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Determining Michael Nzei’s role for Seton Hall

The power forward looks to solidify his presence in the paint.

Xavier v Seton Hall Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images

If you’re not familiar with Seton Hall’s Michael Nzei, chances are you will be. The 6’8 forward is in the process of developing into an impactful player in the paint for the Pirates.

Redshirting the 2014-15 season, Nzei officially launched his Seton Hall career in 2015-16. While only starting in 3 games, Nzei nabbed court time in 34 games for the Pirates. Most notably, he solidified his career high against Rutgers, putting up a solid double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds. Nzei seems to have a penchant for keeping his stats close numerically. Nzei offered 4 points and 5 rebounds during the Big East tournament semifinal against Xavier, and racked up 5 points and 5 rebounds in the first round of March Madness against Gonzaga.

If these points feel like peanuts, here’s something to put Nzei’s impact in perspective: typically playing 13.5 minutes per game, he averaged over 63% for field goal shooting in the 2015-16 season.

Before making his way to South Orange, Nzei balled on an international level. His senior year, Nzei averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds. ESPN ranked Nzei as the #9 recruit from New York state for the 2014 class, cementing his status as a skilled forward. Those skills weren’t flaunted just domestically. Originally from Makurdi, Nigeria, Nzei was also a member of Nigeria’s national basketball team and additionally played on Africa’s behalf during the Adidas Nations Tournament in 2013. At the international tournament, Nzei posted double digits reflecting his soon-to-be high school senior year overall stats—averaging a respectable 12.6 points and 10.6 rebounds.

If Nzei’s pre-Seton Hall days are any indication, it’s clear the player has strong talent. Simply put, we’ve yet to experience the full taste of his abilities while playing for the Pirates.

He has the perimeter to enforce a robust offensive defense, and sharpening his physicality will be key to his on court success. Nzei’s freshman debut previewed bouts of rebounding excellence; no doubt, coach Kevin Willard will be aiming to hone Nzei’s skills to assure more consistent displays of his power.

This upcoming season will be an opportunity for Nzei to exert a greater influence for the Pirates and prove his dominance as a forward. While he may not have been a starting figure in the past, Nzei possesses the equipment to mold himself into an established stronghold for Seton Hall.