The 6-foot-10, 230-pound skilled forward had routinely gone up against guys much smaller than him in the post – sub-par competition that didn't exactly push him.
However, Van Nest has answered nearly all of the questions in the past year after making the decision to attend Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.).
``He came to us with great skills in place, but he needed to step up everything to get to the next level," Northfield Mount Hermon head coach John Carroll said. "The best thing about him is he's ego-free about his game."
Van Nest has gradually watched his confidence and toughness improve. That'll happen when you go up against Michael Beasley, the massive South Kent frontline and numerous other high-major big men in the NEPSAC Class A slate.
``Now I know I can bang with anyone," Van Nest said. "I did it against Beasley. Not necessarily that I can score on him, but I'm on his radar skills-wise."
Van Nest finished out the season averaging 12 points and 5.5 boards, but those numbers are certain to increase this season – his senior year – at NMH. Carroll said that the team this season is designed around Van Nest and Simon McCormack.
``It's going to be fun," Van Nest said. "It'll give me a chance to step up."
Van Nest, who played with the New England Playaz this spring, has offers on the table from the likes of Northwestern, Davidson, Richmond and UMass. His plan is to take unofficial visits in June to Virginia, Princeton, Pittsburgh, Harvard, Penn and Northwestern. Vanderbilt and Miami have also expressed interest.
Both of his parents come from strong academic backgrounds and Van Nest boasts a 3.1 GPA and an 1800 on the SAT.
``I'm wide open right now," Van Nest said. "It's a tough decision and I'm not sure which direction I want to go."