6'8" junior power forward Davis Nwankwo (North Bethesda, Maryland) took his first official visit of his college recruiting process the weekend of March 1 when he traveled across the country to see Stanford. The D.C. big man had previously held Stanford and Michigan as his top two schools, but held some reservations about the distance to the California campus, and how he might fit in a potentially different environment. Now that he has had time to digest his first ever trip to The Farm, The Bootleg is proud to be the first to get the scoop on how he enjoyed his trip.
"It was great," Nwankwo exclaims. "I just loved it. The campus was beautiful, the weather was nice and the people were great. It was better than what I expected. I couldn't believe it."
The junior from Georgetown Prep arrived in the Bay Area Thursday night, but did not set foot on campus until Friday morning, at which time the 48 hour clock began for his stay during this official visit. Friday was spent touring the campus, going to classes with players on the team, and meeting with Stanford staff. Saturday of course included the big game against Arizona, which he raves about.
"It was an awesome game. The crowd was loud, and I loved hearing them chanting my name before the game," he admits. "Everybody was jumping around - just an awesome atmosphere. Unfortunately it was a tough loss, but it was great. I watch a game like this both as a fan and also as someone analyzing the basketball. I didn't think the big men had as much of an impact in the game as they have in some other games, but I can see how I would fit on this team. I could make a big impact on the defensive end; I make it hard to penetrate. And on the offensive end, I could add some rebounding and create some one-on-one plays. I think Stanford would be a great basketball fit for me."
Nwankwo also went to watch a Stanford water polo match with a University administrator, which had a greater impact on him than you might think. "Of course the fans are going to come out for the Arizona game, but I liked seeing a lot of student support at something like water polo. It shows me how the campus get behind their teams," he postulates.
When asked what was his favorite part of the official visit, he didn't give the prototypical answer for a Stanford recruit. He didn't cite professors, a golf cart tour or even the electric Stanford-Arizona game. No, Nwankwo says that the parties he attended on campus with the guys on the team were his most memorable part of his weekend. "The parties were pretty cool, and I got to dance with some pretty cute girls," he reveals. Overall, the sought-after junior speaks highly of his time and fit with the guys who might potentially be his future teammates, and that was not lost on him. Stanford often elicits images of eggheads to recruits who have not met the players, and that stereotype was smashed during this trip. "I found out the guys are just like me," Nwankwo answers. "They play video games, go out to movies and hang out together a lot."
As you move down the checklist of what this athletic forward wanted to discover about Stanford, just one category remains: distance. For answers there, Nwankwo went to fellow D.C. big body Rob Little. "Rob and I talked about the distance, and he says I won't miss being away from home at all. They make you feel comfortable at Stanford," he explained. "He also told me I can go home during Christmas, Thanksgiving and spring break, which was good to hear," Nwankwo reports. "The distance is no problem for me now. My parents are still a little shaky on the distance, but they're of course going to be that way anywhere I could be away from home. I'm their child and they'll miss me. But they take their lead from me, so if I say I'm okay with the distance, they'll learn to be okay with it."
Talking more and more with Davis Nwankwo, you get the sense that he's awfully high on the Cardinal after his trip. He confirms that suspicion when the conversation turns to recruiting, in spades: "I'm absolutely loving Stanford right now. Right now, they are number one on my list. I found some things on the visit that make Stanford the best fit for me. They have good academics, a great basketball team and guys I can fit in with. My schools behind Stanford would be Connecticut, Notre Dame, Arizona, Maryland and Georgetown. They're all together - about even. I don't know if I'll take another visit yet or not. Notre Dame is recruiting the hardest right now and really want me to take a trip this spring. Maryland and Georgetown are also pushing official visits. But my next steps are to take the SAT again in April and get my Stanford application in. The [Stanford] coaches and players really made me feel like they wanted me, and that makes me want to work harder studying for the SAT. I have a tutor I'm working with, and I meet with her two or three times a week right now. My goal is between 1100 and 1300. I'd like to commit during the summer or beginning of my senior year."
When you look at his list of schools, the most notable omission is clearly Michigan, who throughout the fall and winter has been a co-favorite with Stanford. Nwankwo did not want to elaborate on the demise of the Wolverines, but he says they are dropping in his eyes.
After that April 5 SAT, basketball will pick back up for the Maryland big man as he begins the spring and summer surge of AAU action. Nwankwo will again play for the D.C. Blue Devils, alongside top local post players like Roy Hibbert (Georgetown commit) and Peter Prowitt (Stanford commit). Their first major tournament will be the big Boo Williams Invitational in Hampton, Virginia (April 11-13). This is one of the top two national spring events, and where many recruiting gurus start setting their summer rankings... not to mention where college coaches get a narrowed focus on their recruiting targets.
Speaking of Prowitt, Nwankwo is well aware of the 6'10" fellow junior big man's commitment to the Cardinal last week. Many recruits will be turned off when a similar player makes the move to a school of consideration, but this forward is high on the prospect of playing with the local center. "I've known big Peter since probably the eighth grade, and he's a great guy and a great player," Nwankwo relates. "It makes me want to go there [to Stanford] even more to know that we could play together. I think we could be a great frontcourt combi