Joey Piatt (@joey_piatt)
With his Franklin & Marshall basketball team sidelined due to a pandemic-induced cancellation of the 2020-2021 season, Nick Nichay spent last season hitting the road. Nichay had just been named the Diplomats’ head coach that spring, and with no season to prepare for, Nichay — who had previously served as F&M’s lead assistant and recruiting coordinator under longtime boss Glenn Robinson — saw recruiting as the best way to rebuild his program.
Franklin & Marshall, like many schools in the Centennial Conference, has both a strong academic and athletic tradition. The Diplomats’ success on the hardwood traces back to their days in the Middle Atlantic Conference, where Robinson led the team to 11 MAC championships. When Franklin and Marshall moved to the Centennial Conference, it kept winning both at the conference and national level. Over the next two decades, the Diplomats secured eight Centennial titles and had several Final Four appearances, as well as a handful of Elite Eight runs.
This basketball tradition, when paired with the academic reputation of Centennial schools, allows F&M to be a sort of “destination school” for prospects. It also allows Nichay to be selective in the players he brings into his program as he looks to bring F&M its first conference title since 2016.
John Seidman (above) has become an immediate key part of the F&M rotation. (Photo courtesy Dave Sinclair/F&M Athletics)
In a rebuild like that, talent matters, but so does fit. And in the case of the Diplomats’ newest star, there was no question about it: he fit.
“I would just describe him as an F&M player just the way he approaches things and how he plays the game,” Nichay said.
Before he was sinking baskets on the floor of F&M’s Mayser Gymnasium, John Seidman was making noise in his hometown of Ardmore, where he was a standout player for Keith Heinerichs’ Haverford High program.
After winning just two games the year before Seidman joined the varsity team, Haverford improved that total to eight the following season. The team, and Seidman, continued to steadily progress the following year, when the Fords reached the Central League playoffs. A year after that, Haverford secured their first league title in half a century.
The program’s rise was, in part, sparked by Seidman’s emergence as an all-around playmaker. While he had emerged as a well-rounded player, at the front of Seidman’s game was his offensive production. By the time he graduated, Seidman was not just a 1,000-point scorer, but he was also the third-highest scorer in Haverford High history.
This production caught Nichay’s attention, and without a season full of F&M practices and games, Nichay jumped at every chance he had to watch Seidman in action.
Seidman (above) led Haverford High to the 2020 Central League championship. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
“Because of the COVID year, we didn’t play, [and] we got on the road more than we normally would’ve been able to,” Nichay said. “So, we saw him play a ton. We were at almost every game we could get to. We really were impressed with him.
“He was one of those guys [where] you like him the first time you see him [and] you like him even more the next time. He’s always doing something to just impress you more, and he just impacts the game in so many ways. He’s so consistent.”
Nichay’s efforts to be present during Seidman’s senior year did not go unnoticed by the Haverford standout either. In fact, when Seidman committed to F&M in March of 2021, interactions with F&M players and coaches are what stuck out the most.
“Just talking to coaches — and I was able to talk to a couple of players and people that have come to school here — drew me here,” Seidman said. “That’s kind of why I ended up here.”
Seidman quickly became known across the Main Line for his talents as a jack-of-all-trades player on the court. It’s a skill set that Seidman has continued to flash at the college level, where he has been able to contribute in a variety of ways. While his numbers speak to that versatility — Seidman is averaging 11.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game — it’s been the more unmeasurable contributions that have caught attention.
It hasn’t been uncommon for the 6-foot-3 Seidman to be matched up against an opposing team’s best player, who just so happens to be a big man that’s taller and stronger. It also isn’t abnormal for the young guard to run the point and serve as the facilitator for the F&M offense. Seidman has been given a lot of responsibility early in his college basketball career, but he hasn’t shied away from it.
“He tends to step up when needed and when competition gets fiercer,” Nichay said. “We throw a lot of stuff at him, and he’s handled it in stride.”
Seidman (above) has brought his scoring, rebounding, passing and defensive abilities to the Diplomats' roster. (Photo courtesy Dave Sinclair/F&M Athletics)
Seidman’s hot start to his F&M career was partly propelled by his high school experience. While most college basketball players enter college with high school accolades and scoring records, Seidman entered with something even more valuable.
“A lot of the defense that we learned in high school translated a lot to college,” Seidman said. “The way we practice and some of the things we do are similar here from high school.
“Some of the defensive drills we do, we did a lot in high school. So, I feel like that was passed on, and I learned a lot from that.”
That head start on defense has played a big part in Seidman’s success on that side of the ball. The Ardmore native has 14 steals and 10 blocks halfway through the Diplomats’ season.
Seidman’s emergence as a playmaker for Nichay’s squad has been anything but subtle. At the same time, it has helped a young F&M program stay as competitive as possible during its rebuild. Currently, the Diplomats sit at 4-6 (1-2 Centennial). This instant impact will likely have Centennial Conference coaches factoring the young guard into their game plans, however, and as the film on Seidman’s game starts to grow, teams will start to play into his weaknesses.
Continuing to play at such a high level will be difficult and will take a lot of hard work in the gym. However, Seidman’s maturity has encouraged Nichay, who knows that this is just the beginning of freshman’s journey as a talented basketball player.
“He’s going to have to work for it,” Nichay said. “But he’s off to such a good start that he’s positioning himself to have what could be a really nice career.”
For Seidman, playing basketball F&M has been a dream come true. And although his rise as a player has been meteoric, he’s still soaking up every single minute of his experience.
“I’ve always wanted to play [college basketball],” Seidman said. “So being able to play and actually get on the court was great, and being able to help the team is great.”