Bonnies Looked Up for Big Man Help
You have to wonder how a player of Andrew Nicholson’s talent stumbled onto St. Bonaventure’s campus.
Star player, putrid program … just doesn’t mix.
No matter, the Bonnies should be thanking their lucky stars. Nicholson is almost already a household name in the Atlantic 10 and the athletic center hasn’t even played in a conference game. He’s just the type of player the Bonnies have been missing as the program has stumbled to the bottom of the league.
Nicholson was lightly recruited coming out of Father Michael Goetz in Missasauga, Ont. St. John’s was interested. So was Niagara and Buffalo. That’s about it.
The Canadian factor is big. Most schools ignore the country all together unless a hyped prospect hails from the country. Then there was the fact that Nicholson really had no desire to leave Canada. Schools backed off.
Enter St. Bonaventure, within a three-hour drive of Nicholson’s home and home of an enticing new science building, which appealed greatly to the man nicknamed the professor because of his intelligence and passion for learning.
When Nicholson signed with the Bonnies last fall, coach Mark Schmidt compared the player to Caswell Cyrus, the 1,000-point-scoring, shot-swatting former Bonnie who also hailed from the Toronto area.
Still, no one could’ve figured Nicholson would be this good this fast. In all truth, you’d be a fool not to think Nicholson can accomplish more than Cyrus did in four seasons at Bona.
Nicholson is blocking shots at a pace Cyrus would take supreme pride in. His rebound numbers are solid, and at this point Nicholson’s offensive game is far advanced than what Cyrus’ was when he was a freshman.
Stat comparisons aren’t fair, though. Cyrus joined an established program, one that earned an NIT berth his freshman year. He also played alongside fellow big man Peter Van Paassen for three years and ball-dominating guard Tim Winn for four years.
You’ll expect the Bonnies to build around Nicholson, The Bonnies with Cyrus didn’t have to centerpiece their big man.
The hope is that Nicholson has room to grow as a player, that he can become stronger and improve in all areas. Schmidt mentioned that Nicholson could be better than David West, the former National Player of the Year whom Schmidt recruited as an assistant at Xavier. After watching Nicholson through seven games, that thinking all the sudden doesn’t appear all too far fetched.
If he’s this good now, how good can he be in four years?
Funny that was the same exact thing we were asking about Fordham’s Bryant Dunston four years ago, when he was punishing the A-10 with double-doubles as a freshman. Dunston didn’t improve much over his career and neither did the Rams.
What about Nicholson? Will his progress plateau fast?
Not according to Schmidt, who said this after Nicholson tied Cyrus’ school record with eight blocks and added 16 points and nine rebounds in a victory over Princeton:
“I know he won’t get comfortable and he’ll continue to work. He has a chance to be a special player.”
Maybe Nicholson is what Bona fans deserved all along. Maybe he is the reward for having to watch painfully as Yankuba Camara, Saulius Dumbliaukus, Dave Fox, Ivan Kovacevic and Lounceny Kaba manned the post over the last five years.
After all, Nicholson stumbled onto St. Bonaventure for some reason.