Marc Narducci: An atypical way to accept a basketball scholarship
Camden Catholic's Nicole Angelo had some fun by tricking her future coach.
Linda Cimino's heart sank, and so did her mood, but it was only momentarily.
The Caldwell College women's basketball coach had been recruiting Camden Catholic senior point guard Nicole Angelo since her sophomore year and had offered her a full scholarship to the Division II school in North Jersey.
When Angelo called to reveal her decision, she decided to have a little fun with the coach.
"When she called, she played a prank," Cimino recalled, laughing.
Angelo told Cimino that she had bad news for her.
The coach's initial reaction?
Then Angelo blurted out that the bad news was that "you will have to put up with me the next four years."
It shows the type of relationship the two have fostered, for Angelo to be able to enjoy a lighthearted moment with her future coach.
"We have a relationship outside the coach-player relationship, so I decided to have a little fun," Angelo said.
It's not the typical way that a recruit accepts a scholarship. And Caldwell isn't getting a typical point guard, either.
The 5-foot-5 Angelo was a four-year starter for one of South Jersey's elite programs. While she has the requisite point-guard skills of passing and defending, Angelo also can score, having totaled 1,212 points and 412 assists.
In Cimino's up-tempo offense, a point guard who can stretch a defense is vital.
"She can knock down three-pointers, and the way we play, that will open the court for our big girls," Cimino said.
Angelo didn't make her decision until the day before she signed her letter of intent April 18. She wanted to be thorough. Division I schools such as St. Peter's and Campbell were in the mix.
"I was always so hung up on Division I basketball because of the full scholarship," Angelo said.
Then she realized that many Division II programs offer full rides, as well.
"My parents sacrificed so much for me to play AAU basketball with all the money and driving to tournaments, and I wanted to give something back to my parents for all they have done for me," Angelo said. "And it is such a great feeling to earn a full scholarship, and it's so humbling."
While she mentioned her relationship with Cimino and the fact that Caldwell is only about an hour and a half from her Mount Laurel home as major positives, Angelo also picked the school for its academics.
Angelo plans to major in communications, and would like someday to get into sports broadcasting.
"They [Caldwell] have a lot of connections with NBC in New York, and there are some very good opportunities coming out of college," Angelo said.
Her new coach predicts that Angelo will do well in her major.
"She's got the personality to excel there," Cimino said.
Cimino also might have put a little heat on her new recruit by telling Angelo she expects her to become the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference rookie of the year.
"We had three rookies of the year in a row before this past season," Cimino said. "I told her I expect her to be the rookie of the year."
Unlike when Angelo told Cimino of her college decision, this time there was no punch line. The coach truly expects a great deal from her coveted new recruit, and that's no joke.