A Toast to Nick Van Exel
Earlier this week the University of Cincinnati inducted former basketball stand out Nick Van Exel into the UC Sports Hall of Fame. For you younger UC fans that weren’t around yet Van Exel averaged 15.2 pts and 3.6 ast during his two seasons as a Bearcat from 1991 to 1993. He left his mark at UC while leading the Bearcats to the 1992 NCAA Final Four as a junior. As a senior he averaged 18.3 pts and 4.5 ast earning third team all-America honors and was named a finalist for the John Wooden Award for the nation’s top player. Van Exel was drafted in the second round (37th overall pick) by my LA Lakers in the 1993 NBA Draft.
Former UC and Lakers alumni Corie Blount captured some of his speech from the ceremony
Glad to take part in the recognition of one of my best friends receive his induction into the UC Hall of Fame…Nick it’s well deserved and congrats buddy! pic.twitter.com/JdEFSHIIIt
— Corie Blount (@CorieBlount) September 21, 2018
Nick the Quick was a JUCO transfer out of Trinity Valley Community College in Texas a school he had to go to for poor high school grades. After 2 years in central Texas he was ready to leave. He took 32 credit hours one semester to be eligible and transfer, he would become a Bearcat.
Once he came to UC he lived in the gym over the summer until he was eligible in the fall. I’m not talking about a cliché like how much he practiced or extra hours in the gym. I’m talking about all of his belongings in a bag and literally sleeping in the gym.
He was just the type of player Coach Bob Huggins would recruit and Exel with (see what I did there?). He could ball with the best of them but needed to prove himself in the classroom and the way he carried himself. Admittedly, the later took him a while to figure out.
Van Exel played in the NBA from 93-06. He averaged 14.4 points and 6.6 assists. He did his most damage as a Laker and a Nugget. He also spent time in Dallas, Golden State, and San Antonio.
“A leader, fierce competitor, explosive athlete and the Toast of Kenosha” are just a few ways that people have described his game. He was super quick (hints the nickname), shifty, and would drive, shoot, or pass and you wouldn’t know which way to look until it was too late. He was a bully on the court and he always got his way.
How good was he? See for yourself.
Congratulations Nick! It’s well deserved and long overdue ! Cheers.