All throughout his high school career, Mark Armstrong had heard St. Peter’s Prep (N.J.) coach Alex Mirabel preach about “Attitude.”
Maybe it was a sign, maybe it was fate, but Armstrong will feel right at home when he starts his collegiate journey, playing for the man who popularized the philosophy: Jay Wright.
“Jay Wright always says, ‘Attitude, attitude,’ and that stuck out to me because my high school coach always took that philosophy, but he never used to tell us who it was from,” said Armstrong, Villanova’s latest commit. “It’s funny that it translates to Coach Wright, he told us that later, but it’s attitude, playing together, and playing hard.”
Drawn by the culture of the program, Armstrong announced his commitment to Villanova on Thursday night. He chose the Wildcats over Auburn, UConn, Louisville, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Stanford, and Kansas.
“I felt the love from day one,” Armstrong said of his decision behind picking Villanova. “All the other colleges stood out, but I felt like I had a true connection with Coach Wright and Coach Nardi.”
According to the four-star guard, he was first introduced to Wright shortly after coaches were allowed to contact Class of 2022 recruits. He received an offer last November, and he felt their relationship continued to build over time.
Armstrong is the Wildcats’ first commit for the Class of 2022.
“All these other colleges have great coaches, but I just felt like I had a personal connection with Coach Wright,” Armstrong said. “Every time I would have a game, he would text me before and give me some advice and stuff like that, so I thought that was great.”
The 6-foot-3, 170-pound guard built a reputation for being a strong shooter and defender at St. Peter’s Prep, but he hopes to elevate his game to an even higher level once he arrives on campus.
In an abbreviated high school season, Armstrong guided St. Peter’s Prep to a 10-1 record. He averaged 14.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. He eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in a 21-point outing against Snyder on Jan. 30.
He got to see parts of Villanova’s campus before the COVID-19 pandemic, but only the athletic facilities. Armstrong hopes to receive a full campus tour in the near future.
He also can’t wait to compete at an even higher level than he’s accustomed to on the high school stage.
“I’m most excited just to play on a high national scale and play in the Big East,” Armstrong said. “It’s just great. I’ve always watched Villanova, and I’ve always watched the Big East, so it’s just great to be a part of that culture.”
While he waits for his turn to finally put on a Villanova jersey, he’s just soaking in the moment of making his Division I dream come true with his family.
“It’s crazy, I still can’t believe it,” Armstrong said. “Like, I’m about to really commit to a college. I’m just enjoying every bit of this moment. We’re just happy. We know we have work to do to get to the next level, so basically we want to enjoy today and tomorrow, and then basically, get ready. That’s all it is, and we’re very thankful and blessed that we’re in this situation.”
In the meantime, he has a message for what Villanova fans can expect from him once he sets foot on the Pavilion court.
“Just a kid that wants to play hard, play for his teammates, play for the coaches,” he said. “Just go out and play hard, and play to win. Off the court, I’m a fun-loving kid. That’s me.”