That Austin Tillotson would make a verbal commitment to Monmouth was not exactly surprising. Months ago, Eastern York's rising senior point guard pinpointed the New Jersey college as one of his top choices.
That Andrew Nicholas (right), Tillotson's senior running mate at Eastern, would also be interested in the Hawks? That seemed a bit more unlikely. Even on Monday, the day the Golden Knights duo gave verbal commitments to the school, Nicholas admitted that his courtship by the Hawks "happened pretty fast."
So how did we get here? Let's explore...
With Tillotson (who unfortunately could not be reached this evening), the process was easy. Monmouth wasn't the first school to offer the 5-foot-11 point guard, but it was there all along.
"He had always compared everything to Monmouth," Eastern coach Larry Fisher said. "It got to the point that, if you're comparing everything to Monmouth, why aren't we just settling on Monmouth?"
With the Nicholas, the recruiting road was obviously a bit more winding.
Start last summer, when Nicholas verballed to Rutgers. We all know what happened after that: Scarlet Knights coach Fred Hill resigns amid controversy, and Nicholas re-opens his recruitment.
That's the backstory to the backstory. After that, Nicholas zeroed in on two schools: Penn State and St. Joseph's. The Hawks had been after Nicholas before he committed to Rutgers, while Nicholas labeled Penn State his top choice heading into July.
But midway through the month, both those offers dried up. The reason, Fisher said, was simple: Nicholas just had a bad month on the AAU circuit.
"Andrew struggled somewhat in July in terms of shooting the ball," Fisher said. "I don't think they were able to look beyond that much.
"They were expecting to see something that's a finished product. And Andrew's anything but that. He has a lot of work to do."
It didn't help that Nicholas' off-month came in July, an "open" recruiting month in which college coaches can make contact with high school seniors.
Monmouth coach Dave Calloway certainly wasn't scared off. "What he liked about Andrew was everything else he did when he wasn't shooting the lights out," Fisher said.
In mid-July, at an AAU tournament in West Virginia with the Jersey Shore Warriors team they both play on, Nicholas and Tillotson sat down to discuss their recruiting. It was that same weekend Nicholas received his offer from Monmouth.
For the first time for the pair, going to the same college started to become a real possibility.
Nicholas visited Monmouth on Friday, and came away impressed by the school's location (near the beach) and brand new $57 million arena.
Nicholas was sold then, but he waited for Tillotson to give his verbal in person at Monmouth Monday. Tillotson texted Nicholas a few minutes after his commitment, at which point Nicholas called Hawks coaches to give his pledge.
Monmouth certainly doesn't have the name value of some of the schools Nicholas was linked with throughout his recruitment. But Fisher thinks it could ultimately end up being an ideal fit for the sharpshooting southpaw.
"That league doesn't have a talent like Andrew from his spot," Fisher said. "They've got big guys, they've got guards. But he's going to be the exception.
"We'll know in two years maybe how great this is. This may turn out to be the place you were meant to be all along. "
York's Big Three?
With their commitments Monday, Nicholas and Tillotson joined Dallastown's Four McGlynn as the three YAIAA basketball players to commit to Division I schools this summer. McGlynn settled on Vermont in mid-July.
At one point or another, all three were linked with similar schools. Vermont also offered Tillotson, while several other Mid-Atlantic schools had expressed interest in at least two of the three players (Bucknell and Delaware come to mind).
One can't help but wonder what it would have been like had all three ended up at the same college. Imagine, Tillotson at point guard, distributing to McGlynn at shooting guard and Nicholas at small forward.
OK, so York County's Big Three might not quite stack up to the Lebron-Wade-Bosh ilk. But it still would have been pretty fun to watch.