CHICAGO — America's First Fan is a huge supporter of Harvard University sophomore guard Alex Nesbitt.
"If we were to pull off an upset, [the president] would know about it and be excited for sure," said Alex Nesbitt, 20, who starred for the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools for two seasons.
Nesbitt walked-on at Harvard last season, when the Crimson ended a 65-year drought and reached the NCAA tourney. Harvard (19-9) repeated as Ivy League champions this year, ensuring them a second straight trip to the Big Dance.
Nesbitt is a backup point guard and economics major. He played in 17 of Harvard's 28 games this season, seeing the floor for 57 total minutes.
"I've been watching him all year long," said Nesbitt's coach at Lab School, Troy Caldwell. "He definitely has represented the City of Chicago well and been a great ambassador for us."
Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said Nesbitt was "part of our sophomore class which we consider the nucleus of our team." Caldwell said Nesbitt was one of the smartest and hardest-working players he had in six years of coaching at Lab School.
He also noted that Nesbitt, whose Hyde Park-based family has been tight with the Obamas since the 1980s, has never asked for special treatment.
"He's very humble," said Caldwell, of Bronzeville. "You would never know the connections he has by meeting him. Nothing's ever been given to him.
"Beyond basketball, when he's through playing, you can tell he's going to be a great leader."
Nesbitt said he rarely contacts the president, instead waiting for Obama or someone from his office to "shoot me an email or pass a message on to me."
"He's really busy, obviously," Nesbitt said. "My ties to the president are separate than my basketball experience, but both have been great experiences for me."
Nesbitt said he hasn't had a chance to watch New Mexico (29-5) much since Selection Sunday.
But he's hoping Harvard's experience from last year's tourney (a 79-70 loss to Vanderbilt) helps the Crimson this time around when the teams tip off at 8:50 p.m. Central time.
"We're pleased to be given the opportunity to play in the tournament," Nesbitt said. "It's been very rewarding to see how this season has paid off."