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Haverford School's Special Freshman Takes a Long Trip Every Day

Sammy Foreman is among the top ninth-grade point guards in the country.

wasn’t a morning person. He became one, though. He’s grown accustomed these last two years of rolling over every morning and slamming down on the alarm clock each time it wakes him up at 5 a.m.

It’s one of many sacrifices the exceptional 5-foot-11 freshman point guard makes daily, something a little unusual.

Haverford School is experiencing a renaissance on the basketball court. The Fords are 10-3 overall and 1-0 in the highly competitive Inter-Academic League. Their 10 victories equal the sum of their total number of wins last season. Tao Xu, the 6-foot-11, 265-pound transfer student from China, has had something to do with that. But at the eye of this resurgence is Foreman.

He makes a three-hour roundtrip commute from his home in North Philadelphia to the bucolic Haverford School campus weekdays. It’s trying, exhaustive, yet Foreman chose the high-academic school over other schools.

He’s considered one of the top 10 freshman point guards in the country. He’s averaging 14 points and six assists a game, but more importantly, he adds a level of maturity that belies his age and buoys the young Fords, who have two freshmen (Foreman and Levan Alston Jr.) and a sophomore (Eric Anderson) that receive considerable playing time.

Fords’ first-year coach , the school’s all-time leading scorer and a senior on the 1999 Haverford School team that last won an Inter-Ac title, received a nice jolt last year as to how mature Foreman is.

A group of players were gathered together on campus commiserating about stats and goals one time when Fairfax was walking by. They were teasing Fairfax about breaking his all-time school scoring record, when Foreman, then an eighth-grader, blurted out, “Forget those records, when I’m a sophomore or junior, we’re going to be one of the best teams in the country.”

The last phrase resonated with Fairfax, one of the best teams in the country, one of the best teams …  

“I thought that was, coming from an eighth-grader, very, very mature,” Fairfax said. “Knowing we’re nowhere near one of the best teams in the country, I was still very impressed by that. That showed me Sammy isn’t about numbers, he’s about winning and about team. And remember, he was in eighth grade then. That showed me a lot of maturity for an eighth grader.

“I don’t know if there is a better freshman in the Inter-Ac,” Fairfax continued. “Obviously, that’s coming from a bias. But it’s more than just basketball with Sammy. He was at Haverford School last year, and for a whole year he’s been making the commute. I know what it’s like, because I did it from West Philly to South Philly every day to Neumann, which is now Neumann-Goretti, every day.

“The commute does test your resolve. But that’s a testament to Sammy. Because he had much easier options; he had schools around his area that would have readily accepted him. But Sammy sees things beyond basketball, and further on in life. Haverford School provides that education. He came from a public school before he arrived at Haverford. This was going to be a lot different for him, socio-economically, and that makes his situation not too dissimilar than mine.”

Fairfax is the standard Foreman upholds in front him.

“I see what Coach Fairfax did and how it benefitted him from going to Haverford School,” Foreman said. “It is a challenge. It’s a completely different world, especially going from a Philadelphia public school to a top private school. There were some issues with the commute, but otherwise, I’m glad I’m doing this. I see a bigger picture. I’m not going to Haverford School for basketball. I know making it to the NBA would be great, but not many do. I know going through Haverford School, I’ll be in a better place after basketball.”

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