A European vacation turned out to be Isaiah Armwood's farewell tour with Villanova.
Armwood, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward from Baltimore, decided shortly after the Wildcats returned from their foreign tour this week that he would be transferring from the Big East school.
"Me and Coach [Jay] Wright sat down, I'd say three or four days ago. We made the decision -- the best decision for me -- to transfer and leave Villanova," Armwood told Recruiting Report today. "It was very hard. I didn't want to leave because I've been there for so long. I'm so adapted to the people there."
Armwood, a Montrose Christian grad, played sparingly as an underclassman. He averaged 2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 17 minutes per game as a sophomore for the Wildcats. But heading into his junior season, Armwood was named a team captain and started every game for Villanova overseas this month. The Wildcats played five games in France and the Netherlands from Aug. 9-14."There was a good chance I was going to start" this season, Armwood said. "I just wanted to have an opportunity to get to the next level. I thought the best opportunity was at a school other than Villanova."
Armwood, who's back in Baltimore now, said he is leaning on his parents and high school coach – Montrose Christian's Stu Vetter – for advice in picking a new school. There are five programs that Armwood is currently interested in: George Washington, Iowa, Maryland, Texas Tech and Virginia.
Armwood said he hasn't "really talked to Maryland yet," but he "always liked" the school growing up.
"Being from Baltimore, Maryland has always been a big school," Armwood said. "They've got a new coaching staff, and they're just rebuilding the whole team and program. … I could maybe see myself fitting in with what they're trying to build."
George Washington is the other program on Armwood's list that's close to home. The Colonials are led by Mike Lonergan, the former Vermont coach and Terps assistant who's in his first year in Foggy Bottom. GW's coaching staff is a definite draw for Armwood.
"[George Washington assistant] coach [Pete] Strickland recruited me out of high school [when he was at North Carolina State]. Coach [Kevin] Sutton, he's an assistant coach and I've played against him many times [when he was the coach at Montverde Academy in Florida]. I know him very well. I'm real familiar with what they do. I think that would be a good possibility."
Iowa's in the mix thanks to assistant coach Andrew Francis, a former administrative assistant/video coordinator on Wright's Wildcats staff.
"[Iowa's] a lot like Villanova, the way they do things," Armwood said. "I like the way Villanova did things."
"The coaches are real good and they're in a real good conference," Armwood said. "I could see myself fitting in with the way they play, running the high-low offense."
Virginia, meanwhile, made contact with Armwood today.
"They're in the ACC obviously," he said. "I don't know much about them, but that's another school I'm considering."
Armwood plans to pick a new school "in the next couple of weeks." He'd like to be able to visit a couple campuses, but he's not sure if that's possible because of the impending start of the school year.
"The process is just talking to the coaches, seeing what they have to offer, seeing what schools best fit me and everything," Armwood said. "It's more about basketball than the school or the campus right now. … I just want to be able to exploit everything I can do. I don't want to be limited in any things I can do."
McClatchy-Tribune photo of Isaiah Armwood by Ron Cortes / Jan. 15, 2011