Alex McGuire left her house at 7:25 a.m. on June 21, so she missed the first telephone call. But not by much.
On the first day NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches were permitted to telephone a senior prospect, they didn't wait long to try to reach Arundel High's standout 5-foot-9 guard. The phone first rang at 7:30 a.m. Then again later that morning. Then again. Then again. And again.
By 4:15 p.m., when McGuire came home from working at the Arundel High basketball camp, more than 20 coaches had called to speak with her. And exactly 45 minutes later, they started calling again: McGuire's mother, Mellanie, had told the coaches Alex would be home at 5 p.m. to give her daughter 45 minutes of quiet after a long day.
That night McGuire talked to six coaches, and during most of those calls, she could hear her telephone's call-waiting click in the background, sometimes several times. By early last week, she had talked to coaches from 33 schools.
"She's gotten the most attention out of anyone I've ever coached," Arundel Coach Lee Rogers said.
"It's flattering," McGuire said last week before a summer league basketball game. "All these coaches want you to come to their school and have your education paid for."
Most of the calls, McGuire said, are similar and take about 15 minutes, though some were longer than others. American University's pitch lasted 40 minutes, the longest of any so far.
"They ask what your interests are, what you'll major in," McGuire said. "They ask things to try to get to know you, and then they sell you on their school."
Since the beginning of her high school career, some 85 schools have sent letters trying to woo McGuire. It is not difficult to see why.
While she is a polished basketball player, what is first apparent when watching McGuire on the court is her overall athletic ability.
From the time she first could walk and would play "follow the leader," dribbling a ball behind her father, Steve, Alex McGuire has been a natural. She played club softball, she was the Ravens' Punt, Pass and Kick champion five years in a row, and she played on the Soccer Association of Columbia's United Premier team that competed in the elite Washington Area Girls Soccer league. She even picked up volleyball in high school and helped lead the Wildcats to a county title.
But her passion is basketball.
"I don't know what I'd do if I wasn't playing basketball," McGuire said. "I love playing. I can't imagine what it will be like when it's over. It will be really sad."
Her love for the game was evident last winter. The day after winning the state championship, McGuire and her teammates who play for the Maryland Hurricanes, an AAU team, were back in the gym working out.
"So they haven't taken a break," Rogers said.
McGuire's hard work has paid off. In just three years at Arundel, she has become the school's all-time leading scorer. She is a clutch shooter and a relentless defender, and she has shown the ability to play point guard, shooting guard and both forward positions. Last season she led the Wildcats to a 26-2 record, the Anne Arundel County championship and the Maryland 4A title. She was an All-Met selection and the county player of the year for the second consecutive year.
But despite her successes and the accolades showered upon her, McGuire carries herself without a trace of arrogance. And her friendly, calm demeanor could prove valuable in helping her sort through the sales pitches offered to her by college coaches.
It can be a stressful time of year for high school athletes who are entering their senior years and hoping to continue their athletic careers in college. Bill Marano knows the process well. His daughter, Jill, will be a senior at LaSalle this fall. She, too, was a standout basketball player at Arundel and spent the summer before her senior year searching for the right college.
"For Jill, I think it was very stressful because she's one of those people who likes to get things over with as soon as possible," said Bill Marano, who helps coach Arundel's summer league team. "And it's not a fast process."
Bill Marano said he has talked to McGuire and her senior teammate Ana Baker about the process and tried to pass on some advice.
"I tell all the kids, the first thing they'll do is send letters, and you have to respond whether you think you'll go or not," he said. "It gets them into their computer systems, but also, these coaches all know each other and talk to each other, and if you've got a kid that does not return letters, they might think maybe they're not that interested in playing basketball or whatever sport in college."
Most important, however, Bill Marano said, is that a player know exactly what he or she wants from a college.
"You have to have a list in front of you of what you want," Bill Marano said. "Do you want certain academic standards? Do they have your major? Is it the type of coach you want? The type of offense you're comfortable with? . . . I say, 'Remember, they want you, so don't be afraid to ask as much as you can so you can make a good decision.' "
McGuire has a set of requirements she will use to help narrow down her choices. First, the school she chooses must be strong academically -- McGuire is a standout student with a 4.0 grade-point average and a 1140 SAT score. Second, she wants to go to a school where she can at least compete for a starting spot immediately. Third, she does not want to go too far from home. And fourth, she wants to find the right campus atmosphere, though she has not yet figured out what that will be for her.
Because she is still not sure what kind of environment suits her, McGuire's visits will be critical to her decision-making process. Under NCAA rules, she is allowed to make as many as five official visits after the opening day of classes her senior year, and she has said she will make all five.
She also will go on numerous unofficial visits. McGuire has visited Penn State, West Point, Loyola, the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne, Virginia and Seton Hall.
"My key thing with them is that they go where they'll be happy because they'll be there for four years," Rogers said. "If they're not happy they wind up at home or transferring."
McGuire said she wants to narrow her choices to a few schools before the start of the school year and make a choice before basketball season begins.
Until then, she can expect to hear her phone ringing off the hook.