As members of Severna Park's 8-to-10 Green Hornets' basketball team, Norman Nolan and Steve Wojciechowski withstood the pressures of opposing defenses, once earning co-MVP honors.
Seven years later, the two are helping each other face the pressures of deciding which Division I programs are best for them.
They are 17-year-old seniors at different high schools. Nolan is a 6-foot-8, two-time All-Metro center at Dunbar, and Wojciechowski is a 5-11 guard at Gibbons. They are the area's top prospects with a combined 11 of the nation's top basketball programs courting them.
"I talk to Steve frequently. In fact, I talked to him at 11:30 this morning," Nolan said from his home Sunday night, just hours after bidding farewell to Providence coach Rick Barnes -- the third of six college coaches scheduled to visit him.
Before Barnes, Bobby Cremins (Georgia Tech) visited on Friday, and Jeff Jones (Virginia) came by on Saturday. Rollie Massimino (UNLV) is coming tomorrow night, followed by Steve Fisher (Michigan) on Thursday. Nolan said P. J. Carlesimo (Seton Hall) is expected next week.
"I've developed pretty good relationships with the coaches over the last few months. It's difficult to pick just one," Nolan said. "People can tell you to take this one or that one, but when you get right down to it, you've got to choose for yourself."
Nolan said Maryland "was a serious consideration" until early this summer. Though the Terps still have one remaining scholarship, Nolan said Maryland's chances were hurt when the Terps signed 6-9 Joe Smith (Norfolk, Va.).
Wojciechowski dismissed the Terps, whom he said "were looking for a big man." But since Sept. 13, five coaches have visited his Severna Park home -- Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Dean Smith (North Carolina), Brian Mahoney (St. John's), Jan van Breda Kolff (Vanderbilt) and Dave Odom (Wake Forest).
"Besides Norman, there aren't that many guys around I can relate to about this. We get inside each other's heads, find out what each of us thinks," said Wojciechowski, who said he'll likely orally commit before the NCAA's early signing date (Nov. 10).
"I'll get a good idea about which school is best for me, then I'll decide," said Wojciechowski, who aver- aged a team-leading 13.2 points and also led the Crusaders in assists (164), steals (113) and three-point shots (68).
Both need only to keep their grade point averages above 2.0 for NCAA freshmen eligibility. Nolan, a B student, scored an 18 on his ACT. Wojciechowski, an A student ranked third in his class, scored 1050 on his SAT and 26 on his ACT.
Nolan, who led Milford Mill to the 1A state title in 1991-92 and did the same last year at Dunbar, says he will sign in the spring.
"The coaches know I'm signing late. I don't know how intense the phone calls will get, but I can handle the pressure," said Nolan, who ranked second in scoring (18.1) and first in rebounding (12.3) at Dunbar.
The recruiting scene is new to Wojciechowski, who, unlike Nolan, has not been under the microscope since his freshman season.
A first-team All-City pick last winter, Wojciechowski didn't start turning heads until the June camp at Five Star's Honesdale I. He earned the Sportsmanship Award, Most Outstanding Player and Mr. Hustle.
The July issue of Hoop Scoop magazine cited Wojciechowski for drawing "all kinds of comparisons to [former Duke University guard] Bobby Hurley as a number of big-time coaches watched his every move."
The praise is great, Wojciechowski said, but the process can be overwhelming. "Some days, it's real tough. Others, I'm real happy with it. But I don't want that pressure during the season. I want to be able to enjoy each day for what it is," Wojciechowski said.
"I've enjoyed each home visit, and if two schools are neck-and-neck, I should be able to handle it and I won't rush my decision," Wojciechowski said. "I'm still learning to deal with all the attention, but Norman's known for two years that he's going big-time."
Nolan raised eyebrows during the summer before his junior year, scoring 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the Orange and White All-Star game at Five Star's Honesdale II (Pa.) camp. Two months ago, Nolan earned MVP honors at Five Star Pitt III camp in Pittsburgh. He entered his final season listed on the fifth team for the Class of '94 in Basketball Times magazine.
"I enjoy the attention, but I think he'll [Wojciechowski] agree he's had to work harder to get the recognition," Nolan said. "It's not over yet, but he's worked hard all his life, and I think he's starting to realize it's paying off."