Weber State finalized its men’s basketball roster for the 2020-21 season with its ninth commitment of the 2020 class and the signing of its sixth Division I transfer.
Denver big man David Nzekwesi signed with Weber State and coach Randy Rahe on Thursday, and announced his commitment to the Wildcats on Friday. He’ll be a junior with two seasons to play.
Nzekwesi averaged 6.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in 52 appearances over two seasons at Denver, shooting 50.2% overall, 39.1% from 3 and 74.4% from the free-throw line.
The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Nzekwesi carries career highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds and says he was contacted by dozens of schools after entering the transfer portal on May 26. Morehead State and Towson were among top contenders.
But “I was definitely happy when Weber State contacted me,” Nzekwesi said.
If the name is familiar to Weber State fans, it’s because David is the younger brother of Emmanuel, who signed with Weber State in 2014 before an unresolved visitor visa issue kept him from becoming eligible. After using the 2015-16 season to play in prep school and resolve the issue, Emmanuel signed with Oral Roberts where he played for four seasons.
Both brothers are from The Netherlands and played high school basketball at Byron Nelson High School in Texas.
“(Emmanuel) spoke very highly about Weber State and Coach Rahe, and was bummed about not being able to go to Weber State. For me, just the family type of feeling with Coach Rahe ... he recruited me in high school a little bit. We’ve just always had a good connection,” Nzekwesi said. “The fact that he’ll have a spot for me to play right away drew me to it. And the fact that previous players do well in the pros, it just shows how good of a coach he is and the coaching staff he has.”
Nzekwesi says he can play at the 4 or 5 position, and that his main goal is to cut weight and become a more lean big man to increase his versatility. With an ability to hit the 3 or put his back to the basket, he’s been training hard with his brother to reach that fitness result to unlock his full potential.
“Being able to shoot the ball and also be a force inside the paint, I feel like that will be hard for people to guard me,” he said.
He said he felt led to Weber State after wanting to leave Denver following his freshman season but praying about the thought and deciding on the resolve to stay with the Pioneers for his sophomore season. That also allowed him to play against Emmanuel twice, who was hurt both times Denver and Oral Roberts faced off in conference play during David’s freshman year.
“David is a talented post player, he has great hands and feet, has a good skill level and knows how to score the ball in the low post,” Rahe said in a news release. “He is also capable of stretching the floor to the 3-point line and becoming a very strong rebounder for us.”
Nzekwesi will need a transfer waiver to become immediately eligible. After conversations with his coaches at Denver, he’s confident he’ll be approved for a waiver and suit up as a Wildcat for the 2020-21 season.
“I’m really happy. It was a quick transition but I’m excited to get to work with the team and build that chemistry with all the new guys coming in ... and build those relationships,” he said.
Nzekwesi’s addition brings the roster for the 2020-21 season to the 13 scholarship limit. Those players are allocated by class in the following way:
FRESHMEN: Dillon Jones
Nzekwesi is one of four players who need waivers to become eligible, joining Hunter, Percy and Sisoho Jawara. Rahe has been positive about the prospects of obtaining waivers for all four, given the circumstances surrounding their transfers.
Brown and Cunningham slot in at point guard. Percy and Sisoho Jawara can play on- or off-ball on the guard line. At 6-foot-3 with a career 3-point mark of 42.6%, Mócsán is a pure shooting guard. In addition to the aforementioned versatility from Percy, guards Davis, Hunter and Porter slot in at wing positions.
Kozak and Kupsas are natural forwards, while Bassett and Nzekwesi are the likely players at the 5.
Characterizing himself as a forward, Jones is a wild card, having played 1 through 4 in high school.
Last season, the average number of upperclassmen (seniors and juniors) on Big Sky Conference men’s basketball rosters was 7.2, and six teams had eight or more such players. Weber State had four scholarship upperclassmen last season and will have eight such players in 2020-21.