Two former Northeastern High basketball teammates earn honors on NCAA Division I level
Two former Northeastern High School teammates earned some personal honors on the NCAA Division I college basketball level last week.
Antonio Rizzuto, a junior for the University at Albany, was named the lone captain for the Great Danes.
Kobi Nwandu, a redshirt junior for the University of Niagara, reached the 1,000-point milestone for his college career.
Both players are enjoying strong seasons for their respective teams.
Captain Rizzuto: Rizzuto learned of his selection as team captain six games into Albany’s season.
"As a coach, there's no better feeling than knowing what you're going to get from a certain player every single time he steps on the floor in practice and in games," Danes head coach Will Brown told the Albany Times-Union about Rizzuto. "Antonio is a great example for others in our locker room to follow because of how hard he plays every day, how hard he competes every day, and it has nothing to do with playing well."
Rizzuto told the Times-Union that he didn’t see his captaincy altering the way he approached Albany’s season, which has already featured six games postponed or canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I told the guys when coach Brown named me captain, I don't think that changes much," Rizzuto told the Times-Union. "There's a lot of guys that have stepped up. This year's way different because of COVID and with starting the way we did, and it takes a group of guys.
Rizzuto responded to his new leadership role over the weekend with two his better performances of the season in a pair of victories over the New Jersey Institute of Technology, helping Albany improve to 3-5.
In an 83-75 win vs. NJIT on Saturday, the 6-foot, 3-inch Rizzuto had 16 points and three assists. In Sunday’s 83-71 triumph vs. NJIT, Rizzuto collected 19 points on 7 for 12 shooting from the field.
For the season, Rizzuto in second on the team in scoring at 12.9 points per game. That’s a marked increase over his freshman and sophomore seasons, when he averaged 9.2 and 7.7 points per game each season, respectively.
This year, Rizzuto is shooting 49% from the field and 42% from 3-point range. Both of those figures are well above his career averages of 38.4% from the field and 36.7% from 3-point range.
Milestone for Nwandu: Nwandu, meanwhile, scored his 1,000th career college point when the Purple Eagles dropped a 58-49 decision to Manhattan on Friday.
He reached the milestone at the free-throw line to complete a three-point play.
Nwandu, who is playing in his first season as a Purple Eagle, scored 450 points at East Stroudsburg (2016-18) and 414 points at LeMoyne (2018-19) before transferring to Niagara.
The 6-6 Nwandu ended the Manhattan game leading Niagara in scoring for the fourth time this season, finishing with 12 points. In that contest, he reached double figures in scoring for the 10th straight game.
For the season, Nwandu is second on the Niagara team in scoring at 12.3 points per game. He’s also averaging 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
Niagara stands at 5-7 overall.
Rizzuto and Nwandu met on the court earlier this season, with Niagara emerging with a 70-65 victory over Albany. Nwandu had 16 points in that contest, while Rizzuto had six points.
Reach Steve Heiser at email@example.com.