Life in the spotlight is something Nick Faust has grown accustomed to throughout the past year.
In that time, the 6-foot-5, 175-pound senior shooting guard from City has played on the Comcast Center floor with the Knights, traveled coast to coast with a Nike-sponsored basketball team, and listened to Maryland fans chant his name as he sat in the M&T; Bank Stadium stands while the Terps' football team battled Navy last month.
But none of that prepared Faust for Thursday, when he revealed his college commitment during a live broadcast on ESPNU.
"It was very nerve-wracking," Faust said in an interview at The Baltimore Sun. "But I got through it. ... I've been waiting a long time, my family's been waiting. It feels good to make the decision."
Faust's decision was to continue his basketball career at Maryland, giving the Terps a centerpiece for their 2011 recruiting class.
Over the past year, Faust has helped his high school team win a state title, been recognized as a Top 50 player by all the major scouting services, and had the luxury of choosing from a number of quality scholarship offers from Division I schools. While the path that led to Faust's Maryland commitment may have appeared short, it's been a long time coming, say those who know him best.
"Nick could always play. It's not like a new thing," said Carlton "Bub" Carrington, Faust's AAU coach with Nike Baltimore Elite. "Most kids, when they're real good at 8, 9, 10, they hit a wall a little bit because basketball is a sport that's not the only thing going on in their life. He kind of hit a wall around 13, 14, and then he bounced back like the champion I thought he was. Nick always could play. Like a lot of kids, they grow early. Kids get stuck in that body, and then he just got blessed that he caught that late spurt. Four or five inches will take you over the top."
A timely growth spurt only enhanced Faust's developing game. He kept those ball-handling skills cultivated playing the point in youth basketball, and at the same time grew into a devastatingly effective shooter with NBA range. When Faust decided to transfer from John Carroll to City before his junior year, Knights coach Mike Daniel found out quickly that he had a future Division I player on his hands.
"He showed that he would be a good college player when he got here. And then it just built from there," Daniel said. "ÃƒÆ’Ã‚â€šÃƒâ€šÃ‚â€¦ Gradually, he became better and better, his consistency was raised, and the rest is history. We definitely became the benefactor of that. And Nick played big in big games. That's what colleges are looking for. What do you do at the Big Dance? Nick showed time and time again that he accepted that challenge. He's ready to get it on."
After leading City to its second consecutive Class 2A state championship on Maryland's home court, Faust -- who averaged 19.7 points and 5.3 rebounds as a junior -- returned to Carrington's Nike Baltimore Elite program for another run on the circuit. While Faust's high school performance earned him an initial wave of scholarship offers, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, Maryland, Marquette, Memphis, Villanova, West Virginia and a host of other high-major schools came calling based on his summer play.
"What I saw was a guy who clearly had something to prove, and it was time he took full advantage of it," said Dave Telep, a senior college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. "From the NBA [Top 100] Camp through the end of the summer, he really shot the ball exceptionally well. When the best players were on the floor, that's when he was at his best. ÃƒÆ’Ã‚â€šÃƒâ€šÃ‚â€¦ It's almost like the question becomes, how did he get under-hyped? He's in a major metropolitan area. It's almost like we overhype so many guys, and a guy like Nick Faust comes along and it's just really refreshing."
Telep said Faust -- who he projects as a three-year starter -- is best known for his ability to shoot the ball. But he also possesses a "sly athleticism," can get to the rim, and is a "much better passer than he's given credit for." Faust, who joins Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) point guard Sterling Gibbs in Maryland's 2011 class, is expected to vie for immediate playing time with the Terps as a freshman. Carrington thinks that's a reasonable expectation given Faust's versatility.
"He could always bounce it, always put it to the deck and always go to the rack," Carrington said. "He was always fearless. He always played hard. And then he started shooting the cover off the ball. He never stopped attacking. I think that's what separates him. He's not just a shooter -- he's a scorer. He can really score the basketball."
As the summer dragged on, and Faust drew rave reviews from scouts on a weekly basis, he became an increasingly important recruit for Maryland. When the Terps added Baltimore native Bino Ranson -- who Faust said he's known since he was 9 -- to their coaching staff in June, the stakes were raised even higher. Suffice it to say Faust was feeling just a little bit of hometown pressure from Maryland fans to pick the Terps.
"I think they wouldn't have been too mad [if I committed elsewhere], but maybe a little upset," Faust said with a laugh.
Once he arrives in College Park in the fall of 2011, Faust will join a Terps squad that loses point guard Adrian Bowie, shooting guard Cliff Tucker and power forward Dino Gregory (Mount St. Joseph) to graduation, but will return a nucleus built around small forward Sean Mosley (St. Frances) and center Jordan Williams. It's a situation Faust can't wait to join.
"It was a great thing for me," Faust said. "It felt like everything I had done over my whole life was achieved. Deciding on Maryland was just a great thing for me and my family. I felt like I had to give back to Maryland."