Skip to content

Jeremy Lin thinks being Asian-American hurt college basketball scholarship offers

Apr 7, 2013, 9:59 PM EDT

Jeremy Lin, James Harden AP

Jeremy Lin didn’t play college basketball on a scholarship — Harvard doesn’t offer athletic scholarships.

Lin was a noted high school player — he led Palo Alto High School to the California state championship and won a number of state awards. But Stanford in his own back yard didn’t offer him a scholarship, nor did UCLA, Oregon or any other Pac-12 school. Lin had the grades, SATs and resume to get into Harvard, so he went East.

We now know Lin as the guy who was good enough at Harvard to get a shot at NBA Summer League, where he turned heads and got some shots in the NBA until the perfect storm came together and “Linsanity” hit New York.

But why was that talent not recognized out of high school. Lin was frank in discussing that with Charlie Rose on 60 minutes that aired Sunday night.

“Well, I think the obvious thing in my mind is that I was Asian-American, which, you know, is a whole different issue but … I think that was a barrier. I mean … it’s a stereotype.”

Did that also play into him not getting drafted? I don’t think so (we’ll get to that) but the marketing master David Stern said yes on 60 Minutes (via CBSNews.com).

“”I think in the true sense the answer to that is yes,” Stern said. “In terms of looking at somebody … I don’t know whether he was discriminated against because he was at Harvard (he said with a laugh) or because he was Asian.”

Lin averaged 17 points a game shooting 51.9 percent his senior year at Harvard — but there were a lot of a holes in Lin’s game. You saw this even at Summer League as he tried to make a roster — he could get into the lane but didn’t finish well, he turned the ball over, he wasn’t great defensively and his physical skills were average for the NBA. You had to wonder how much he could really develop to overcome those weaknesses. Yet scouts can often focus too much on what a player can’t do and not enough on what they do well (I can be guilty of that, too) — Lin had an obvious feel for the game and his style of play excited fans.

Which is why he got a chance. Maybe there was some stereotyping, but I got the sense at the NBA level it was simply a case there were better draft gambles to take, guys with higher ceilings. Or so it seemed at the time — clearly he could overcome those deficiencies. Drafting in all sports is an inexact science. I’m not going to speculate on why he didn’t get a college scholarship, but my sense is recruiting, like drafting, is never perfect.

That said, Lin is changing perceptions. And that alone is great for basketball in general and the NBA particularly.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Kings have no interest in Hedo Turkoglu

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    The Kings were never a likely landing spot.

  2. Report: 76ers to sign Jordan McRae a year after stashing him

    Aug 3, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v Utah Jazz Getty Images

    What will J.P. Tokoto, future Philadelphia second-rounders think of McRae’s contract?

  3. Timberwolves coach Flip Sauders returns to Twitter to say he loves three pointers

    Aug 3, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Flip Saunders AP

    The Timberwolves roster doesn’t have a lot of quality three point shooters on it.

  4. Magic guarantee Dewayne Dedmon’s contract

    Aug 3, 2015, 12:01 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Orlando keeps backup center on minimum contract

  5. With Nikola Pekovic still hurt, Flip Saunders says Karl-Anthony Towns could start. Or Gorgui Dieng.

    Aug 2, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwu3mmzjztazntu1ogzhywnkzju2otmyzgnloty5otbl1 AP

    Saunders has a versatile front line, but does he have enough shooting to give them room to operate?

  6. Michael Jordan (and a kid) beat Jimmy Butler in shooting contest (VIDEO)

    Aug 2, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    Jordan will gloat about this to Butler for years.

  7. Mavericks officially sign Summer League standout, No. 21 pick Justin Anderson

    Aug 2, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    It’s a standard rookie contract for a first-round pick.

  8. Former NBA All-Star Bob Kauffman dies at age 69

    Aug 2, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Spaulding NBA basketball Getty Images

    He was a star with the Buffalo Braves (the franchise that is now the L.A. Clippers).

  9. Giannis Antetokounmpo was confused when Anthony Davis talked smack, called him “kid”

    Aug 2, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

    “Dude, what are you talking about? You’re only a year older than me!” — Giannis Antetokounmpo on Anthony Davis calling him “kid.”

  10. Jahlil Okafor helps one kid dunk, brutally blocks another (VIDEO)

    Aug 2, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Jahlil Okafor Jahlil Okafor

    Okafor is getting acquainted with his young fans in Philadelphia.

  11. Clippers waive Jordan Hamilton

    Aug 1, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Jordan Hamilton Jordan Hamilton

    Hamilton played 14 games with the Clippers last season.

  12. Gregg Popovich expects Tim Duncan to play the “same boring game” as usual

    Aug 1, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich

    That would be good news for the Spurs and bad news for the rest of the Western Conference.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (2268)
  2. L. James (1632)
  3. T. Thompson (1507)
  4. J. Thompson (1385)
  5. J. Smith (1384)
  1. M. Miller (1345)
  2. P. George (1329)
  3. N. Young (1276)
  4. B. Haywood (1275)
  5. I. Thomas (1270)