Bobcat turns down Netherlands junior national team for U.S. select ball

Posted Monday, Jun. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Emmanuel Nzekwesi had every reason to return to his home in The Netherlands this summer and continue to refine his game.

The Dutch junior national team invited the Byron Nelson junior-to-be to play on it. Flattered as he was to go back to The Netherlands, Nzekwesi realized that his goal was to play at the Division I college level in the United States. The best way to do that was to stick around, play in the select league circuit and let recruiters get more of a glimpse than what they already saw during the 2012-2013 season.

Now standing 6-7 and adding a little more to his frame (210 pounds), Nzekwesi is playing for the select Triumph team coached by former Highland Park and Flower Mound Marcus coach Jody Bass. The team played in a tournament in College Station this past weekend.

Averaging 13 points and eight rebounds during the Bobcats run to the Class 4A Region I championship game, many novices would consider that a great ceiling. Given that Nzekwesi is just adapting to the American game, he probably hasn’t come close to what he can do.

“When the season ended, I just started practicing even more,” he said. “The USA game is better and you need the repetitions. I just have to keep working on my offensive and defensive skills, running the pick and rolls and pick and pops. I have to keep getting more explosive to the basket and go up and dunk.”

Nelson coach Scott Curran wanted to put this budding 2015 recruit in a position this summer where all aspects of his game would be addressed. Curran thought Bass would be the best fit, because Bass isn’t one to gloss over defense and just let players roam free on the court. There’s a system in place.

Curran also didn’t have to visit with Bass on what he wanted Bass to work on with Nzekwesi. The two coaches have a history together in the high school game, so it was pretty much understood.

“I don’t have to tell Jody anything,” Curran said. “They are different than a lot of AAU teams. They teach and preach defense. There’s a team concept about sharing the basketball. They just teach the game the way it should be played. And I think that’s going to help Emmanuel a lot in the long run.”

What Curran doesn’t have to do is plead with Nzekwesi to spend some of his off hours in the gym working on his game. The work ethic has already been instilled and Curran thinks he’s going to really surprise people with his game in 2013-2014.

Staying stateside seems to be having the desired impact. Nzekwesi has already heard from such Division I programs as TCU, Lehigh, Rice, Illinois-Chicago, Texas A&M, Virginia Commonwealth, Bucknell, Boise State and Texas State. Don’t be surprised if he secures some offers before classes start in August.

Plus, Nzekwesi understands that to get better, he has to handle the battles against those posts who are tougher. That’s probably the best teaching tool of the summer.

“I know I’m giving up some size, but I just have to take it to them and hold my own,” he said. “We’re losing Keyunta Watkins [to graduation] so I have to do everything possible about taking responsibility. I have to do my job.”

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