Senior Spotlight: Nick Muszynski passes his way to prestige
Men’s basketball’s last season in the Ohio Valley Conference is underway with high stakes and heavy expectations on the Bruins’ shoulders.
A pair of shoulders that stand out in most crowds belongs to center Nick “Moose” Muszynski. The senior and his 6’ 11” frame have been a valuable asset to the team since he started playing for Belmont as a redshirt freshman in 2018.
Over his four years at Belmont, the campus has become his home and the team his family. Muszynski is living the dream, he said.
The Pickerington, Ohio, native grew up trying his hand at almost every sport, but he quickly knew basketball was it for him. Growing up watching players like Greg Oden and Mike Conley from the Ohio State Buckeyes inspired a 13-year-old Muszynski to believe that could be him on the court one day.
“I always wanted to play college ball, but it wasn’t really a reality,” he said.
It was a long road to the Division I level, but Muszynski pushed himself the whole way.
Despite being a late bloomer in high school, playing junior varsity as a sophomore and struggling with the incoordination of his long limbs, Muszynski said, he picked up a D-I offer with Belmont spring of his junior year.
Today, Muszynski has been awarded multiple All-OVC First Team honors, becoming the first Bruin in the program’s NCAA D-I era to earn this accolade as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
Stacking up major points throughout each of his seasons, Muszynski is on track to beat Evan Bradds’ Belmont scoring record of 1,921 points.
Averaging 17 points a game, Muszynski was named to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Watch List, Lindy’s Preseason OVC Player of the Year and 2021-22 Lou Henson National Player of the Year Midseason Watch List.
Muszynski knows this success is not to be taken lightly, especially coming back from COVID-19 shutdowns where collegiate athletes face a world compromised by uncertainty.
Everyone tried to find hope in something to get through this difficult time and Muszynski, he held on to his love for basketball and his fellow Bruins. Coming back to the court, Muszynski’s goal was to be the best possible leader for his team.
“We have guys like Grayson Murphy who’s our emotional leader and Luke Smith is our vocal leader, where I’m more of the includer on the team,” he said.
Both the aforementioned teammates know he’s a player they can depend on.
“Moose is great and it has been fun to play with him all these years. We trust Moose to deliver for us,” junior guard Murphy said.
“Moose is the consummate teammate and a huge part of our success. People see his scoring and blocked shots, but I think he enjoys passing more than anything else,” said graduate guard Smith.
“He’s one of the first guys to celebrate a huge play by a teammate. Can’t say enough good things about Moose.”
Above all, Muszynski prides himself in putting the team first.
Making his teammates feel included is his mission, and he continuously tries to put a smile on their faces, whether it’s by cracking jokes or recounting how he lost his first tooth in basketball, he said.
What comes before a student-athlete’s athletics, however, is school, and with a degree in corporate communications, Muszynski is now in the masters of business administration’s accelerated program at Belmont.
“Nick is someone I would like to have in any class I teach as well as someone I would love to have as a next-door neighbor,” said Ernest Heard, professor of theology and Chrisitan ministry at Belmont.
Whether it’s school or sports, Belmont has had a huge influence on Muszynski’s life, giving him the opportunity to pursue his athletic and academic career.
With the OVC championship tournament — and Musynski’s departure — getting closer, a chapter of life after Belmont lies ahead for No. 33.
But once a Bruin, always a Bruin.
“You don’t choose your family, but when you choose Belmont, you do get that family,” Muszynski said.
PHOTO: No. 33 Nick Muszynski looking for a pass around the Furman Paladins on Nov. 15. The Bruins won 95-89 in overtime. Belmont Vision / Jessica Mattsson
This article was written by Camden Morris.