On October 14, 2009, Brown University received a verbal commitment from Joe Sharkey, a 6'2" guard in the high school class of 2011. At the time, Sharkey was just a junior at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts. Having not played a single game of his junior year of high school, Sharkey's commitment to the Bears was the earliest commitment by a men's basketball prospect to an Ivy League school in the league's history.
But that record just fell.
On August 28, 2011, Cornell picked up a commitment from Tim Higgins (Paul VI HS) Fairfax, VA, 6-10, 200, C, a member of the class of 2013. Not even a junior in high school, Higgins is already committed to attending Cornell and the Big Red have reserved a place for him in the program.
Boasting a 4.3 GPA and a near perfect SAT score, while mastering seven musical instruments (and currently working on his eighth instrument), Higgins could cruise through admissions at any Ivy League school, with or without his basketball talents.
Higgins is a member of the elite AAU club, Team Takeover. Ranked as the No. 10 prospect in Virginia in the class of 2013, by Rivals.com/VirginiaPreps.com, the site notes of Higgins, "Big body, still developing slowly but surely, underrated from a physical standpoint because he doesn't look strong. Re-fining his post moves and what I like [is[ his smarts for the game and understanding of concepts. He's kind of an unknown on a state and national scale, but he's a talent, and not just in basketball either. Higgins plays seven instruments, including the piano." In a separate evaluation, VirginiaPreps.com wrote of Higgins in July 2011:
Additionally, CapitolHoops.com ranks Higgins No. 44 in the class of 2013 in the D.C./Baltimore metro areas. Mid Atlantic Hoops ranks Higgins No. 95 in the region (consisting of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania). Meanwhile, DMV Elite evaluates Higgins as follows:The first two words that come to mind with Higgins are smart and heady. Not only does he play basketball well, but he also plays seven musical instruments, and his high IQ (GPA around 4.0 and SAT through the roof) as well as understanding of concepts has some Ivy League schools, such as Cornell, taking a close look at him. At about 6-foot-9, 200-pounds or so, he's a big body that's developing slowly but surely. Additionally, Higgins is kind of deceptive from a physicality standpoint because he doesn't look as strong as he is.
Strengths Long arms, changes shots Works hard on defense, hedges well on screens Good screen setter Needs To Improve Strength Keep the ball secure Offensive game and confidence Breakdown Tim is a long armed, shot blocker/changer who is constantly improving. He works hard on defense and sets very good screens. He definitely needs to add weight and increase overall strength. Also, securing the ball after rebounds is a must, too many turnovers by smaller guys smacking it away. Considering his improvement offensively, he is definitely a low DI prospect.While extremely early in his recruiting process, All Star Hoops Report noted that Higgins was hearing from a wide range of schools in the Ivy League, Patriot League and CAA at the time of his commitment.
The Cornell Basketball Blog had the opportunity to speak with Higgins' high school coach, Glenn Farello of Paul VI High School in Fairfax. "We are in what some consider the elite high school basketball conference in the country," said Farello who explained that his 2011-2012 team includes a starting five of three seniors and two juniors, each of which is a virtual lock to land in Division I when they graduate. "Tim is our first big man off the bench... last year he averaged about 4 points, 4 rebounds per game, shot 60% from the floor and had 2 blocks per game."
When asked to described Higgins' game and skill set, Farello told The Cornell Basketball Blog, "Tim's left handed, has a jump hook, runs the floor really well, likes to play fast, has a high basketball IQ, good feel for the game." He also added that Higgins was a reliable mid range shooter at 12-15 feet and stressed that his young post player was coordinated and possessed "good feet" for his size.
When asked about Higgins' needed areas of improvement, Farello said, "Well, he needs to get bigger and stronger, which he can.... He is not timid [though], he'll mix things up inside, he's willing to battle and [he is already] a good week side defender and rebounder." Farello added, "Right now Tim is 6'9" and 205 lbs... and I expect him to add another 20-30 pounds before he graduates [high school]... and who knows, he could be 6'11" or 7 foot before he is done."
In reaching these objectives, Farello explained that Paul VI has an established strength and conditioning program which Higgins actively participates in. "He is really a hard worker," said Farello.
When asked about his college recruitment, Farello noted that Higgins previously took unofficial visits to Princeton, Penn, Bucknell and Cornell, with the latter three visits all taking place in the last month. Farello noted that Higgins also attended Cornell's Elite Camp last year as a freshman and was also fielding steady recruitment interest from William & Mary, Mt. St. Mary's, Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth. Farello indicated that Bucknell joined Cornell in making early offers to the high school sophomore. "Tim and his family did their due diligence, they felt really comfortable with Coach Courtney and the entire Cornell staff, I've known the whole staff too for a long time, since Bill was at George Mason, and it was just a great fit for Tim, so it just made sense and Tim knew it was right for him."
Below, a special news report from January 2011 on Higgins from 9 News Now in Virginia.
Paul VI C Tim Higgins commits to Cornell
Tim Higgins has grown two inches and put on 25 pounds in the past year. He is now 6 feet 10 and 205 pounds, continuing to develop as an inside presence at Paul VI Catholic.
Panthers Coach Glenn Farello believes “the sky is the limit,” for a big player with good hands and a strong basketball intellect, noting the old adage that big men take longer than guards to reach their potential.
Still, as Higgins toured a handful of colleges last week, he knew he had found the school he wanted to play for and felt no need to wait and see if things changed. So on Sunday afternoon, Higgins committed to play basketball at Cornell after also considering Bucknell and Penn.
“It’s the perfect fit for me,” Higgins said. “One of my goals for a long time was to go to the Ivy League. My high school coach said, ‘If you’re dating a girl and you find the perfect one, what are going to do? Wait to marry her and find a few other girls?’ ”
Farello said it is his understanding that it is the earliest commitment ever for a player to an Ivy League school.
Cornell Coach Bill Courtney, who knows the Washington area well after serving as an assistant at George Mason, Virginia and Virginia Tech, has been recruiting Higgins for more than a year. Higgins attended a camp at Cornell last year and was especially impressed on his visit last week by the Big Red’s plans for him to work with strength coach Jay Andress.
“I had been to the weight room at the other schools, but I hadn’t met the [strength] coaches,” Higgins said. “They made a good impression on me with the strength coach. The success he’s hand in the past with other players in just tremendous.”
Higgins was Paul VI’s first post player off the bench last season and with all five starters returning, he will fill the same role this season.
“He’s got great hands, active around the basket,” Farello said. “He has a good feel for the game and great work ethic. A lot of times with big guys, they take time to develop.”