Having made her college decision last week, Arundel standout basketball player Alex McGuire is now officially at ease.
The 2003-04 All-Metro Player of the Year has accepted an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, deciding to play basketball for the Army Black Knights instead of at the University of Richmond and more than 80 other colleges that expressed interest.
"A couple days before, I decided I was so stressed out, but everyone said I should go where I felt most comfortable," said McGuire, who averaged 25 points last season to lead the Wildcats to their third state title while becoming the program's all-time leading scorer.
"When I visited West Point a couple weeks ago, I felt comfortable. The basketball team is very close and there's a lot of camaraderie."
With help from her parents, McGuire -- a versatile 5-foot-9 guard/forward who has a 4.0 grade-point average -- carefully calculated the positives and negatives each school had. She narrowed the field to 10 and then two, with Richmond a close second.
"She likes the uniformity West Point brings, and she's the type of individual who will do well in that environment," said her father, Steve, who played football for three seasons at West Point in the '70s.
With the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism, Steve McGuire said his daughter's decision was a challenge for him.
"We had two brief discussions, talking about carrying a weapon and the possibility of being shot at and having to shoot at someone. Alex is just very straightforward and she said, `Oh gosh, nobody wants to have to do that, but you have to know how to do it.' That took me by surprise."
Things are on the lighter side the past few days at Arundel, where McGuire is constantly reminded of her much-anticipated choice.
"We've been teasing her a little," girls basketball coach Lee Rogers said. "We salute her in the hallway, the teachers down here [in the physical education department] are walking in a straight line and cutting the corners sharp. She laughs and says, `I'm not gone yet.'"
McGuire is coming off a banner junior season and already has her name splashed all over the program's record book. She enters her senior season with 1,517 career points and, last winter, she set the single-season mark with 700 points.
Right now, she is focusing on volleyball as an outstanding hitter for the No. 2 Wildcats, who are off to a 2-0 start. But basketball is never far from McGuire's mind.
Just how much is she anticipating the coming season with the Wildcats bringing every starter back in a bid to win a second straight Class 4A state title?
A countdown to the first date of basketball practice is posted in a corner of Arundel's gym -- "Alex did that," Rogers said -- with less than two months left.
"I can't wait," McGuire said.