Getting another addition to the incoming Seton Hall freshman class certainly adds to the hype, but it comes with a bittersweet edge. With junior forward Patrik Auda departing for Europe to seek professional opportunities after graduating early, SHU head coach Kevin Willard may very well be losing a guy who displays toughness.
The 6-foot-9 forward missed seven games due to a foot injury, but put up nearly 10 points and five boards per game. The foot has been a hindrance for Auda’s career, as the 24-year old looks to make the most of the time that he has. The Czech senior national team selected Auda, with qualifying for the FIBA Eurobasket taking place in August.
Auda will mostly be missed for his leadership skills. He was one of the 73 NCAA Division I men’s basketball nominees for the 2014 Allstate NABC Good Works Teams. He has garnered the accolade in each of the past three years, but that isn’t all that Auda has done. The big man has been inducted into the National College Athlete Honor Society, Chi Alpha Sigma, and has been a staple to the list of Big East Academic All Stars. Auda recently volunteered his time at the St. John’s Soup Kitchen in Newark and is always the one to step up when a service opportunity arises.
The Pirates did get younger with the addition of forward Michael Nzei. The 6-foot-8 big man is originally out of Nigeria before he attended Our Savior New American. He is familiar with the blue and white recruiting class after playing alongside Angel Delgado up against Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, and Ismael Sanogo in the Jordan Brand Classic in April. Nzei’s commitment comes with the 2014 signing period closing this week.
The forward was part of an Our Savior New American team that was in the top ten in the country according to USA Today. He appeared in the Adidas Nations Tournament during last summer and led Team Africa to a third-place overall finish, which was the best out of the five international squads. He is described by Willard as “versatile,” and he’ll have to be ready to be used in a variety of ways with Auda likely out and Brandon Mobley the only solidified returner in the frontcourt. Other college basketball recruiting analysts call Nzei “solid” as well. He is added into a class that is a consensus top 15 group around the nation and is ranked as high as sixth by Hoop Scoop. Just as they did in the Jordan Brand Classic, it’s apparent that Nzei and Delgado will have to be fast learners, which furthers the message of patience that must be taken into account when looking at the upcoming season for Seton Hall.
Of course the program has the most hype entering a season in over a decade, but the loss of a veteran like Auda must be accounted for. The question of how guards Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina will embrace the future as seasoned players in the program still hangs in the air. While the talent is there, veterans still must be in tact. The talent keeps growing for the Pirates, but Auda will be missed if he takes on the opportunities he should rightfully seek around the Euro League.
By John Fanta, Big East Reporter