As the reigning leading scorer for The Weber School’s boys basketball team, 6’5” sharpshooting junior forward Harry Kitey will have to make what he calls “a tough decision” over the next year.
Does he focus his impending college recruiting tour on Division III schools, for which he would surely be an impact player upon matriculation, or Division I schools, for which he would hopefully attain walk-on status with the understanding that there may be limited playing time available? It is a question that generations of gifted and diligent student-athletes have faced as they weigh their post-grad options, trying to find a healthy equilibrium between athletics and academics.
Since cracking Weber’s starting lineup as a freshman during the COVID-truncated 2020-21 season, Kitey has made incremental improvements over the past few winters and is poised to, once again, pace the team in scoring and rebounding. He has proven capable of shifting back and forth from the power to small forward position—it’s certainly possible he could sprout a few inches more—and has worked feverishly to improve his ballhandling skills while remaining a threat from the perimeter with his step-back jumper. He has designs on playing at the next level, and now the only question is will it be for an Ivy League school (his dream scenario) or at a smaller D-III institution such as Emory University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or Yeshiva University?
“I think it would definitely depend on the coach because that’s honestly the reason I went to Weber,” said Kitey, a native of Sandy Springs who also plays varsity soccer for Weber when he’s not holding down the frontcourt for the school’s basketball team.
A few years back, when he was an eighth grader in public school and started exploring different options for high school, Kitey visited Weber, watched a boys hoops game, and met with the team’s first-year head coach Tasha Humphrey afterwards. Humphrey’s basketball pedigree spoke for itself—she was a former WNBA first-round pick following a career at the University of Georgia during which she was named an AP All-American four times—but what really stood out was her commitment to transforming Weber’s basketball program by championing year-round conditioning programs and instilling a greater sense of purpose in all teams—varsity, JV, and freshmen.
Now, three seasons and one pandemic later, Kitey has nothing but gushing praise for Humphrey’s tutelage and guidance during an unprecedented time in high school sports.
“Over the last three years she [Coach Humphrey] has been one of my biggest supporters and one of my biggest advocates in everything,” said Kitey, whose sister, currently in eighth grade, is planning on playing basketball for Weber next year. “Most people don’t get to be coached by a four-time McDonald’s All-American. It’s a unique experience. Without her as my coach, I don’t think I would be looking at playing in college right now.”
When asked to reflect on how Kitey’s game has evolved under her watch, Humphrey is quick to point out a freshman year anecdote.
“When he [Kitey] first came to Weber, he could not do a push-up,” recalls Weber’s esteemed coach. “I repeat, he could not do a push-up. But he’s spent a lot of time in the weight room and increased his strength and flexibility. I didn’t call him ‘Baby Giraffe’ for no reason. Due to him being so skilled, my biggest focus with Harry was developing mental and physical toughness, along with skill development. He’s a great player but like so many teenagers, he gets in his head and starts doubting himself. As a former professional athlete, doubt gets you nowhere. He’s a really tough kid but once he decides to be an aggressive basketball player, it will change his trajectory, and our basketball program.”
Last year, leading up to the 2022 Maccabiah Games in Israel, there were logistical problems preventing Kitey from attending tryouts. Without hesitation, Humphrey and her staff rushed to put together an hour-long tape of her star player’s performances for the coaches of the 16U Boys Basketball Team. Apparently, Humphrey, who’s regarded as arguably the most talented female basketball player to ever come out of Georgia, and whose late father Donnie Humphrey used to play for the Green Bay Packers, is an equally talented videographer as she is coach because Kitey ultimately got the invite to join the 16U boys squad.
“We pretty much got to see the whole country,” reflected Kitey, on his first trip to Israel for the Maccabiah Games, which culminated with his basketball team taking home a gold medal and then making the 1.5-hour drive over to Jerusalem to watch Lior Berman and the Maccabiah USA Open Men’s Basketball Team knock off France in the gold medal game. “It was an incredible experience, especially doing that with all these other athletes who are also Jewish from around the world. If you had told me a year ago that I was going to meet a bunch of Jewish basketball players from Argentina, Panama, and all these other countries, I would have told you that you were crazy. That whole experience changed my life.”
It was an incredible experience, especially doing that with all these other athletes who are also Jewish from around the world. If you had told me a year ago that I was going to meet a bunch of Jewish basketball players from Argentina, Panama, and all these other countries, I would have told you that you were crazy. That whole experience changed my life.
As for his stateside competition, things are looking more promising this season at Weber. After his team only won a single game during his freshman year, it crept closer to .500 with a 9-13 record last winter. This year, with Kitey averaging nearly 17 points and 10 rebounds a game, Weber is in the running for a berth in next month’s state tournament.
Irrespective of when Weber’s season ends, Kitey will be playing basketball well into the spring and summer. Basketball, whether in JCC leagues, select travel teams, or for the middle school, has always been in his blood and he looks forward to selecting a top tier AAU program to join prior to starting his senior year next fall. Such sterling competition, and the inherent opportunities for exposure to college coaches, along with Humphrey’s tireless outreach efforts to college programs, will likely be the main driving forces behind Kitey’s ascendance to college hoops.
“As a coach, you can’t help but get a little excited when you think about adding a player like Harry to your program,” notes Humphrey. “You think about the impact his versatility could have on your team and the potential he has as a player. He absolutely has the skill, size, and academic prowess to play in the Ivy League.
“Off the court, he’s probably one of the nicest kids you will ever meet. He has such an infectious laugh. He comes from an amazing family. His parents, Alan and Meredith, are phenomenal. He’s also a great student and peer leader and as a coach, what more could you ask for?”
- David Ostrowsky
- The Weber School
- Harry Kitey
- Division III
- Division I
- Ivy League
- Emory University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Yeshiva University
- Tasha Humphrey
- University of Georgia
- AP All-American
- Baby Giraffe
- Maccabiah Games
- 16U Boys Basketball Team
- Green Bay Packers
- Lior Berman