Villanova transfer makes his mark on Colonials

Junior forward Isaiah Armwood wants an opportunity to show his worth on the basketball court.

But he’ll have to wait a season for that chance.

In 2009, after being ranked as one of the 50 best high school basketball players in the country by ESPN, Armwood headed to Villanova University to play for head coach Jay Wright. He envisioned himself as an important contributor for the championship-caliber team, but Armwood struggled to earn consistent playing time as a Wildcat. Despite serving as a captain for the team, he wasn’t earning regular minutes and he wanted a team that would give him a chance to shine.

“Coach Wright and I sat down and talked and he had plans for me and I had other plans for myself,” Armwood said. “We didn’t see eye to eye on how I should be played, so we decided to go our separate ways.”

Armwood left Villanova and headed to Foggy Bottom. A Baltimore native, Armwood wanted the opportunity to play closer to home, a desire that married perfectly with first-year head coach Mike Lonergan’s desire to bring more players from D.C. and its surrounding areas to GW.

NCAA transfer regulations force Armwood to sit out for the 2011-2012 season, but he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining and he can practice with the team. Armwood said it isn’t ideal to be on the sidelines, but he is grabbing court time the only way he can.

“It’s very frustrating, knowing that I can’t really get onto the court when games come around, it’s just a hard thing to deal with,” Armwood said. “But I will bring my best every day in practice like I’ve been doing.”

One of the most vocal players on the court, Armwood directs his teammates on their defensive assignments during inter-squad scrimmages. During stoppage of play, he pulls freshman and sophomore players aside, explaining how to best guard their matchup.

It’s clear his teammates already value his opinion. During practice, they fall into step with him on the court, taking the time to discuss footwork, plays, attacks. Armwood enjoys an easy camaraderie with the rest of the Colonials, laughing and joking with his team in between drills.

“I don’t think it’s hard at all to get along with these guys. All of the guys, like [junior guard] Lasan Kromah, [senior guard] Tony Taylor, [graduate student forward] Jabari [Edwards], they are all real easy to fit in with,” Armwood said.

His efforts as a teammate don’t go unnoticed. First-year head coach Mike Lonergan watches Armwood in practice, impressed not only by the forward’s relationships with the rest of the squad, but his athleticism, his drive and power.

In fact, Lonergan’s only frustration with Armwood right now is his inability to play.

“It’s going to be hard for him sitting out the year,” Lonergan said. “He’s one of the top two or three players every day in practice, our best rebounder, a great leader, he competes in every drill. He is really helping our team, even though he won’t be able to play this year. I couldn’t be happier with Isaiah right now. I just wish he could play.”

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