In only one year, Ime Archibong ’03 has made the transition from being a little used reserve on the men’s basketball team to becoming its captain.

Archibong, the Elis’ most-improved player this season, was introduced as the team’s new captain Saturday night at the men’s basketball team’s annual banquet. The Greensboro, N.C., native — elected by a secret ballot of the team — will replace graduating center Neil Yanke ’01 as the team’s leader.

“I am definitely excited,” Archibong said. “It is an honor, but it is also humbling to know that the people on the team that I look up to also look up to me.”

Traditionally, a senior holds the position of captain, but since there are no members of the Class of 2002 on the basketball team, the election of a rising sophomore was expected. It was not clear, however, whether Archibong or Chris Leanza ’03, the team’s point guard and leading scorer, would receive the post.

“I can’t lie. Obviously I was [disappointed]. Being captain is a great honor,” said Leanza, who felt Archibong’s selection was a worthy one. “Ime has worked harder than anybody I have ever been a teammate with.”

Archibong, who said he voted for Leanza, said his classmate was at a disadvantage because a shoulder injury sidelined him for most of the team’s practices this year. An important part of being captain is motivating teammates at practice, and Leanza had a limited opportunity to do that this year, Archibong said.

“These things are always really close,” Yanke said. “I kind of figured it would have been [Archibong or Leanza]. But just because Ime won, it doesn’t mean people are going to expect any less leadership out of Chris, Bill [Parkhurst ’03], or T.J. [McHugh ’03].”

Archibong’s rise to the captaincy is the culmination of a year that saw him steadily improve into one of the team’s best players.

“He is probably the most improved player in the Ivy League this year,” head coach James Jones said. “That is something people can look up to and try to emulate.”

During his freshman year, Archibong saw little playing time, averaging only 4.3 minutes a game. He scored only 21 points the entire year.

This season, Archibong broke into the starting lineup in the team’s sixth game of the year and stayed there the rest of the way. Archibong found his niche as a strong defender, often shutting down the opposing team’s leading scorer. At the offensive end, he electrified crowds with his monstrous dunks and demonstrated the ability to score in bunches, highlighted by a career-high 27 points against Cornell.

“[Ime’s example] shows us all that no matter how little we thought we contributed, we have to do everything we possibly can over the summer in order to help the team next year,” Scott Gaffield ’04 said.

Archibong said his main task will be “setting an example, showing people what hard work is all about.” But Archibong knows he cannot do it alone and expects all of the team’s returning players to lead by example.

“Everybody has to take a piece of the leadership pie,” Gaffield said. “Everyone needs to lead by example everyday in practice.”