Mr. Wall Street
Michael Nzei was only in the eleventh grade when he found out that his father passed away. It was In October of 2012. Other than Chris Obekpa Nei’s who was his best friend his father was one of the first people to get him involved in the sport of basketball. Once his father started to realize that he was getting tall and his son was not interested in their home countries sport, because all of his friends wanted him to play goalie and Nzei thought that wouldn’t be a good fit for him. Nzei said that his dad told him “that maybe we should go check out this basketball thing, and see what it is.”
Nzei said that when he still lived in Nigeria, he would drive an hour to play basketball. He started playing basketball at age fifteen, and then by age seventeen he was playing for the Junior National team for his country.
Obekpa found out that Nzei’s father had passed away and he said, “ I’m sorry about your dad, but I think its time that you start following what you want to do ” After that phone call, Nzei applied for a visa so he could come to the United States.
The same year that his dad passed away he moved to the United States to further his education and follow his dream of play basketball. Nzei said, “ That I had no idea what I would be doing or where I was going to stay I just knew I was going to play basketball”. This all happened because Chris Obekpa told Our Savior America that I know this really good basketball player back in Nigeria.
James Delaney his host father said when Nzei was at Our Savior America the coach Pastor Stelzer loved him. Delaney said, “Pastor Stelzer loved him because Mike wasn’t a selfish player and played him a lot because of his ability to defend”. Not only did his high school coach Pastor Stelzer love him, but last week during the Seton Hall’s senior night Delaney said coach Willard came up to him and told him that “ Michael is my absolute favorite senior I’ve ever coached”.
Coach Willard has a lot be proud about Nzei because Nzei has been named the Big East Scholar-Athlete of the year this is a great accomplishment for him and Seton Hall because he is the first Seton Hall player to receive this award since Adrian Griffin received it in 1996.
Delaney remembers the day that Nzei came to the U.S because it was the day after Sandy hit. Although It wasn’t easy to come to America from Nigeria, Nzei said that it was a little tough because you have to through a couple of interviews, and he also said that you need to tell them why are you coming to America. his scholarship paperwork got approved and so that he was able to come to America to play basketball. Nzei said was that one of the hardest parts of coming to America was that “ only my aunt and sister knew I was going I didn’t want to tell my mom because my dad had just passed away”.
When Nzei arrived at Seton Hall he said that everything felt perfect: not just the basketball program, but the atmosphere. He liked that the school offered small classes, because coming from a small community he felt like it was a perfect fit for him. News network FS1 did a feature story on Nzei and this is what the Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard had to say: “ For Michael, he’s always been kind of a natural leader. You know he’s a 3.5 student he’s in the business masters program”. These are traits of a natural leader, and the players with these traits are the players that just don’t rely on basketball as a career, but are looking to see what comes after basketball.
Asiah Avent who plays Guard for Seton Hall said that his teammate Michael Nzei “ Is a hard working smart down to earth and basically one of the main people were there’s a problem going on with the team or coach wants the team to get together we all look for Mike and we all listen to Mike because he’s the one who’s more experienced on the basketball court”. This is the type of person you want on your team because not only does he lead by example on the court but off the court as well.
That doesn’t mean Nzei isn’t excelling athletically. Sports site The app.com did an article on Nzei and they said that “he’s on pace to at least tie the program record for career games played, and could become the fourth player in Pirate history to appear in four NCAA Tournaments (Arturas Karnishovas, Bryan Caver and John Leahy are the others, from 1991-94)”. This accomplishment is giant, not only for the Seton Hall Pirates but for Nzei himself.
One of the Seton Hall guards Myles Powell said this during the feature FS1 story about Nzei “that a basketball could stop bouncing for Mike and he still would be a successful person”. This is the type of response that you want to hear from a teammate because you want an athlete to be successful not only on the field but off and Michael Nzei is a great example of that. Powell said this in an article about Nzei in the New York Post last week “ You see how hard he works, and think about it, he’s a hell of a person”.
During his time at Seton Hall, Nzei also participated in school activities. He’s a four-time member of the “BIG EAST All-Academic team and was inducted into the Chi Alpha Sigma National Student-Athlete Honor Society as a junior,” according to his school. In May 2018, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics before moving to the Master’s program.
One of Nzei’s friends from Seton Hall Nick Romano said what people find special about Nzei “Is that he is able to succeed in the other person but he’s also able to succeed with a schedule as high pressure as what he has” Nzei is at high pressure because not only is he playing at a division one school against players that one day will end up in the NBA but pressured to succeed in the classroom because if Nzei is not on the basketball court he’s in the library studying and Romano said that’s how Nzei keeps his GPA so high and how he’s able to be successful off the court.
He also said, “that Nzei knows that success isn’t just basketball it what comes after basketball and I think that’s why everyone loves him and look up to him”
Michael Nzei is a perfect example of how a student-athlete should act because not only does he succeed on the playing field but he knows that basketball won’t be with him forever and that is why as a student he succeeds off the field in the classroom as well.
The New York Post Interview head coach Kevin Willard about Nzei and he said that “ I think what Mike brings more than anything is a level of maturity and he understands what he wants out of life, but he also understands his responsibility to teach the young guys”.
Nzei received a full-time internship from one of the top financial companies in the city, Cantor Fitzgerald. According to the app.com, “If there’s one thing he learned at Cantor: Coursework matters.”That is certainly the truth, because you need the work ethic and drive that Nzei has to succeed.
He has overcome a lot to become a very successful person, and Nzei says that “I’m not writing off basketball I’m not writing off a career in finance I go for the best opportunity”.