By Jeremy Balan
Early in the young basketball season and in University High School’s run to the NorCal Division V championship game last year, senior Noah Springwater has established himself as one of the best guards in the City.
Apparently others took notice, as Springwater has verbally committed to play for Columbia University next year.
The decision is one of only a few Division I basketball commits from City schools in recent years, but it was the combination of athletics, academics and familiarity that attracted Springwater to Columbia.
“First off, it’s D-I basketball, and it was my only D-I offer,” Springwater said. “My sister lives in [New York] and my brother lives in Boston, and I’m really close to my siblings. But I also have a really good relationship with the coaching staff and it’s a similar system to University.”
Columbia does employ many of the same principles that University head coach Randal Bessolo emphasizes, including a pressuring full-court defense. According to Bessolo, first-year Columbia head coach Kyle Smith first saw Springwater when he served as an assistant at St. Mary’s, where he was from 2001-2010.
“They use a full-out system and value versatile players who can pass, handle and shoot the ball,” Bessolo said. “He fits perfectly with the type of player they are looking for.”
The versatility will be key for the 6-foot-2 Springwater, who can run the offense as a point guard or can line up on the wing as a shooting guard.
“I’m not too concerned about where I play, because I think if you’re good enough, you’ll be out on the floor,” Springwater said. “I have a lot of room to improve as far as physical strength and conditioning. It’s a faster game with bigger bodies, but mentally I’d like to think I have an edge.”
Columbia, like all Ivy League schools, does not offer athletic scholarships, with the focus falling mostly on academics.
“It speaks to his values and proper priorities,” Bessolo said. “He was getting looks from scholarship schools, but at the end of the day, he wanted to go to the best academic school possible.”
Bessolo, who has also coached Springwater in club basketball with the Bay Area Warriors since he was in seventh grade, has seen him develop on the court and in life.
“He’s the first University player to play varsity as a freshman and he’s been exceptional the whole time,” Bessolo said. “He’s gotten better every year, but more significantly, he’s grown as a person and a leader. He’s the epitome of the type of student athlete we want at University.”