Nicholas Kratholm knew exactly what he was looking for in a college, both academically and athletically.
Niagara University checked both boxes in a big way.
Kratholm, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward from Louisville, Kentucky, verbally committed to join the Purple Eagles on Sunday, close to two weeks after taking an official visit to Monteagle Ridge.
Kratholm averaged 10.2 points and 6.5 rebounds as a sophomore last season at Miami Dade College, a NJCAA Division I junior college in Florida. He picked Niagara over UMBC, Cal Poly, Sony Brook, Robert Morris and Morehead State.
Niagara's academics were the biggest draw, said Kratholm, who was valedictorian of Waggener High School's Class of 2016. He said he plans to major in math or science with hopes of pursing a master's degree in a biotechnology field to work in developing prosthetics.
"It came down to Niagara being the option that I was really pursuing at the end of the season," Kratholm said. "I took an official visit there, met with some academic people. ...
"It was the best visit. It was relaxed. I had a good workout with the coaches, an open gym with the team, and (was) able to see campus and really experience what it's going to be like to be there. My mom was with me, and she was very excited about it."
On the court, Kratholm is very familiar with new NU coach Patrick Beilein's system. After graduating high school, Kratholm decided to prep a year at the prestigious IMG Academy in Florida, which calls itself "the world's largest and most advanced multi-sport training and educational institution."
IMG's coach, John Mahoney, was director of basketball operations at West Virginia and an assistant coach at Michigan under John Beilein and runs the two-guard system that's propelled the eldest Beilein to the NBA.
"I kind of envision myself having a leadership role," Kratholm said. "Once everyone kind of buys in and is on the same page, it's very effective, and anyone who watches Michigan basketball knows that because it's the same thing they do."
After IMG, Kratholm landed in the Atlantic 10 at Duquesne, where he made only nine appearances as a freshman.
Kratholm said he was "basically forced to leave" as the coaching staff pulled his scholarship.
"It was a tough situation," he said. "... They didn't feel like I brought to the table what they wanted. They didn't want me anymore. I actually found out through an email that my athletic scholarship was not going to be renewed.
"I never imagined myself as a junior college player, and it really humbled (me). ... Basketball-wise, I got a whole lot better. I like to say I'm a much tougher player now, having played in the junior college circuit."
Kratholm is the only player over 6-8 on Niagara's roster and will likely have a shot at starting as a junior. The Purple Eagles have two scholarships remaining.
Niagara received another verbal commitment from Trey Syroka, a high school point guard who is expected to walk-on, per recruiting website VerbalCommits.
The 5-10 Syroka earned second team all-district honors playing for Whitmer High School in Toledo, Ohio. He confirmed his commitment on Sunday.
Purple Eagles pitcher Matthew Brash was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's Pitcher of the Year on Tuesday.
Brash was also named first team All-MAAC, while freshman shortstop Max Giordano made the All-Rookie team.
Brash went 4-5 as a junior, setting the Niagara single-season strikeout record with 121, which led the MAAC and was 10th in the country. He finished with a MAAC-best 2.43 ERA, the second-lowest mark in NU history. He also led the conference in batting average against (.194).
Giordano started 45 games and finished the season with 42 hits and a .261 batting average. He was second on the Purple Eagles in RBI (29), doubles (nine), triples (two) and home runs (five). He scored 21 runs and had three stolen bases.
Former NU hockey player Johnny Curran ('19) reached a deal to play professionally in England, the athletic department announced Tuesday.
Curran will join the Coventry Blaze of the Elite Ice Hockey League. He totaled 26 goals and 29 assists in 131 games over a four-year career with Niagara.