Todd Singleton used to think about playing college basketball at a school like Yale or Cornell, but never at a national power such as Duke. His impeccable academic standing at Old Mill could get him into any of those schools.
As for basketball, Singleton, who played two years of varsity at Old Mill and averaged 10.0 points and 6.5 rebounds for the 12-9 Patriots his senior year, says, "When I decided on Duke, I pretty much reserved myself to playing rec ball, playground ball around Durham [N.C.] and didn't think I would ever get a chance to play for the big team."
He wasn't recruited by Duke or any other major Division I team, as was blue-chipper Steve Wojciechowski, the former Cardinal Gibbons standout. Wojciechowski, of Severna Park, has stepped in and become the Blue Devils' point guard as a freshman.
Singleton, who had a 4.0 grade-point average and Scholastic Assessment Test score of 1,270 and was named to The Baltimore Sun for Anne Arundel Academic-Athletic Team, received an academic scholarship to Duke. He took off for Durham to major in engineering with hopes that the Blue Devils might hold tryouts.
A rash of injuries to scholarship players made a tryout in search of bodies for practice and scrimmages a necessity.
"In late October, I saw an ad in the paper for tryouts and my friends encouraged me to give it a shot," said Singleton. "I went out in early November with about 80 others and got to play a little. When they called me afterward to be pretty much a practice player, I couldn't believe it."
Singleton got to sit on the bench during games in a coat and tie. A couple weeks ago, he was told he would become an official member of the team. The transfer of former Virginia-area star Joey Beard to Boston University at the semester break necessitated a replacement, and the 6-foot-6 and 185-pound Singleton became the Blue Devils' 13th player.
Singleton was to be in uniform last night for the first time at Cameron Indoor Stadium as the Blue Devils played host to South Carolina State. His role will be that of a perimeter player who is fundamentally sound defensively.
"The transfer of Joey impacted the decision to put me on the team, and I'm pretty excited," Singleton said from his Severn home before returning to Durham on Saturday.
His high school coach, Paul Bunting, was "pleasantly surprised," and pointed to Singleton's great athletic ability that earned him a state high jump championship as a junior.
"Despite his height, Todd played point guard extremely well for us and is an outstanding young man, who brings intelligence and class to the floor," said Bunting.
The Blue Devils returned home Sunday from a holiday tournament in Hawaii and practiced with Singleton as an official member of the team for the first time.
"I'm not worried about playing time and just want to keep improving, so that before I graduate I will be starting," said Singleton. "I accept my role as a sub to relieve the tired players and will do whatever I'm asked.
"It's been a great experience and my teammates have embraced me. Coach K [Mike Krzyzewski] is a motivator, enthusiastic and a great teacher. Our practices [about two hours a day] are very serious and we play hard all the time. I like that."
A very active student-athlete in high school, Singleton was a member or officer in most of his school's prominent clubs and groups such as the National Honor Society, Student Government, Math team, Unity Club, yearbook staff, Congressional Young Leaders Conference, Future Business Leaders of America, Peer Helpers and several church groups.
Often he volunteered for the Special Olympics, homeless shelters and as a therapeutic counselor for the mentally challenged. Listed among the Who's Who Among American High School Students, Singleton received a commendation from the National Achievement Scholarship Program for Outstanding Negro Students.
"Playing on the basketball team shouldn't affect my academics, because I intend to keep up with the books," says Singleton, who is carrying a 3.92 GPA at Duke. "The academics are not as rigorous as I thought and I can definitely compete."