Sporting Life

Bulldog becomes Wildcat

A Yale grad finds a new place to play basketball: the Big Ten.

Evan Frondorf ’14 is an Olympics research assistant at NBC.

Joshi Radin

Joshi Radin

Yale forward Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14 finished his degree, but had a year of basketball eligibility left. So he's getting a master's at Northwestern—and suiting up for their team. View full image

“I think they’re very good,” says Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14, talking about this year’s Northwestern Wildcats basketball team.

Then he corrects himself. “I think we’re very good.”

Kreisberg, who spent three seasons as the big man under the basket at Yale, is still getting used to his new identity. With a year of eligibility left because he sat out his senior year at Yale with recurring back injuries, he is preparing to play basketball in the Big Ten conference while pursuing a master’s degree in liberal studies at Northwestern. He hopes to play pro basketball abroad eventually, but for now, the 6' 10" center has put his international plans on hold for a chance to play against some of college basketball’s most elite teams. “It’s a great opportunity for him to finish off his [college] career,” says Yale men’s basketball coach James Jones.

Kreisberg wanted to keep playing for Yale, but the Ivy League prohibits graduate students from playing on varsity teams. Forced to dive into the chaotic college transfer pool, he looked for programs that offered challenging academics and the chance to play a significant role on a team at his full, injury-free potential. After hearing from more than 20 schools, he narrowed the list to Vanderbilt and Northwestern.

“Northwestern lost three ‘bigs’ to transfers, so their need became so much stronger,” Kreisberg explains. When given an offer by Wildcats head coach Chris Collins, the former Yale rookie of the year committed on the spot.

Kreisberg, a native of Berkeley, California, will join a Northwestern team with six incoming freshmen. “We understand we’re probably not going to be as good as Wisconsin or one of those Final Four teams just yet,” he says. But the Wildcats are hoping to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in their program’s history.

While trips to college basketball meccas and national television coverage await Kreisberg during the season, his biggest culture shock in the preseason was the resource disparities between his former and current schools. His Yale teammates can’t help but be a little jealous when they hear from their emissary in Evanston. “The first day he was there, he was like, ‘Yeah, we got a couple shorts, a couple T-shirts, a couple pairs of shoes,’” recalls Yale guard Javier Duren ’15. “And I was like, ‘Man, you haven’t even started practice yet!’”

Yet the predominant feeling on his old Yale team is pride for a devoted teammate. And Kreisberg has embraced his dual affiliations with his Twitter handle, @B1GIvy. As it happens, his Big Ten journey will feature an early trip back to his humble Ivy roots.

“Our second game is at Brown. Five years in a row at the Pizzitola Center,” he says, with irritation. “But at least now we get to charter a plane instead of flying commercial.”

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