Maalik Wayns couldn't help but scream in delight.
He treasured that play in the second round of the NCAA Tournament when Villanova's Dwayne Anderson made a headlong dive, in transition, to knock the ball free from a UCLA player.
No. 1, he recognized the effort as simply tremendous.
No. 2 . . .
"I knew coach [Jay] Wright would love it," he said. "That's the kind of stuff that matters the most to him.
"I was standing up for that one. And yelling, 'Yeah! Let's go!' "
Wayns, a star guard who a week from tomorrow will play in the McDonald's All-American Game in Miami, is still enrolled at Roman Catholic High. His heart already beats for the Wildcats, however, and he heads to the campus so often, they might as well give him a parking spot.
"How many times have I been up there? Phew, can't even count. A lot," Wayns said yesterday.
He addressed the subject of how 'Nova has already become the new site for Wayns' World yesterday at Prince Hall Elementary, at N. Gratz Street near Limekiln Pike, not far from La Salle University. With some Roman teammates, coach Chris McNesby and, yes, Ronald McDonald, Maalik was there to run a clinic for wide-eyed, receptive students.
Among them was Maalik's brother, Verland Jr., a chubby fifth-grader known as VJ and already the proud owner of serious ballhandling skills. Maalik, who won $1,000 for the local Ronald McDonald House as the clinic wound down, thanks to his threeballing skills, is a Prince Hall product.
Wayns said he did not attend Villanova's first two tournament games, but watched the first with Roman buddies and the second, at his house, with family members.
"I was a little worried in that first one," he said, "because American was doing a nice job. But 'Nova got it together and then did the job against UCLA, too.
"Their success is great for the school and for Philadelphia. And for players like me. You look at places like Texas and Oklahoma. Most of the kids in those states stay there for college because the programs are so good. In Philly, a real good player knows he can get everything he needs at 'Nova. It's national.
"I love the family atmosphere, and that it's close to home. It's a great place for any student, academically and athletically. Coach Wright is great, too. You can see how he keeps everybody together, and keeps pushing. He's able to fire up his players."
Wayns, who's thinking of majoring in communications, figures he visits campus twice a week and it sounds as if he has the run of the gym. He heads there for shooting sessions and takes along one of his AAU coaches, for rebound and throw-it-back-to-him purposes.
"I call the coaches a lot, and we exchange e-mails," he said. "And I talk to some of the players on AIM [instant messaging]. We already have a good relationship. Once I do get there, I'll be right in the flow."
But first . . .