FORT WALTON BEACH – Stanford, OU and Penn State.
That’s how Nadia Fingall’s top three schools looked entering her senior year at Choctaw.
Then the 6-foot-3 power forward recently made her official visits. Cue the family discussions.
“It was really about talking with my parents the entire time,” Fingall said. “It was about how I felt about the visits and the schools after-ward.”
The choice was, according to Fingall, “really close.” And on Friday night she affirmed a life-long dream: She committed to become a Stanford Cardinal.
“It’s one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made,” said Fingall, the second Choctaw player to commit to a major D I program after Brittany Brown went to FSU in 2013. “The staff, the schools recruiting me were all really awesome.
“Stanford was just the right choice.”
The right choice, yes. And also a premier one carrying cachet.
A perennial powerhouse, the Cardinals have made five final fours in the last eight years. They were national runners-up in 2008 and 2010, and they haven’t won less than 20 games since 2001.
Fingall, a certifiable blue-chipper ranked seventh at her position in the country, should fit in well.
She averaged 22 points, 8.1 rebounds and three blocks as a junior last year, and she’s led the Indians to a 54-6 record since transferring from Navarre her sophomore year.
Now Fingall, a premier shot-blocker and rebounder whose offensive game extends beyond the post, hopes to carve out a legacy among impactful power forwards in Palo Alto.
“They’ve had a history of great stretch forwards,” Fingall said. “With Candice Wiggins, (Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike) and the girl there right now, Erica McCall, I just want to follow in that line of great power forwards. To be that next great forward.”
Academics were also important to the straight-A Fingall, who was pleasantly surprised to see a collaborative campus instead of an academic environment promoting competition and stress.
“We had some misconceptions just going into the visit,” Fingall said. “When you think of Stanford, you think of a highly academic school with a competitive campus that’s really shut off. It wasn’t like that at all. It was really collaborative and open, so that was a big thing. The personalities of the coaches, players and students were just so warm.”
Her future secured and family happy, Fingall can now shift her focus to the next biggest phase in her basketball career: leading Choctaw back to the final four.
“The main goal is really just to try and get back to state,” said Fingall, whose Indians lost to Paxon 59-43 in the Elite Eight last year to end a stretch of three straight Final Fours. “We want to get back to the powers of a few years back.”