Willard’s first class takes shape

Only one day before the spring signing period ended, Seton Hall continued making off-season strides by signing Patrik Auda and Anali Okoloji, head coach Kevin Willard announced this past Friday.

Auda, a 6-foot-9 native of Brno, Czech Republic, spent the last year playing at the Canarias Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands.

“I’ve seen CBA in action firsthand, and without a doubt, it’s one of the top basketball academies in Europe,” Willard said according to SHUpirates.com. “Getting a student-athlete from CBA means getting a well-coached, highly disciplined player.”

The CBA has generated 18 Division I players, including Oklahoma’s most recent signing, Abdi Sabour Ahmed. Gilvydas Biruta of St. Benedict’s Prep, an off-season acquisition for Rutgers, is also a product of the CBA.

Auda is a left-handed power forward known for his three-point shooting as well as his physical inside game.

He was named to the National Prep School Invitational All-Tournament Team in February after averaging 17.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in the 31-team event in Rhode Island.

According to ESPN.com Auda’s play in the tournament was characterized by intense energy and physicality.

“He is extremely physical and even a little mean inside the paint, banging defensively, diligently going to the glass and taking smaller defenders to the low post offensively,” the report said.

Prior to signing and faxing a National Letter of Intent to join the Pirates on Tuesday, May 18, Auda rejected a lucrative offer to play professionally in Europe and was also recruited by over 50 Division I universities.

“Patrik loves the thought of playing alongside experienced Big East players who will help him adjust,” said Rob Orellana, head coach at the CBA according to Zagsblog.com.

Okoloji is regarded for his size and an unyielding work ethic. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward averaged 25 points, 11 rebounds and six assists per game during his solo season at Impact Basketball Academy in Florida.

“Anali’s prep year really helped him develop his game to a much higher level than it was in high school,” Willard said according to SHUpirates.com.

Before transferring to Impact, Okoloji played at Benjamin Banneker High School in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Both players join incoming freshman wing Fuquan Edwin out of Paterson Catholic.

Former head coach Bobby Gonzalez had recruited Edwin before he was fired in March following a short-lived NIT berth.

Edwin averaged 15.5 points and six rebounds in his last season in Paterson.

“We are very pleased to be able to sign a pair of talented front court players for next season,” Willard said according to the New York Post. “With Fuquan Edwin already signed, we believe Auda and Okoloji fortify a strong recruiting class that will make an immediate impact.”

Gabrielle Kiger can be reached at gabrielle.kiger@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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