Englishman Metcalfe opts to go for the challenge

English 6-10 power forward Alan Metcalfe says he chose Vanderbilt Wednesday over two smaller schools ultimately for the challenges it would provide, both academically and athletically. The big man talks about his college decision and his past seven months of living in and adjusting to the United States.

Alan Metcalfe, a 6-10 power forward from Notre Dame Academy in Middleburg, Va., committed to Vanderbilt Wednesday after narrowing his long list of schools down to St. Bonaventure, William & Mary, and the Commodores.

Originally from Manchester, England, Metcalfe decided to transfer to the United States for his senior year of high school in an effort to earn a college basketball scholarship. He was accepted by Notre Dame Academy, where he contributed 12 points and 7 rebounds per game to a team that went 20-8 and won the Virginia Independent Schools state championship.

Metcalfe spoke with TheInsiders.com earlier this week about his decision and his past seven months living in the United States.


Q: When we talked earlier in the week, you were very conflicted about your decision. You ultimately decided on Vanderbilt. How did you go about making that final decision?

Alan Metcalfe: I just thought Vanderbilt's academics would challenge me the most, and playing in the SEC was going to challenge me the most as far as basketball playing. So the overall package, I thought, was going to give me the biggest challenge. It was a bigger challenge than going into a smaller program and being able to play more.

Q: You said you were going to talk to your parents about the decision, and your coach over in England. How did that go?

Alan Metcalfe: It went well. I didn't get a chance to speak with my coach, but my Dad had already spoke to him though. He gave me some information on what my coach had said. He said what I was already thinking, but I think hearing it from my Dad helped me a lot. He just relayed all the information to me that we already knew. His first question was, do you want to play professionally? And my answer is yes. And he said, then you need to go to the place that is going to push you the most. So we felt that Vanderbilt was the best option.

Q: You said your Christian faith was going to play a big part in your decision. What faith are you exactly, and did that end up influencing your decision after all?

Alan Metcalfe: I'm a Pentecostal, born-again Christian. My mum was like, try and find someone at each school you visit, even if you only get one chance to talk to [about your faith], just in case you do go to that school. So I did that on my visits. I found at least one at each school. A few of the guys at Vanderbilt were into the faith there, which was good.

Q: Have you sent in all your paperwork yet?

Alan Metcalfe: I'm in the process. They're FedEx-ing the papers to me today [Wednesday]. They've got to send some stuff to my parents as well, since I'm an international.

As an underclassman Metcalfe played for the Manchester Magic, a club team in England.
Q: It had to be quite a new experience, coming to the United States for your senior season. What's that been like for you?

Alan Metcalfe: At the start it was really hard getting away from my family. I had never been to the States before, and this was the furthest I've ever been away. I've had to adjust to the culture. Everything here is so much bigger, it was really difficult. But my family was always behind me, which was good.

The basketball style is different too in England and Europe. It's not as above-the-rim as it is in America. There's a whole lot more athletes over here. So that was a bit difficult to adjust to as well. But once I got settled in, we got on a bit of a roll toward the end of the season. We won the state championship, which was obviously a good thing after coming over in my first year. Championships, you can't really ask for more than that. That was a big thing that topped off the season for me.

The whole lifestyle is completely different. Here I drive to school 45 minutes-- in England I was five minutes away from my high school. Having to get up 45 minutes early is a bit of a pain! But it was worth it. I wouldn't change it for the world. Not at all.

Q: You've lived with an American family for the last year?

Alan Metcalfe: I lived with my coach, Larry Cullinane, at the start of the year. These last few weeks I just moved in with one of the guys from my high school. Now that the season's finished, there's more to do in Leesburg than there was in Charlestown. We have a lot of laughs. I get along with my live-in family really well. They've been great to take me in for the rest of the year.

Q: How are you planning to spend the summer?

Alan Metcalfe: This summer I'm going to go back home and try and work out with the Manchester Magic. John Amaechi [former Vanderbilt, Penn State and NBA star from Manchester] is back there also, so I'll probably work out with him. I've never really lifted weights that much, and obviously I've got to get bigger for next year. I'm sure [Vanderbilt] will give me a routine to go through. I really do want to go see my parents. I've only seen them for one week over Christmas.

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