A Big Decision for a “Big Man:” Meet Patrik Auda

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Before the season even begins, Patrik Auda must decide whether or not he wants to stay in South Orange or play professionally and it could impact the entire Pirates season.

Seton Hall lost much of their veteran leadership from last year’s team including Eugene Teague, and Aaron Geramipoor in addition to guard Fuquan Edwin at the conclusion of last season. The leaders have been replaced by younger and more talented freshmen that expect to turn around the program. This highly-touted recruiting class will need experienced players from last year to lead them along the way and Patrik Auda is one of those players that the Pirates would be more than happy to have around.

Auda is not coming off of a breakout season as far as the numbers were concerned. He only averaged 9.6 points in 27 contests last season for the Pirates, but it was his presence on the court that really helped to propel The Hall to a semifinal appearance in the Big East Tournament. Auda is always a threat to catch the ball at the top of the three point line, drive to the basket and either score or draw a foul. Coupled with an improving jump shot and a solid 70 percent average from the free throw line, defenders have to constantly be on their heels.

For Seton Hall this season, the new recruiting class fits nicely around Auda and that could lead to a breakout season for the versatile power forward. However, the big man has received offers to play overseas in Europe after he will play for his native Czech Republic in qualifiers for the 2015 FIBA EuroBasketball Tournament.

The most important factor in this choice will be injuries. In four seasons with the Pirates, Auda has had many ups and downs with more of those "downs" being related to various foot injuries. During his redshirt sophomore season, Auda missed all but five games. This could be a factor in his final decision since the only reason for Auda to stay besides an improved roster is to boost his NBA Draft status. His ceiling is probably not high enough to be selected next year, but there is always a chance. Auda would risk losing out on a boatload of money if he plays in the Big East Conference and either gets hurt or does not perform well.

These factors have a chance to hurt him in the long run if he stays in college.

This has been one of the most hotly contested topics in college sports for as long as we can remember, especially in the past decade: whether or not students should leave college early to either play overseas or in the NBA. The difference with Auda is that he just graduated from Seton Hall University with honors this year. He has a career to fall back on if basketball does not work out, which is not the case for many players either coming out of high school or college early to play professionally.

For Auda personally, it must be difficult to pass up an opportunity to play in Europe and get paid to play the game he loves. However, the potential of this year’s Seton Hall team is a reason to reconsider. This team has a chance, in a weak Big East Conference, to make a run in the conference tournament with a possible appearance in the NCAA Tournament closer than it has been for The Hall since 2006. All of this exposure could lead to a higher draft stock and maybe a chance to play in the NBA.

If Auda does leave, the blue and white have Angel Delgado, who was a Top 50 overall prospect out of high school this year according to ESPN and is a rebounding machine at the power forward position. Other than that, it gets a little slim in the frontcourt as the Pirates will have to rely on forward Brandon Mobley at the four or the five positions without Auda. Mobley’s workload might be overextended, which will lead to problems on both ends for the Pirates' big men. The strengths of the team will change drastically between seasons from depending on interior scoring to relying on great guard play. This is a big adjustment to make and Auda would help immensely to facilitate that transition.

The Pirates should be trying everything they can to bring Auda back. Without him, this much anticipated season may not reach the heights that were once thought by fans and coaches.

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