Committing to a college was a decision that Khalid Nwandu wanted to get out of the way as soon as possible.
Nwandu, a rising senior basketball standout for Northeastern High School, didn't want recruiting distractions to get in the way of his final season for the Bobcats.
Fortunately for the talented point guard, NCAA Division I Mount St. Mary's and its new head coach, Jamion Christian, were just as eager to get the 6-foot, 1-inch standout locked up.
After recently giving the Mount a verbal commitment, Nwandu can now focus on preparing for college while doing his best to elevate his game. Nwandu will be relied upon heavily this upcoming season, after many of his Northeastern teammates this past season graduated.
The Bobcats finished last year at 17-10 and advanced to the PIAA Class AAA state playoffs for the second year in a row. Replacing standouts such as Nwandu's older brother, Chris, and Eli Cooper, however, will be a tall challenge for a team that remains committed to fighting for PIAA berths.
While Nwandu won't be playing with his brother Chris any longer, he will, however, get the chance to help tutor his younger brother, Kobe, who will be a freshman.
We recently caught up with Nwandu to talk about his senior year and his decision to commit to the Mount for this week's edition of Sports Q&A.
Why did you want to make your decision to commit to Mount St. Mary's this early?
"I always wanted to make my decision early. Me and my parents talked about it since I was younger and I just always wanted to get it out of the way before my senior year, both for basketball and for school and academics. I just wanted to get it over with so I can just focus on my senior year."
What factors led to you selecting the Mount?
"I loved everything about it. Before I went there I talked with the entire coaching staff on the phone and then when I got the chance to meet them personally (I saw) that the coaching staff was great. I loved everything about my visit. Their style of play. ... I think it just fits me perfectly. They like to get up and down the court, which is a lot like we do at Northeastern. They like to pressure the ball and transition to get easy buckets. I think that will make it easier for me to transition."
What other schools did you consider before making your commitment?
"I got a lot of interest from East Carolina. Before Coach Christian came to Mount St. Mary's he was at VCU and they had a lot of interest in me too."
How do you and Coach Christian feel you'll fit in with the Mountaineers?
"We talked about this when I went there. I'll be able to pressure the ball and be the point guard and control everything. I'll learn from the other point guards when I get there."
What did you like about new Coach Christian?
"He's really excited to help rebuild this program. He's trying to get this program on a winning track and that's just something that I want to be a part of. I think he's going to do a really good job of it and he's really excited about the group of guys that he has coming in for this year, 2012, and for my class. From the guys I've seen and the guys I've played with, I think we'll have a really good chance of being a winning team."
Do you think you'll look forward to play ing with former York High standout Kelvin Parker?
"I really look forward to it. Both me and Kelvin have a lot of similarities in our game. We're both really long and both excel defensively. We can both score the ball and enable us to transition and get up the court for baskets. So I think it will be easy for us to play together."
What do you feel that you have to work on this year to possibly start as a freshman at the Mount?
"I definitely have to get stronger, and I already knew that, and my jump shot. I work on my jump shot every day and I see a lot of progress in it. So I continue to work on it. But there aren't too many other things that I want to work on. I think that if I focus on those two things and improve on my areas of weakness that I'll be able to start as a freshman, hopefully."
How do you feel about your Northeast ern team heading into your senior season?
"I think we'll do pretty good. We've been playing pretty well with the group of guys that we have. We have a lot of freshmen that will be moving up and they've been playing really good during the summer league. We'll make a run for states again, hopefully. We have a lot of confidence in our team and I have a lot of confidence in our guys."
How much does the way your junior season ended -- a loss to Holy Ghost Prep in the state playoffs -- fuel you and your teammates?
"A lot of our guys, that was their last game, so we were really depressed about that. When we got on the bus, we started talking and I said, 'Look, we're going for this thing again next year. We're going to get them next time.' Because we lost to them twice now in the first round of states and that's something that definitely fired us up to be ready for next year."
Who do you feel will step in and help the team next year after the loss of most of the starting five?
"I know that my little brother, Kobe, is going to step up and play this year. He's a freshman and we have some JV guys that will come up and they've been doing pretty well in the summer league too."
So you'll be in the unique situation where you played with your older brother, Chris, and now your younger brother, Kobe. What is that like?
"At our house, there's always competition in our backyard. We play a lot of 1-on-1, but during the season, I'll be able to tell him everything that I learned and I'll be able to make it easier on him (Kobe). Playing against each other, we already know each other's moves. And we already know how we like to work, so when we play together I think it will be easier."
How big of a factor has the return last year of Coach Jon Eyster been for you as a player?
"He's been big. I love Coach Eyster. We have a relationship where we can talk about anything on and off the court. He's a really good coach. He's been able to deal with a lot that's been going on with the team and he's good at doing the little things that bring us together."
What are your per sonal and your team goals this year?
"I haven't really thought about any personal goals. I'm more focused on the team. For our team goals, we definitely want to make a run at states again. We want to have another winning season, of course. Hopefully we'll just get on the court, have fun and give it our all every night."
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.