School is starting all over the country and before the top student athletes get settled into their classes, some are taking unofficial visits before getting into class. Jonathan Mandeldove, a 6-foot-11, 225-pound center from Atlanta, made it out to a Big 12 school over the weekend. He leaves for Hargrave Military this weekend and wants to have a decision by November.
Mandeldove signed with Virginia Commonwealth last year when he played at Shiloh High School in Snellville, Ga. However, after not getting the qualifying scores needed to be admitted, Mandeldove is going the prep route at Hargrave.
Now that his recruitment has been reset, he's seeing more and more high-major schools jumping in the race for his services. Missouri is one of them and Mandeldove spent the weekend in Columbia checking out the Tigers.
"It was nice. I wanted to get up there on an unofficial before I checked into Missouri and everything about it was nice," he said. "It a nice, nice arena there. The coaches are all really cool. I'm glad I went up there to check them out."
With a trip to the Big 12 school under his belt, Mandeldove said he'd like to get out and see some more of his suitors. His list is includes Wake Forest, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Xavier, Georgia, Florida Atlantic, Virginia, DePaul and Virginia Commonwealth.
"Now I'm ready to check out some other places officially because I want to know as much as possible about who I'm going to sign with in November," the big man said. "I want to get my decision out of the way early so I can focus on the season and getting better."
Mandeldove said he'd like to officially visit Connecticut, Memphis, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons may get a visit this weekend as the big man and his family drive to Virginia for school.
After committing and signing last year, Mandeldove knows how the recruiting process works. He knows what he's looking for and knows what questions to ask of coaches.
"I learned that I've got to be patient with schools and take it all in," Mandeldove said. "Now I'm taking all of the information from the schools and looking over all of the aspects that schools have."
"I've got to have the right feel. I've been through this before so I kind of know what to expect. I'm a huge college basketball fan. I watch games all of the time so I kind of know how schools use their big guys. So now the big part comes from listening to everyone's offers and taking it all in. In the end, I'm the man that has to put my name on the papers and sign the letter. I'm trying to stay as open-minded as I can."
Open-minded and focused, Mandeldove said his recruitment wouldn't be loaded with big-timers had it not been for his work on the summer circuit with the Atlanta Celtics. For a guy that barely cracked the varsity rotation as a junior, he's come along way.
"It was a good year, a good summer. I think that Houston (for the Kingwood Classic) trip really stood out," Mandeldove said. "I had a chance to stand out in the big time college world. Before that trip people didn't know who I was. It really made my summer. Before then, I was moving straight forward and now I'm moving up and up. All kinds of schools have been calling. It's been a lot of fun."