Prior to the 2005-06 boys basketball season at Walter Johnson High School, former Wildcats coach Bill Morris could not help but notice Carl Yaffe.
Yaffe, a non-descript and average-sized freshman, did not stand out initially. As tryouts progressed, however, one thing was clear: Yaffe could shoot the basketball.
“This kid kept shooting the ball and never missing,” Morris said. “So, we kept him on the [junior varsity] team. He grew of course — improving his rebounding and ball handling skills — but he never lost his shooting touch. By the time he was a senior, he could play outside and inside.”
Last month on Nov. 18, Yaffe’s name became written into the New York University men’s basketball record books.
In the championship game of the NYU Tip-Off Tournament against John Jay College, Yaffe became the 28th player in program history to surpass the 1,000-point plateau following a jump shot 43 seconds into the second half.
“That was a dream come true,” said Yaffe, who has 1,097 career points. “Coming into college I was just hoping for the best. …. I was just hoping to be a part of the team.
“[The milestone] would come up in conversation, but I wasn’t paying attention. … When I was a bucket away, I realized it. My roommate [senior guard Kyle Stockmal] got the assist. He looked at me and he knew.”
Following high school graduation in 2009, Yaffe, who now stands at 6-foot-8 and 220-pounds as a forward, looked at several Division II college programs, but eventually found the perfect fit and enrolled at Division III NYU and contributed immediately as a freshman starter.
Since, he has helped the Violets to a pair of Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III Metropolitan Tournament — the Division III equivalent of the National Invitational Tournament — and a second-round appearance in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
This winter, NYU (6-1 record), which competes in the University Athletic Association, is ranked 21st in the country in the D3Hoops.com national poll and Yaffe, one of four senior starters, leads the team in points (17.0), rebounds (8.6) and minutes (33.9) per game.
Yaffe, who said he would remember the relationships with his teammates and coaches and road trips the most from the college experience, hopes to play professionally in Europe following graduation in May and eventually utilize his degree in hotel and tourism management.
His younger brother Bert (Walter Johnson Class of 2011) plays at Macalester (Minn.) College and Yaffe’s former high school teammate, point guard Nash Oh, plays at UAA rival Emory (Ga.) University.
“Carl and I haven’t talked in awhile, but I keep up with him through the NYU website,” Morris said. “The thing about Carl is that he’s very humble and you would never know he was a great basketball player, but yet he is a star.”