The month of April is a tense and exciting time for a nation full of aspiring prep hoopsters, as they showcase their wares at a series of regional and national AAU events which college coaches are allowed to attend. Those evaluations will translate into offers for some, and heightened interest for others, but Georgetown Prep's Davis Nwankwo already has a head start on his recruitment and his mind on some other events. He took his highly anticipated official visit to Stanford the weekend of March 1 and afterward told The Bootleg that the Cardinal had become his favorite school. This month now brings Nwankwo to the next big steps in his Stanford recruitment.
That started last Saturday (4/5) when he retook the SAT in an effort to raise his score from a poor performance he logged back in December. He took the first test at a time when he was traveling for an early season tournament and later admitted that he did not put in any time or care to really prepare himself. Since then, the Stanford coaches have educated, if not hammered home, the message that he needs to achieve a very solid score to garner admission to the University. The athletic 6'8" junior from North Bethesda (MD) feels better after this second attempt at the test. "I think it went OK," Nwankwo allows. "I felt much better prepared and think I should have a much improved score." The testing service these days allows a student to learn their score as quickly as two weeks afterward, and Nwankwo is intent on paying the nominal fee the ETS requires to discover his score at the first possible moment (4/19).
As he passes the next eight days waiting for that score, he is working on his Stanford admissions application, which he says is "just about done." The Cardinal coaches are telling him they want it finished at least by the end of the month, but a good bet is that Nwankwo will complete and submit it earlier than that. "Right now I'm just having someone at my school look it over to see if I can improve it in any places," he adds.
But perhaps the biggest event for the D.C. junior comes today, when Stanford head coach Mike Montgomery is coming to visit him and his parents at his high school. A recent NCAA rule allows college coaches to visit a recruit and his family at their school during a window in April, for a duration of one hour. Montgomery will be the first such coach to visit with the Nwankwo family, and it will be an important impression he makes on the parents. They are fond of Stanford's academics, but did not travel with their son Davis for his official visit and did not experience the impact of the campus, weather, coaches and professors. "We're all really looking forward to Coach Montgomery's visit," the younger Nwankwo exclaims. "It's really exciting. My parents still have questions about the distance, though, and that will be much of what they want to ask him." Obviously, the assurances Montgomery can deliver to his hesitant parents will go a long way toward Stanford's success in this recruiting battle.
Nwankwo says that Stanford is still "at the top of [his] list," even though more than a month has passed since his visit. In talking with him, it appears that very little of his enthusiasm has dissipated, putting the Cardinal in a position of strength today. The premier power forward even says that a commitment to Stanford could come if the pieces come together in the coming weeks. "If this visit goes well and if my SAT and application allow me to get admitted, there is a huge possibility I could commit to Stanford," he reveals. "It's a very real possibility."
Beyond Stanford, Nwankwo has several other schools hot on his trail. He says that Connecticut and Arizona are the heaviest in their efforts today, with the Huskies requesting an official visit from him and talking about an imminent offer. Nwankwo also says that Notre Dame "is coming along." The two local powers, Georgetown and Maryland, both tell him that offers are waiting for him, though the 6'8" forward is not all that keen on staying so close to home. Nevertheless, Georgetown is a place where he practices a lot and has a number of interactions with players and coaches.
Though this recruiting is fast approaching a climax, basketball still goes on and will still be a big part of Nwankwo's spring and summer. He is playing with the D.C. Blue Devils again this year, which is being touted as one of the top AAU teams in the country this year. In the frontcourt alone, Nwankwo will be playing with top forward James Gist, plus two talented centers in Peter Prowitt and Roy Hibbert. Hibbert is committed to Georgetown and Prowitt committed to Stanford last month. That is a crowded frontcourt that will unlikely be matched in talent and depth by any other AAU team in the country this year. That raises the level of competition within the team for minutes. "Everybody is making a big deal about us because of who we have," Nwankwo says about the Blue Devils. "It's been quite a commotion and people are expecting a lot from us. I know I'll be able to contribute on both offense and defense on this team, but you'll have to earn your time with performance. I also think chemistry will be a big part of who plays when."
Even though this weekend's Boo Williams Invitational tournament in Hampton, Virginia is the first big event of the AAU season, the Blue Devils have been practicing together for more than a month, three times each week. This is a key time for development for Nwankwo, and he says he is intent on improving his shooting range. But it also is a lot of time spent with the other members of the team, including Stanford commit Prowitt. Nwankwo says that the 6'10" center talks about the Cardinal at every opportunity. "I see Big Pete every time at practice and it's always 'Stanford, Stanford.' He can't stop talking about 'em. He just loves it out there, and I love to hear that from him. I've known Big Pete since we were in the sixth grade, and he would be a great guy to play with," the uncommitted forward opines.
Another update on Nwankwo's summer plans, he is very excited to report that he just received an invitation to the USA Basketball Festival in Colorado Springs (CO). It will be held this year from June 25-29 and will be a collection of up to 48 of the nation's top preps. Though many are high school juniors, the group also includes some of the best seniors in the 2003 class who slip under a certain age threshold. It is a big honor for Nwankwo to receive this invite, and bellies the high regard with which he is nationally held today.
Note: Due to the Montgomery visit, Davis Nwankwo will miss some of the Blue Devils' opening games at the Boo Williams this we