketball is over. Louis had a few things that were very important to him and Harvard provides all of those for him.”

That includes a head coach who Lesmond said he felt extremely comfortable with. Coach Tommy Amaker has turned Harvard into an Ivy League power with four NCAA Tournament appearances and three trips to the NIT in his 13 years there.

“Coach Amaker became very involved and did a really good job of recruiting me,” Lesmond said. “He’s a coach I trust, feel comfortable with and who has done a very good job of recruiting. This is a great opportunity.”

Notre Dame’s Louis Lesmond (23) shoots the ball over Curie’s Armond Williams (25).

Notre Dame’s Louis Lesmond (23) shoots the ball over Curie’s Armond Williams (25).

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

The addition of Lesmond could go a long way in ending a current five-year NCAA Tournament drought for the Crimson. Amaker brought in a much-talked about recruiting class in 2020, which included four-star prospect Justice Ajogbor, a 6-9 center and top 100 prospect nationally.

Lesmond is the third Harvard commit in the Class of 2021 but one who clearly elevates the future of Harvard basketball.

This past season Lesmond led Notre Dame, one of the top teams in the state, in scoring with 16.5 points a game while adding 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and shooting 44 percent from the three-point line.

The big wing has an enticing blend of athleticism, size and scoring ability with his shooting and offensive versatility.

“Harvard is getting a kid who is a two-way player,” Clancy said. “He shoots it at a high level and with range. But he also has the ability to showcase great athleticism while being a willing and able defensive player.”

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