With his waiver granted, Rider's Nurideen Lindsey is ready to go
LAWRENCEVILLE — Nurideen Lindsey was sitting in his Philadelphia home earlier this month when he received a text message from Rider coach Kevin Baggett.
The message was simple.
“Are you ready,” it read, “you got granted the waiver, it’s time to go.”
That news ended a wait that began back in January when Lindsey left St. John’s and landed at Rider. The NCAA granted him a Legislative Relief Waiver — more commonly known as a hardship waiver — that allows him to take part in the Broncs’ Nov. 9 season-opener.
Baggett said the NCAA denied the school’s waiver request at first but after the issue was raised to a larger committee and more information was presented, the governing body granted the waiver.
“It’s probably one of the happiest and most relieved nights I’ve had in a long time,” Lindsey said Thursday at the team’s media day, held at Alumni Gymnasium.
For Lindsey, the road to Rider has been one steeped in personal and family tragedy. Two of his brothers were killed —— a result of gang violence on the streets of Philadelphia — his best friend died of cancer and his mother suffered two strokes. He didn’t get the chance to complete a high school career at Overbrook that likely would have seen him break Wilt Chamberlain’s scoring records — he averaged a Public League-leading 35.8 points per game as a sophomore and junior.
Instead, he landed at Redlands Community College in Oklahoma after a year away from the court. He turned success there into a scholarship at St. John’s, but things broke down after 11 games and he was again looking for a new home.
After a flirtation with Arkansas — Lindsey said he felt familiar with the surroundings since it was close to Oklahoma, where he had spent the past year and a half — he ended up choosing Rider. The school, along with its proximity to his family’s home in Philadelphia, also could offer him a scholarship in the spring.
“It feels good to settle in and call somewhere home,” said Lindsey, who has two years of eligibility remaining.
There are still days where it’s not easy to get up in the morning.
“You never really put it aside,” Lindsey said of his personal tragedy. “You use it more as motivation. Knowing that my brothers and that my best friend would want me to keep doing what I’m doing, it’s all just motivation.
“It’s tough some days because you have your family members here that you still think about and not everybody deals with it the way I necessarily deal with it. My mom, she has her days when she’s up and she has days where she’s down. Just trying to figure out ways to keep her happy and keep her spirits up is tough sometimes. School and basketball is big motivation for me to take care of what I have to take care of to provide for my family.”
As relieved as Lindsey was to have his waiver granted, Baggett was equally excited. He knows he’s getting a talented player and one who’s ready to contribute immediately.
“I would say there is a sense of maturity (with him),” the Broncs’ first-year coach said. “I think he’s made some mistakes, and there are some stereotypes out there on him, whether it’s warranted or not, there are some. My thing to him is to make good on this opportunity. Get out here, play hard, practice hard, do well in the games and we’ll figure out where we go from there. But just focus on helping our team and good things will come about from that.”
Lindsey’s ultimate goal is to play professionally — he thought he made a good start at St. John’s before personal issues derailed him — but right now he’s only focused on helping Rider better last year’s 13-19 mark.
“I’m excited to be at Rider,” Lindsey said. “I’m excited to play at Rider and I’m looking forward to having a good year. It’s one thing at a time, and hopefully one day the timing is right, but right now, I’m here to play for coach (Baggett) and enjoy this college experience.”