Geneva standout Nate Navigato will play college hoops at Buffalo

SHARE Geneva standout Nate Navigato will play college hoops at Buffalo

Geneva senior Nate Navigato is too young to have seen the on-court exploits of University of Buffalo basketball coach Bobby Hurley, but it wasn’t hard to find out about him.

“I know who he is. I did some research, two national championships, two state championships,” the 6-7 senior said Wednesday, a day after giving the former Duke University standout his verbal commitment to a scholarship offer.

Navigato, a Beacon-News All-Area selection who helped lead coach Phil Ralston’s Vikings to the school’s first regional title in 28 years last season, was pretty much sold after taking an official visit to the Buffalo campus in western New York over Labor Day weekend and meeting the team’s players.

Hurley and Buffalo were one of 10 Division I programs that pursued the talented wing with scholarship offers.

Hurley, the former gritty point guard who helped lead coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils to three Final Four appearances in four years, demonstrated how serious he was about Navigato by attending open gyms at Geneva each of the past two weeks.

“I just loved everything about it. The team and the unselfish way they play, the campus and the gym,” Navigato said. “I know already everyone will have my back.”

Toledo and Lehigh were his other two finalists, though Navigato’s offers included Illinois-Chicago, Northern Illinois and SIU-Edwardsville.

Hurley, who assisted his younger brother Dan at both Wagner and Rhode Island after a hiatus from basketball following a NBA career shortened by injuries sustained in a serious car accident, coached Buffalo to the Mid-American Conference East title and a 19-10 record.

With most of the league’s schools in the Midwest, it will make for shorter road trips for his parents to see many of his games.

“He told me straight up there would be a good chance I could earn minutes as a freshman since three of their four forwards will be graduating after this season,” said Navigato, who averaged a team-high 19.2 points and 6.2 rebounds last season.

Ralston was pleased with Navigato’s choice but said he will savor this final season coaching him.

“I’m really ecstatic for him,” Ralston said. “He really needed to make his decision before the season, now he can enjoy his senior year without all that pressure on him.

“Unfortunately for us, it’s our last hurrah with him, but he’s everything you want in a player.

“He can shoot. He can rebound. He can handle the ball and play defense. But above all, he’s a better person off the court than on the court.

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