McLean returns to program as a leader


Dave Deluca

Junior guard Nico McLean returned to the Bengals after a two-year hiatus and leads the team in points in his return this season with 140.

Andrew David Kuczkowski, Staff Writer

The last time the Buffalo State men’s basketball team won the SUNYAC title was in the 2011-2012 season. There is one similarity between that team and this year’s team — Nico McLean.

His sophomore year in 2012-2013, McLean averaged 11.5 points-per-game, fourth on the team. He was an integral part of the team, but the birth of his children put his academics and basketball career on hold. Being a good father became his top priority.

“I left [Buffalo State] because I had two sons,” McLean said. “I took the time out to figure out who I am and be the best father for them.”

McLean felt obligated to work full time in order to support his family, and had no qualms about it.

“I guess it’s all on how you put your mind to it,” McLean said. “I think a lot of people make excuses for themselves. You just got to do what you got to do, to be honest.”

Having children changed McLean’s life; his children became his motivation. McLean’s goal as a father is to always be there, to be supportive, because he didn’t have that when he was young.

“I want to show them the way I wasn’t able to be shown,” McLean said, “because I grew up without a father, so I understand the feeling of not having a father or having someone involved to show you the right way. They motivate me to be a good father, a good player, and a good person in general.”

It’s often said that the longer someone is away from college, the less likely it is that they return. After all, a 10-page term paper is typically more strenuous than a 5-hour shift at Subway.

“I wouldn’t say it’s difficult to come back [to school],” McLean said, “because I came back knowing what I wanted to do.”

McLean is currently a junior with a major in computer information systems.

“I always wanted to design cartoons,” McLean said. “My kids watch a lot of cartoons.”

He hopes that his children help him understand what kids take away from cartoons.

After his three-year hiatus from the Buffalo State basketball team, head coach Fajri Ansari treated McLean as if he had never left.

“We have been in touch with Nico over the years,” Ansari said. “I think he’s been wanting to come back the last couple years, but he just had to come when he was ready to do so.”

This season, McLean is leading the team in points, minutes played and in free-throw percentage. His growth and maturation off the court has helped him become a better player on it.

“He’s gotten stronger and more mature and that just happens through life experiences,” Ansari said. “Which helped him approach the game a little bit differently and [he is] taking more leadership.”

McLean returned to Buffalo State with one thing in mind, achieving something that he and his 2010-2011 team came just short of: becoming Division III “national champs.”

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