Splash Mountain was fun.

But the real thrill for Shawnee basketball star Dean Noll came when he checked his phone after exiting the ride Thursday afternoon at Disney World.

"Coach [Joe] Kessler texted me and said I was going to get a call that night and an offer," Noll said Friday from his senior trip at the resort in Orlando, Fla. "I was at a Pizza Shop in Disney World when I got the call. It was awesome."

Noll, who earned South Jersey's Player of the Year honors after leading Shawnee to the Group 4 state title, has committed to attend Cornell University and play basketball in the Ivy League.

Cornell coach Brian Earl, a 1995 Shawnee graduate who starred at Princeton, called Noll Thursday night to offer him a spot on the roster.

"It's definitely a relief," Noll said. "I was definitely stressing about it. But now to know where I'm going, to be playing in the Ivy League, it's a dream come true."

The 6-foot-1 Noll, who averaged 21.6 points in leading Shawnee to a 29-5 record and the No. 1 spot in the Inquirer's final Top 25, had offers from NCAA Division II programs such as Caldwell and University of the Sciences.

But he was holding out hope for an offer from a Division I program.

Dean Noll led Shawnee to the Group 4 state title.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Dean Noll led Shawnee to the Group 4 state title.

"I am so happy and proud of Dean," Kessler said. "He has worked so hard and this could not have happened to a better person."

Cornell was 12-16 last season and finished fourth in the Ivy League. The Big Red lost to top-seeded Harvard in the semifinals of the Ivy League tournament at the Palestra.

Noll has not visited Cornell. He plans to travel to the school in Ithaca, N.Y., this spring. Hesaid the offer was especially rewarding since he had worked so hard in the offseason to command an offer from a Division I program.

"It definitely feels like all my hard work has paid off," Noll said. "This was my goal all along. For it to happen, it's just awesome."