As of this morning, even those closest to Darryl Reynolds ?12 had no idea what he would decide. By this afternoon, they were talking about carpooling to games.
In front of an adoring throng of family, friends, former teammates and coaches, Reynolds decided to continue his athletic and academic career close to home.
"I've decided to take my talents right up Lancaster Avenue," said Reynolds during Tuesday's press conference in the Downs Gymnasium. "I chose Villanova because I felt as though it was the best fit."
Reynolds, a 6'8 forward who helped lead the Aces to the 2012 state finals and an undefeated Central League championship season, capped a whirlwind recruiting process that heated up considerably during the last 12 months. A late bloomer who didn't start playing basketball until high school, Reynolds garnered several mid-major offers following his impressive senior season at Lower Merion and elected to expand his options with a year of prep school at Worcester Academy (Worcester, MA). Reynolds anchored the front line for a Hilltoppers squad that finished 21-6 in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference, one of the nation's best prep leagues. In the process, his recruiting stock continued to soar. On Tuesday, Reynolds chose between Seton Hall, South Carolina, Utah and Villanova -- all major Division 1 opportunities.
?These were all great opportunities and I?m thankful to all the coaches who recruited me,? said Reynolds, ?I just feel blessed to have the ability to make a decision like this today. Villanova is a tremendous school and obviously a great, historic program with an excellent coaching staff. I?m excited to get started.?
A dominant presence in the paint, Reynolds averaged 11 points, 8.2 rebounds and an area-best 4.2 blocks per game during his senior season at LM and boosted those numbers to 15 points, 11 rebounds and 5.3 blocks in the playoffs. He earned All-State and All-Southeastern PA honors and was a first-team All-Central League and first-team All-Main Line selection. In addition to his on-court skills, Reynolds is known for his leadership, work ethic and character. Immediately following this year's state title, the current Aces lined-up one-by-one to embrace Reynolds and implored him to join them in cutting down the nets in a post-game ceremony at Lower Merion.
?Darryl played a huge role in this year?s gold medal,? said Aces head coach Gregg Downer. ?It?s rare that you have a teenager who?s ready to lead, but he grew into a great leader. He set the tone for this group in the locker room and through his outstanding work ethic. Even this year, he came back and practiced with us during winter break and made sure the guys knew what his expectations were. We wanted him to be part of that championship celebration.?
On Tuesday, Reynolds thanked a host of people who played an important role in his journey thus far, including his parents Rabia and Darryl, his coaches and friends and Aces Nation.
?Lower Merion is like my mecca,? said Reynolds. ?It will always feel like home.?
Reynolds is the first Aces player to attend Villanova. He becomes the third player under Gregg Downer to play for a Big 5 school, joining Garrett Williamson ?06 (St. Joseph?s) and Ryan Brooks ?06 (Temple). Staying local, however, was not the key factor in Reynolds? decision.
?I would have gone to the University of Alaska if it was the right place for me,? said a smiling Reynolds. ?Villanova is an excellent academic institution and I think it?s great opportunity [for me] to step in and make an impact [on the court]."
And ?lucky for his loved ones and Aces Nation ? it?s just down the road.