David Rufful and Josh Riddle have achieved a dream that each had been imagining since very young ages. Although they have known each other for less than two years, the two freshmen on the Dartmouth men’s basketball team have had parallel paths to realizing their dream of playing Division I college basketball in the very recent past.
Rufful and Riddle attended Northfield Mount Hermon, a preparatory school in Mount Hermon, Mass., during the 2008-2009 school year. They were both on the basketball team at NMH, attempting to be further recruited by Division I programs.
“The PG decision was to develop further in both (basketball and academics), but mainly for basketball,” said Rufful.
Although they did not plan on continuing to play basketball at the same school, both Rufful and Riddle have found it beneficial to each of them that they are attending Dartmouth.
“Whatever I’m going through I know he is going through as well. It definitely relieves the stress with a good friend there for you,” said Riddle.
The two met after their decisions to go to NMH. During the summer going into their post-graduate year, coach John Carroll advised the two of them go to the Penn basketball camp together to get to know one another.
“That year really helped us mature and get ready for this type of situation,” said Riddle.
The situation is that both have made contributions to the Dartmouth men’s basketball team as freshmen. Rufful has played in all of the Big Green’s 18 games, averaging nearly 17 minutes and five points per contest. Riddle is sixth on the team in rebounds with 2.5 while playing more than 13 minutes per contest.
Rufful and Riddle made their decisions to come to Hanover separately, but not without each other’s influence.
“Playing together definitely made the decision much more comfortable because we were familiar with what the other was going through,” said Ruffle.
“Academics played a huge part,” said Riddle. “It was a great combination of athletics and academics. Plus the basketball team has great potential.”
Both Rufful and Riddle saw opportunities for them to play for the Green their first year. Coach Terry Dunn and his staff had built a strong relationship with the two of them during their recruitments, and that helped persuade them to Dartmouth.
“The coaches had faith in us that we could play early and be ready to play,” said Riddle.
While most students’ freshman experience involves moving away from home for the first time and learning how to live life with relaxed schedules. Rufful and Riddle had nearly every moment of their days scheduled for them at NHM. That support has helped ease the transition to Dartmouth.
“We had been away from home and taken care of academics,” said Rufful. “We were able to come in here with basketball on our minds.”
Being able to focus more on basketball has not prevented growing pains for the two. Rufful talked about the need to be more patient and run through the offense.
“I still have to adjust to the number of options on offense. I was the number one option in high school and was one of the top options at Northfield. Now I am coming off the bench. I just have to know my role on this team and what we are trying to do as a team on offense.”
“I am still learning to use my skills against a defender. In high school I was taller than everyone. Here, guys are bigger, and I have to know my strengths and use them to my advantage,” said Riddle.
Both Rufful and Riddle attributed the assistant coaching staff in helping them adjust to the college game and transform their individual play. Rufful said the coaches’ in-game advice is some of the most beneficial.
“They’ll take you aside and comment on your play, pointing out the details. I’m not so used to paying attention to that stuff. They really want to help you individually and make the team better; that comes through the details,” said Rufful.
For Rufful and Riddle, the decision to play at Dartmouth was subjective to the coaches, academics and the possibility of succeeding on the court throughout their Big Green careers.
Rufful summed up their ambitions and the vision they had coming to Dartmouth: “Our goal is to win the Ivy League and play in March. With a fairly young team with three freshmen (the third being Jabari Trotter) who contribute a lot of minutes, we think that it is a great possibility in our four years here. We saw that coming in here, and that excitement definitely played a part in our decisions.”