The mens basketball team was embarrassed in the first round of the NESCAC tournament, losing to Middlebury by 37 (!) points. Even worse, star guard Chris Shalvoy ’08 is graduating. Recall Dave Fehr’s fears about the future of Eph hoops and the “Nesbitt Net.”

The Ephs, meanwhile, started 12-0 but are finding it difficult to win in their league and have dropped a total of five games at this writing, including two to Amherst.

So, of course, I’m convinced the sky is falling and I’ll never again see these two teams competitive, much less Williams competitive on a national level. The only flaw in this analysis is that I felt the same way a decade ago and was happily proved wrong. When the Mike Nogelo Final Four teams of ‘97 and ‘98 graduated, I figured that was it for Williams and any further NCAA hoops glory. A short five years later, the Ephs were national champs, and they almost repeated in 2004.

One thing has changed, however, as back then there was no Nesbitt Net, which is director of Admissions Dick Nesbitt’s and President Morty Schapiro’s increasingly fine-meshed screen that weeds out applicants, including star athletes, with “low” board scores.

What should Coach Dave Paulsen do? Come up with better plays? Presumably, he is as good a coach as he was five years ago when he guided the Ephs to a national championship. Paulsen knows that “players win games, not plays.” Sounds like he needs some better players . . .

Time call the Admissions Office! We need a star guard. And, good news! Help is on the way.

Lick-Wilmerding boys basketball coach Eliot Smith is trying to enjoy every moment. At some point in the next few weeks, four-year varsity point guard Marcus Wells will play his last game for the San Francisco school.

“My wife told me, ‘You only have a few more weeks and then it goes back to normal,’ ” Smith said after a recent game.

Playing in the anonymity of the Bay Counties League West, Wells is the best player you don’t know about – and he’s fine with that.

“He was the best player on the team when he was a freshman, but I didn’t start him because the other kids would have hated him,” said Smith, whose team is 21-7 and will host St. Bernard’s-Eureka on Wednesday. “Once I saw how he handled it, I knew I had someone special.”

Wells drew attention from some Division I programs, but opted for a similar environment to his high school – albeit across the country.

He will attend Williams College in Massachusetts, a 2,000-student school that won the Division III national championship in 2003 and is regarded as the No. 1 liberal-arts college in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.

“I really knew I needed to get a good education,” said Wells, whose father, Marcus Wells Sr., was an All-City defensive back on Lincoln’s 1979 Turkey Day championship team.

As much as Smith gushes about Wells’ physical ability, calling him one of the best he has had in 33 years, the coach continually talks about Wells’ character and the way he treats his teammates.

“We’ve been really lucky,” Smith said.

“I think it goes back to his parents. I think they taught him to believe, ‘This is my gift and the players around me have their gifts.’ “

Good stuff. Williams has a long tradition of excellent point guards going back from Shalvoy ’08 to Crotty ’04 to Nogelo ’98 to Harry Sheehy ’75. Wasn’t Peter Willmott ‘59, former chair of the executive committee of trustees, a guard and captain of the basketball team back in the day? Surely some of our older readers can tell some Al Shaw stories . . .

Anyway, Wells knows how to play.

For my money, Marcus wells is the most talented point guard in the city. He has more of an all around game than any other and would have been a clear d-1 choice if he’d gone to a school where sports is more of a focus than the academics (e.g., the WCAL). Avg 20 pts, 6 assts, and 7 rbs per game is impressive by any calculation. He may be going d-3 but he’s going to one of the best colleges in the country, that’s equally impressive since he had to qualify with his game and his grades both.

Indeed. Welcome to Williams.

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