There may not be a more surprising big man in the country than that of Jonathan Mandeldove.
The 6-foot-11, 215-pound center from Shiloh High School in Snellville, Ga., shined at the two biggest evaluation events in the country this month and now the soon-to-be fifth year big man is seeing his recruitment explode.
The one-time Virginia Commonwealth signee is looking for a prep school as a host of schools turn up their interest level for the center from the Atlanta Celtics.
After watching the three-star prospect at the Southern Shootout in early April, we wrote:
"Mandeldove is a good shot-blocker that changes the way teams attack the basket. He isn't the strongest player around and opponents have little trouble powering through (him). However, Mandeldove sticks to his plan and will finish the game with five or more blocks, double digit points and rebounds.
Grades kept the high-majors away after last summer but with a good senior campaign and daily improvements, the big man could land on his feet at a high-major school after getting it done at a prep school."
The big man lived has not only lived up to our early evaluation, he's exceeded it and now he's got a chance to land on his feet at a high-major program. Mandeldove was one of the bright spots for the Celtics at the Real Deal on the Hill, coming up big on the defensive side of the ball. At the Kingwood Classic, he showed off his ability to block shot after shot.
Offensively, he's still putting it together but he keeps the ball high with his long arms and doesn't deter from scoring anywhere other than five feet from the basket. His confidence level is at an all-time high. Perhaps has dozen or so blocked shots against the D-1 Greyhounds, featuring O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker, two five-star prospects in the class of 2007, had something to do with it.
"I'm definitely more confident. I'm playing well and I'm not worrying if I'm doing anything wrong. I'm just playing," Mandeldove said. "I try not to give my coach a reason to yell at me or take me out of the game. I don't want to be a waste of space out on the floor."
Playing in a packed house at Westfield High, Mandeldove went to work against the Greyhounds. His blocked shots in the closing minutes of regulation was one of the many reasons why his Celtics team took the young phenoms to overtime. However, Mandeldove said he wasn't rattled playing against some of the nation's most electrifying players.
"I read up about those guys and I know who they are and what they do. But you have to remember, that wasn't the first time I've played against the No. 1 player in the country," he said. "I used to play against Dwight Howard and Louis Williams is in my region. I haven't had to worry about that kind of pressure. That's what I told the rest of the guys on my team. I'm like this isn't a big deal. We just have to play our game."
"I think I did open up some doors and people are starting to recognize me," Mandeldove said.
And that's why so many high major programs are starting look a little closer now, too. Playing well will do that. And being a hair under 7-feet never hurts either.
Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Kent State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Marshall, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, UAB, Wake Forest and Xavier have all turned up their recruiting efforts a notch. There is one school, however, that seems to be high on his wish list.
"I'd really like to hear from Illinois," the Chicago native said. He moved to Atlanta just before he enrolled in high school.
As his recruitment reaches new heights, the big man is still in the process of looking for a home at a prep school next year. Hargrave, Fork Union and South Kent look to be the top possibilities right now.