Despite injury, Northeastern grad Kobi Nwandu finds good fit, success with move to LeMoyne

  • Northeastern grad Kobi Nwandu recently transferred to LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York.
  • Nwandu is the leading scorer for the Dolphins this season at 16.5 points per game.
  • Nwandu, however, recently broke a thumb and will likely miss about a month.

It wasn’t so much about any dislike of East Stroudsburg University.

It was more about what he did like at Le Moyne College.

Kobi Nwandu is the leading scorer for the LeMoyne College men's basketball team at more than 16 points per game. His junior season, however, has been temporarily sidelined with a broken thumb.

That made the decision to transfer an easy one for former Northeastern High School standout Kobi Nwandu.

So far, the transition has been almost everything that Nwandu could have hoped for.

Starting in all 11 of the Dolphins games so far this season, the junior standout leads the NCAA Division II team in scoring (16.5 points per game), steals and blocks.

All in all, things have been good for Nwandu, who has helped Le Moyne enter the Christmas break with a tidy 7-4 overall record, including a 4-2 mark in the Northeast 10 Conference.

Thumb injury: Well, maybe not all good.

“I’ve started all the games, but I actually just broke my (thumb) when we went out to Las Vegas (for a tournament),” he said Wednesday. “I broke it in the first half of the first game and I finished the game and then the next game, but I just found out that it was broken.”

The team expects Nwandu to be unavailable for about the next four weeks.

“I’ll see a hand specialist when I get back to school,” said Nwandu, who was home for the holidays. “It kind of (stinks), but it was my thumb on my non-shooting hand so at least I can still do some ball-handling drills and stuff like that.”

Seeking change in style: The transition from ESU to Le Moyne, located in Syracuse, New York, was a little more unusual than most typical college transfers. It wasn’t really a result of playing time or wins and losses that led him to seek a change of scenery.

Kobi Nwandu

“I had a good sophomore year at ESU,” Nwandu said. “We went to the (NCAA Division II) Elite Eight, which is further than ESU basketball has ever gone before. So last year was a good year.”

Instead, it was about the style of play. At ESU, the game was an up-tempo, full-court press for 40 minutes a contest.

“I just didn’t feel like that type of system suited my game,” said Nwandu, who finished second on the team in scoring at 11.9 points per game as a sophomore at ESU. “It had really nothing to do with the coaching staff. I still love Coach (Jeff) Wilson and I appreciate him for giving me the opportunity to play college basketball.”

A better fit: Le Moyne’s style of play obviously is a better fit for the 6-foot, 6-inch Nwandu. He enjoys his new coach, Patrick Beilein, who is the son of Michigan coach John Beilein.

“One of the things that attracted me to Le Moyne was that they have the offense and the coaching that may be a little better (fit), since it’s tailored toward my style, so to say.”

Facing former teammate: One of the biggest highlights so far this year for Nwandu was a contest against Pitt-Johnstown at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania tournament. The Dolphins prevailed in triple overtime, 102-99, with Nwandu scoring a team-high 26 points.

The highlight, however, had little to do with the game itself. Instead, it was memorable for Nwandu because it gave him a chance to play against another former Bobcat standout in Pitt-Johnstown freshman Fred Mulbah, who started and scored 15 points.

“It was really fun to play against Fred,” Nwandu said. “He was on my last two teams at Northeastern.”

Mulbah, Rizzuto faring well: Mulbah is enjoying a fine season, too. He's averaging 9.9 points and a team-leading 5.2 assists per game at Pitt-Johnstown, an NCAAA D-II program which sits at 8-3.

Another former Northeastern standout, Antonio Rizzuto, is averaging 10.0 points per game for the University at Albany over five games played, including two starts. He started the last game for Albany and scored 14 points in a 77-67 win vs. Manhattan. Albany, an NCAA D-I school, is 4-9 overall. 

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