In an ever-shrinking big man pool in the class of 2005, centers and power forwards were becoming more and more coveted by college programs. So when Jonathan Mandeldove, a 6-foot-11, 215-pound center from Shiloh High School in Snellville, Ga., decided to sign his National Letter of Intent, one program knew they beat the rush for a long and lanky pivot man.
Mandeldove verbally committed and signed with Virginia Commonwealth last week during the early signing period. The big man decided to put his recruitment to rest as a couple of SEC programs began to turn up the heat.
The center, who scored 14 points, pulled 14 rebounds and had six blocks on Friday night, will play his college basketball at Virginia Commonwealth University next year. Mandeldove visited VCU last month and his only official trip was enough.
“I liked the coach and the team, they were a nice team,” he said. “They came together on and off the court. It’s a place where I can fit in and have success. I felt like they were committed to me so I needed to be committed to them. Other teams were kind of skeptical about me in the classroom, whether I was going to make it or not. So I needed someone that is going to be behind me 100 percent and they were.”
One of the key reasons was head coach Jeff Capel, one of the bring young coaches in the country.
“I have much respect for him. Playing for Duke under Mike Krzyzewski, (Capel) knows the game and I’m looking forward to learning from him,” Mandeldove said.
Mandeldove, who also considered Kent State and Middle Tennessee State, likes the direction VCU is headed. And the Rams are getting a player that has good interior defensive skills and a developing post game.
“I feel like they are picking up the missing pieces each and every year. They are trying to get better,” he said. “We’re becoming an elite team. People are going to know who VCU is. They aren’t going to ask who VCU is anymore. It’s a mid-major school but somebody has to put them on the map.”