Christian Nitu Q&A
In only its second year as a program, Fort Erie International Academy (Canada) is making a name for itself as a breeding ground for elite Canadian basketball talent. After graduating Leonard Miller to the G League Ignite, one of the Falcons’ latest projects is developing 6’11” forward Christian Nitu. Nitu, a 2024 four-star prospect, was invited to the 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah to participate in the prestigious Basketball Without Borders Global Camp along with fellow countrymen Felix Kossaras and Hudson Ward. Playing on the international stage last summer at the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup for Canada, Nitu gained invaluable reps and averaged almost six points in 12 minutes played per game. While still just scratching the surface, he possesses long-term upside due to a unique combination of size, skill, and fluidity.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Nitu discussed his basketball journey, having Romanian roots, the latest with recruitment, including openness to alternative routes, skills as a soccer goalkeeper, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2024 prospect Christian Nitu, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada:
Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and family.
Christian Nitu: Yeah, so my family is originally from Romania. They kind of moved down here, my parents met each other, talked a lot, and had me. But I feel like going into school, I always loved basketball. I love soccer, too, but I kind of liked basketball more. It was really intriguing for me. My friends all around me, we all played basketball. You know, I was never really good. I eventually grew and then watched a lot of film on guys like Tracy McGrady, Dirk, KD, Porzingis — like all those guys. Those wings, those forwards, those tall guys that could really handle it and shoot it. I kind of took skills from each guy and kind of put it into my own thing. People draw a lot of comparisons for me, but I kind of feel like when my high school time is done, I'm going to be my own player. I'm going to be the only Christian Nitu. So that's really what it is for me.
PI: Any other athletes in the family?
CN: There was no professional like world-level athletes or like high-level prospects from my background. Yeah, there was no one in my background like that so I guess I can say I'm the first one. I'm just honored and I have full support from my parents.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths and playstyle?
CN: I really feel like I run really well up and down the floor, big strides, so good at rim running, just getting easy baskets like that. I’m a lefty and a lot of guys guard right-handed players, so sometimes I'll take it off the bounce and sometimes it's like a shock for defenders, 'cause when I cross from right to left they'll think I'm going right 'cause normally they guard right-handed players so that's one thing for me. I feel like my shot opens my game up because being able to pick-and-pop, being able to roll is a big part. It just opens up the floor, being able to pop, attacking long close outs with having big strides just allows me to get downhill. And of course going from coast to coast after grabbing a defensive rebound. Normally a big would look for a guard. I like to just push it up and then make a play from there. Like I said, you can play me anywhere from the two to the five. I feel like I don't really have a position. You can play me multiple actions, I can handle it really well. I can shoot it off the bounce. I could shoot in the mid-range. I can bang with guys in the post. So I feel like whatever the defense throws at me, I kind of have a counter.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
CN: Now the main thing is on the defensive end. I can block shots, but just the instincts, defensively. I think I need better defensive instincts, which comes from experience. So I think with time I'll naturally get that by playing a lot, a lot of pick up, one-on-one and then of course AAU and my prep season. I feel defensive rebounding is also something I need to work on. Of course, I have the length and all the tools, but I just have to put everything together. Like I said, with experience and guys holding me accountable, I think I'll become a great two-way player, but I feel like it's just a matter of time for me. And like I said, ambition. Just having an ambition to do things and the drive to work on my weaknesses more than my strengths is just, I feel like with time, I’ll get there.
PI: What are your current measurements?
CN: I mean, right now I think my wingspan is 7’1”. It's not an official measurement. Like I said, 6’11”, 6’10.5”, around that range. My weight right now, I'm like 190, 195 pounds. So I mean, I'm not so worried about the weight, it's just the strength. Just getting strong and I feel like that weight will just come eventually.
PI: Do you have a training regimen? Who do you train with?
CN: Yeah, so with my coach from Fort Erie International Academy, whenever we workout we'd always start with foot speed. I feel like ladders and jump rope are a big part of my warm up because of course I’m playing out on the perimeter more. I like to play out on the perimeter. I like to break guys down. You gotta have quick feet. Just ladders and skipping rope every day, no matter if it's a workout or I'm at home, I try to get the foot speed stuff done for my warmup. Of course I do like your Mikans, get my touch around the rim, getting that soft touch. We get into a lot of three-level scoring and what I mean by that, depending on the defender I get, he’s a 6’7” big, aggressive, fast. I'd work on my bumps on the second level so at the mid-range. So just bumping and using my step back to shoot over guys. If it's a 6’10”, 6’11” slower-footed big man, just taking them out on the perimeter and blowing past them and using shot fakes, all that stuff. If you put a 6’3” athletic, quick guard on me, I'll just take it down in the post. So a lot of it is working on situational stuff. What it is in games is, like I said, what defender I get is how I’ll play so that's really what it is right now for the offensive side. On the defensive side, of course, I just get my pushups, my squats, my planks. Of course, I lift. I just gotta work on my body a lot and make sure I’m good for the whole season.
PI: How did the opportunity come about to attend Fort Erie International Academy?
CN: I was at my old school and I really sat down and thought about opportunity. Like what is a better opportunity for me to grow and experience stuff? You know, a lot of seniors from Fort Erie graduated so I feel like it was just set out for me, like the situation was good because there's not gonna be as many guys. Me just going in there and being able to make mistakes, and playing through my mistakes is just going to help me grow. So going into Fort Erie, being able to make mistakes, and learning from those mistakes is ultimately going to make me a better player, so that's really what it was for my decision, becoming more experienced. Winning while developing, developing while winning.
PI: Who have you enjoyed playing with?
CN: Yeah. I mean, there's a couple guys like Ishan Sharma — that's my teammate from the Canadian National Team. Char Yeiy, we played together previously as well. I think we’ll have a good season and a good bond.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player?
CN: Short term goals. I really want to get stronger, like I said, and flourish. I have all the tools I need, but once I put everything together I feel like I'm just gonna break out. Working on things on the defensive end, rebounding just to keep me on the court. And to be honest, sky’s the limit.
PI: What was your highlight playing at the U17 World Cup for Canada?