OPINION: Mark Nwakamma

Three years ago, in Leander, Texas a young Mark Nwakamma was throwing it down on the basketball court when a scout stood apart from the rest.
That scout, was from the University of Hartford and that same scout was able to convince a young Mark to choose the University of Hartford over any other school. Mark Nwakamma has now emerged as the face of the men’s basketball program, bringing hope that this team, along with Nate Sikma the son of former NBA star Jack Sikma, will win the school’s first Men’s Basketball America East Championship. Mark’s development into this role has come a long way since his freshman year when the Hartford Hawks hosted the America East Championship and suffered a Double Overtime loss to rival Vermont.
However, I am getting ahead of myself here. Let’s rewind to 1989, when the University of Hartford found them a similar Power Forward and snagged him away from other schools. The player was none other than Vin Baker, the only University of Hartford alumni to get drafted into the NBA. Drafted 8th overall in the 1st round of the 1993 NBA Draft to the Milwaukee Bucks, Baker had constant toe-to-toe games against His Airness himself, Michael Jordan. Most notably remembered for his astounding play with the Milwaukee Bucks and the then Seattle Supersonics, Baker was on the verge of cementing his name as a great player who never won an NBA Championship, only making the playoffs with Seattle and New York. Baker had a stellar collegiate career in his 4 years at Hartford, proving to NBA scouts that he can be a bonafide star in the Association.
Here’s the tricky part. Vin Baker was a monster in his last three years at Uhart; his career best was his senior year when he basically averaged a double-double with 28.3 PPG and 10.7 RPG. Yes he was the face of the team at that time as well as Mark Nwakamma is the face of his team today. But, Mark’s numbers are nowhere near close to Vin Baker’s, even as a junior. Vin Baker was the 8th overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, Mark Nwakamma it’s time to step your game up. Yes, Mark Nwakamma is a versatile player, yes he is athletic, and yes he can play the 3, 4, and the 5 if needed to. But, Mark Nwakamma has never once average more than 20 points per game in his 3 years thus far. Lucky for him he isn’t eligible for the draft until his senior year in 2015. So unless he can prove to NBA scouts that he can be a consistent scorer, defender, and passer like Vin Baker was in his tenure as a Hawk, maybe Mark can get drafted into the 1st round and not be a forgotten name in the 2nd round like so many players in the NBA are today.

-Jorge Pajares

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