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Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin blazes unique trail to Golden State Warriors
In those five games he convinced clubs that he can compete with the talent that generally is not found in the slower-paced and less athletic Ivy League.
"He understands the overall game," said Warriors General Manager Larry Riley. " . . . He handles the ball well. He's one of those guys that has a chance to keep getting better in other phases of the game."
After the summer league, a number of teams showed interest. Lin said his agent, Roger Montgomery, presented him with the three best offers. Lin said he chose the Warriors over the Mavericks and Lakers because of location, style of play, his chances of making the team and the terms of the contract.
He reportedly signed a deal that guarantees him half his rookie salary, estimated at $500,000 -- a pact uncommon for an undrafted free agent. The contract has a team option for a second year and Riley said "we're looking at him to be with us beyond one year."
Golden State recently traded point guard C.J. Watson and needed a back up for Stephen Curry. Lin may be the answer. But like most rookies, he needs to improve in several areas, including his strength, defense and, most importantly, his outside shooting, Riley said.
The guaranteed money and Watson's trade are strong indications of Lin's chances of making the team and battling for minutes behind Curry.
"I'm a lifelong Warriors fan," said Lin, who is projected to move to point guard after playing shooting guard at Harvard. "In hindsight, not getting drafted was a blessing in disguise from God."
Lin has had to prove himself since high school. Named state player of the year by several publications, he did not receive a single Division 1 scholarship offer. UCLA, Stanford and Cal recruited him as a walk-on, but Harvard and Brown -- which, like all Ivies, do not award scholarships -- showed the most interest.
"It's hard to speak for the people who recruited me," Lin said. "In their defense, there were a lot of different risks for people to recruit me. I wasn't the biggest or most explosive. They just didn't know how my game would transfer for the college level. But I was disappointed and thought I had been overlooked."
He chose Harvard, where former Seton Hall and Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker was hired after Lin's freshman season. Under Amaker, Lin blossomed into a unanimous all-Ivy League first-team selection his junior and senior seasons. He briefly received national recognition during wins over Boston College and a 30-point, nine-rebound showing against then-No. 12 U-Conn. last season.
He endured frequent slurs during road games, including, a teammate told Time magazine, when a fan yelled "sweet-and-sour pork" during Harvard's loss at Georgetown last December.
But the Warriors see Lin's ethnicity as a marketing advantage in the Bay Area. The club is creating a campaign around him.
"If he didn't have the skill set to go with it, that's not something you want to get into," Riley said. "I felt it was most important that he'd be a basketball player first."
That's what Jeremy Lin wants too.