The coach of the Corona del Mar High boys’ water polo team is named Kareem, but his favorite basketball player of all-time is Magic.
Kareem Captan said he used to love watching former Los Angeles Lakers point guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson dish the ball around. Captan knows the importance of setting up teammates via an assist.
The same is true in water polo. This year, the Sea Kings have a player who Captan said is becoming one of the better all-around playmakers that he’s ever coached.
His name is Tyler Harvey, and he’s a big reason why the Sea Kings (5-0) are undefeated in the early season.
Harvey had four goals and three assists as CdM won the Long Beach Poly tournament on Aug. 31, beating rival Long Beach Wilson 10-8 in the final at Belmont Plaza. It was Harvey who scored the eventual game-winning goal for the Sea Kings with 2:35 remaining in the fourth quarter, after the Bruins had rattled off five straight goals to tie the score at 8-8.
“He’s one of those guys where you play in a game and then you look at the stat sheet, and you realize he’s responsible for pretty much all of your goals,” Captan said. “Whether it be a goal, an assist or an earned ejection, it’s just like, ‘Wow.’ He’s such a quiet kid, and he just puts his head down and does the work. It’s extremely impressive to see how far he’s come and how much he’s developed.”
Harvey is not the most heralded player on CdM; that would be UCLA-bound senior attacker Tanner Pulice. But Harvey’s father Scott, who also played at UCLA after stops at Esperanza High and Cerritos College, instilled a love of water polo in his only son. Tyler has an older sister Caitlin who also played water polo at CdM and his twin sister Sophia plays girls’ soccer.
Tyler said that he and some of his current CdM senior teammates, like center Gavin Reed and Aden Mina, started playing water polo in fifth grade at Newport Coast Elementary. They’ve come a long way from that point.
Harvey, in his second year as a varsity starter, is quiet and leads by example. He’s also a true utility player for the Sea Kings, someone who’s relied on to be a shut-down defender.
Pulice, who scored three goals in the final against Wilson, missed much of the summer with CdM due to U.S. Youth National Team obligations. It was Harvey who picked up much of the scoring load in various tournaments and on a training trip to Italy.
“I had to be more aggressive and my shot got better,” Harvey said. “When he came back, we had to learn and adapt to playing with him again. All of our puzzle pieces kind of connected, and we just started doing really well.”
Pulice said he appreciates the growth that Harvey has made in the sport. They started off their junior year playing together on the “one-two” (left) side, but Captan moved Harvey to the other side of the pool to spread things out and also for defensive reasons.
“He’s a team player,” Pulice said. “He’s able to make the people around him better, and it’s huge for someone like me, who wants to take a lot of shots every game. It’s a great asset and really lets me play to my full potential.”
Harvey said winning the Long Beach Poly tournament was important. The Sea Kings had three wins on Saturday, including a 15-2 quarterfinal victory over Walnut and a 12-5 semifinal win against Redondo Union.
CdM played all three matches without senior center defender Haig Mavusi, who attended the memorial service for former CdM volleyball player Matt Olson, who died Aug. 24 when he was struck while walking on the 110 Freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol. Olson was set to begin his freshman year at USC.
Mavusi was a close friend of Olson’s, Harvey said. CdM had players like Mina, Harry Rinker and Eamon Hennessey step into bigger defensive roles in his absence.
Harvey said the team dedicated the tournament win to Mavusi and Olson, as well as the entire CdM community.
“We really wanted to do it for our community, pretty much,” Harvey said. “We really wanted to win that last game for Haig.”
Harvey helped the Sea Kings get there.
Born: Jan. 12, 2002
Hometown: Newport Coast
Height: 6 feet
Weight: 165 pounds
Sport: Water polo
Coach: Kareem Captan
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite movie: “Step Brothers”
Favorite athletic moment: Scoring the go-ahead goal in the final of the Long Beach Poly tournament against Long Beach Wilson.
Week in review: Harvey had a team-best four goals and three assists, including the game-winning goal, as CdM boys’ water polo beat rival Long Beach Wilson 10-8 in the final of the Long Beach Poly tournament on Aug. 31 at Belmont Plaza.