Pressure Building for Davis Nwankwo

There has been much to-do lately about the rising recruitment of D.C. area big man Davis Nwankwo, who has risen to become one of the hottest recruits in this 2004 class. In particular, Stanford fans have fretted over the report of Nwankwo's official visit later this week to Arizona. Indeed, West Coast fans have learned to fear Midnight Lute the last 15 years in such circumstances, but we have the definitive story...

This much is true.  Stanford big man recruit Davis Nwankwo is indeed taking an official visit this week to Tucson to check out his hottest offer school, Arizona.  In fact, the Georgetown Prep senior will be getting on a plane in a day, arriving to the desert Thursday night and then setting foot on the UofA campus Friday morning.  It is an oft-employed strategy for West Coast schools bringing in distant recruits for official visits.  The NCAA sets a 48-hour clock for the duration that a recruit is allowed to spend on campus, and by not setting foot until the morning, that gives the recruit the depth of two more nights of activities.  Indeed, Nwankwo will be in Tuscon through Saturday night and not depart until 6 am Sunday morning.

But the report that the longtime Stanford low post recruit has Arizona as his leader is not quite the whole story.  I spoke with the "Next Justin Davis" last night to get a clear read on his entire recruiting picture.

"Arizona is pushing really hard right now," the 6'9" senior begins.  "They have great athletics and I get along great with the coaches.  But Stanford is my dream school.  They are definitely my top two right now."

You may remember that during the winter and spring last year, Nwankwo's recruitment primarily consisted of Stanford, Georgetown, Maryland, UConn and Miami.  Arizona was sniffing around.  But a surge came in July, which might surprise you if you took a look back on the power forward's summer camp and tournament appearances:

  • July 5-10, Indianapolis, Nike All-American Camp

That's it.  And he did even less in the spring, when he skipped several events to work on his SAT and ACT preparation for Stanford's admissions process.  While college coaches were following recruits of interest to every corner of the country in May and July, they had just one all-star event to see Nwankwo.  But he made the most of it, earning recognition as one of the top performers at the entire camp.  "I think I showed coaches about my toughness," the recruit reflects.  "I was on a really good team and I was fortunate to get a lot of touches.  Then in the three-on-three games, I played really well."

That was enough to sell several top flight programs, with offers coming down from Arizona, UCLA, Virginia and Georgia Tech - all in late July.  Though some schools have since received commitments or moved their focus elsewhere, which leaves Nwankwo with the following final five schools: Stanford, Arizona, Georgia Tech, Miami and Virginia.

He of course took his official trip to Stanford way back in February, and visit #2 came early in April to Miami.  That makes this week's trip to Arizona his third, and the final two remain for the last pair of schools in his top quintet.  One official visit was set for the first weekend of October to Georgia Tech, but that has been moved given a very important conflict on October 4.  Davis Nwankwo will have his final SAT retake that day.  And board scores to boost his Stanford admissions chances are the highest topic on his mind these days.  In addition to the 10/4 SAT, he will also take the ACT on 9/27.  Somehow, he and his family will also take an unofficial trip to Virginia that weekend as well.

"I talked with Coach [Mike] Montgomery last week and he told me they loved my application," Nwankwo says of his completed Stanford admissions materials, which he submitted in July.  "I had finished the application at the end of the school year, but we held on to it for a while to look it over and really carefully review it.  But Stanford says they love my transcript and my essays.  I think I just need 50 or 60 more points on my SAT.  Or maybe get a 23 on the ACT.  I got a 20 last time."

Though most basketball recruiting discussions surround playing time, style of play, and the confines of a college campus, Nwankwo is one who is enthusiastic to talk about the tests that so rule his world these days.  "I think I should pass them," he says of the upcoming board tests.  "I'm much more comfortable taking them than last year.  A lot of it comes down to time.  The ACT has easier questions, but you have so many to get done in just a little time - like 60 in 20 minutes.  And the math section has like 75 questions.  But I've been working with my tutor and I'm learning a lot of the cheats and tricks to move faster through questions.  The SAT is harder, but we are getting me ready for both."

It's pressure time for most recruits, and college coaches as well, right now though.  Nwankwo would not have either test score until at least the middle of October.  With an official trip to Zona coming more than a month before then, it is a ragged road he must navigate in the interim.  The burning question in fearful Cardinalmaniacs' minds, though, is whether he could make a commitment to the rival Wildcats before he can get his standardized test submitted to Stanford and complete his admissions application.  Worse yet, could he be wowed by Midnight Lute this weekend and make a verbal commit to the Cats?

"No way," he answers to that possibility.  "I have to talk with my coach and my parents before I do anything.  That just won't happen."

But is it possible he could feel the need to commit somewhere before he gets his final board scores to Stanford?  "That's definitely possible," Nwankwo offers.  "If there is something I see that I really like and just can't pass up, then I might have to.  But I really want to wait for Stanford.  I'll do anything to go there.  I know that I can get my scores after two weeks, if my counselor calls up to get them.  I don't know how it will all play out.  It's a lot of pressure.  I'm just waiting for things to come in place."

"It feels great to be wanted," he says of his enviable options.  "But it will be really hard to let schools down when I make my decision."

As one final note, the lean Davis Nwankwo we have brought you in pictures from his visit last winter do not tell the full story of what his happening as his young body is filling out.  Then weighing in at 218 pounds, the 6'9" senior now tips the scales at 237 pounds.  Though most high school basketball programs are just rolling into their preseasons, Georgetown Prep has been working for more than a month now.  And they have a personal trainer for the team who is working Nwankwo and his teammates hard.  "I feel great," he comments.  "I'm getting more physical with my game."

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