OBSERVER ATHLETE OF THE WEEK — Nutley’s Schroeder starts senior year as sizzling scorer

Nick Schroeder waited patiently for four seasons to finally get his moment in the sun.

“It’s my senior year,” said the Nutley High School swingman. “I was very psyched for it. I knew I had to step up into the captain’s role.”

So to prepare for the upcoming season, Schroeder played AAU off-season basketball with the Unity Legends, a program based out of Summit. The coach there is Wellington Smith, the former West Virginia University standout who helped the Mountaineers to the NCAA Final Four his senior year there.

“I’ve learned a lot from him,” Schroeder said of Smith. “He taught me a lot about what I should do off the court, like what to eat and how to eat, the little details. I definitely cut out on junk food. I knew I had to get my body stronger, so I was in the weight room ah lot. I knew that I wanted to play college basketball, so I had to get myself bigger, stronger, quicker.”

Schroeder has been a starter for the Maroon Raiders since his sophomore season, so he’s aware of what is needed of him.

“I was ready to lead this team this season,” Schroeder said. “Harb (Nutley head coach Bob Harbison) told me that I had to lead this team if we were going to win. If someone had to step up, I knew it had to be me.”

Harbison knew that Schroeder had to be the main man for the Maroon Raiders this season.

“He was always the kid that you had to watch,” Harbison said. “I think we all knew we had to get the ball to Nick. He’s always done things the right way. He also has no ego. Everyone looks to him to be the leader. I think that was understood without being said. The kid plays quietly and within himself.”

Schroeder has been playing lights out since the season began last month. He’s averaging 17.4 points per game through nine games. Over the last week, Schroeder has been even better, scoring 23 points against Belleville, 24 against Montclair Kimberley Academy, 15 against Cedar Grove and 23 Saturday afternoon in a loss to Shabazz.

For his efforts, Schroeder has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week, the first honoree of the 2022 scholastic winter sports season.

Harbison counts on the 6-foot-2 Schroeder to do a lot of different things for the Raiders.

“His mistakes are minimal,” Harbison said. “He knows when he forces things. But he has free reign. I tell him, ‘If you’re open, you shoot.’ He has a limitless option. He can shoot the 3 (three-point shot) well, but he’s been expanding his range. He uses his body well. He also has to handle the ball quite a bit. He handles pressure very well.”

Harbison also gives Schroeder the ultimate compliment.

“He’s a good guy to play with,” Harbison said. “He’s a great teammate. And his teammates are trying to get him the ball. They always seem to know where he is. He knows how to get free and knows what to do with the ball. He’ll take the ball on a rebound and go right down the floor.”

Schroeder said that he’s just doing what is expected of him.

“Everyone has their role,” Schroeder said. “I think everyone is finding their role. We all have to play defense and rebound. With our seniors, I don’t think anyone minds their role.”

And Schroeder doesn’t mind playing almost every position on the floor.

“I don’t always match up at the three (small forward),” Schroeder said. “If I’m better matched up at the one (point guard), then I’ll play there. I don’t mind bringing the ball up at all. I always feel like I could do more to help us win.”

Schroeder likes the relationship he enjoys with Harbison.

“Harb will let me see how the game is going,” Schroeder said. “He’s very smart and sees things that the other team doesn’t see. We get along well.”

Schroeder has already declared his intentions to play college basketball next year at York College in Pennsylvania.

“I’m really excited about it,” Schroeder said. “The coaches at York have kept in touch with me through the pandemic and through AAU season. I took some visits to the school and met the players and coaches. I didn’t want to go to a big school. I think there’s a bright future there for me.”
Schroeder will more than likely major in engineering at York.

“I think he’s going to be a good player in college,” Harbison said. “He’s going to get bigger and stronger.”

For now, Schroeder is concentrating on his senior season.

“I feel like we can win the division,” said Schroeder, whose Maroon Raiders currently sit atop the standings in the Super Essex Conference-Freedom Division.

If it happens, then it will be Schroeder leading the way. For sure.

“He’s going to get the ball,” Harbison said. “No doubt about that. I think he’s found his rhythm right now and we’re doing the smart thing by getting out of his way.”




Nutley senior guard/forward Nick Schroeder. Photo by Jim Hague

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”