The stress of being recruited by colleges when you're a big-time basketball player can, at times, be overwhelming.

That especially applies to players such as Kennard-Dale senior Sara Tarbert, who is on pace to snap a few program records this winter.

So, it would be safe to assume that the 5-foot, 11-inch forward has some pressure off her back, now that she's finally decided on her college plans.

"Well, that's what people around school have been saying," Tarbert said Monday night. "But I'm always so intense during the season. I want to win. The pressure is slightly taken off but there's still that drive there."

Perhaps that inner drive is why coaches from the University of Maryland Baltimore County like Tarbert so much. The UMBC Retrievers were the only NCAA Division I school to offer Tarbert an athletic scholarship. It's something Tarbert couldn't turn down. She verbally committed to UMBC in October and officially signed her letter of intent last week.

"I told my coaches I wanted to stay close to home," Tarbert said. "I'm a very family-oriented person. Also, UMBC has a good nursing program, which I liked."

According to Rams' head coach Jeff Stratmeyer, Tarbert will become the first athlete in program history to play D-I basketball when she suits up for the Retrievers next year.

"She has worked very hard," Stratmeyer said. "She had the ability all the way back in the seventh grade. It was just a matter of her putting it all together."

Tarbert, 17, has some unfinished business remaining with the Rams this season. One of four returning starters to K-D, Tarbert is on track to become the program's leading scorer and rebounder. Tarbert's 1,337 total points currently sits third in total points behind Amy Eaton (1,351) and Kelly Bragg (1,434). Her 444 rebounds is third in program history behind Eaton (471) and Bragg (575).

Last season, Tarbert tallied 449 total points for an average of 19.5 points a game. She also collected 233 rebounds, 45 blocked shots, 70 steals and 49 assists. She helped the Rams finish 12-11 overall.

Nwandu: Northeastern senior Khalid Nwandu also recently signed his letter of intent to play D-I basketball.

The 6-foot, 2-inch guard intends to play college ball at Mount Saint Mary's, alongside York High grad Kelvin Parker, who is in his sophomore season for the Mountaineers. Nwandu verbally committed to the Mount over the summer.

Nwandu, who turns 17 on Wednesday, averaged 16.8 points a game for the Bobcats' boys' basketball team last season, helping the Bobcats finish 17-10. That average ranked second on the team behind Elijah Cooper's 17.2 points a game. Cooper is now playing at Lock Haven.

Nwandu (Bill Kalina)

Nwandu, who moved from Maryland to York County in the seventh grade, said the Mountaineers were the only D-I school to offer him an athletic scholarship. He'll become the first athlete in Bobcats' boys' basketball history to play D-I college basketball.

"It's nice to stay close to home. That way my parents would be able to see my games," Nwandu said. "And I have a lot of family down in Maryland."

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.