Max Zakheim, men’s basketball Bryant at NCAA Tournament for the first time

Big dreams and lofty goals propelled Max Zakheim and Bryant University onto the biggest stage in college basketball.

Zakheim, a Bergenfield native and former Frisch School standout, will fit when No. 16 seed Bryant makes his first NCAA Division I Tournament appearance on Wednesday. The Rhode Island-based school will take on Wright State in a qualifying game in Dayton, Ohio (6:40 p.m. on truTV).

“It’s all been a great experience, not just for me, but for the entire Bryant community. It’s everything I’ve imagined since I was a kid,” said Zakheim, a 5-foot-11 freshman guard. thumbs up. “The atmosphere and excitement around campus has been amazing. Just being part of it is special. Being part of the tournament is something every Division I college strives for.

In a reserve role with the Bulldogs, Zakheim has played three games this season and says the experience and progress he has made as a player and teammate has been invaluable.

Bryant guard Luis Hurtado celebrates with the trophy as fans rush onto the field after the Bulldogs defeated Wagner in the NEC title game.

“My involvement in the team prepares me for the future. I’m a freshman and I understand my role here,” Zakheim, 20, said. “We have very talented players and they all help us to become better.”

Everything leading up to this point has prepared Zakheim for his journey ahead.

Growing up in Bergenfield, he played basketball and ice hockey, but turned to hardwood in third grade. He attended elementary school at Yavneh Academy, an Orthodox Jewish day school located in Paramus before landing at Frisch School, a coeducational yeshiva high school.

“Yavneh and Frisch were great experiences both academically and socially. The years at school really prepared me for my future,” Zakheim said. “I learned a lot growing up and was able to play the game I love at an advanced level.”

At Frisch, Zakheim served as a varsity starter and team captain for two years. He averaged 20 points per game and earned All-League first-team honors in his senior year.

In the summer of 2019, he won a gold medal as a member of Team USA at the Under-18 Maccabi Pan American Games in Mexico City.

After graduating from Frisch, Zakheim played a preparatory year at Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut.

“When I graduated from high school, we were in the early stages of the pandemic and I saw how difficult it was to get into college where I could play basketball,” Zakheim said. . “My goal was to play Division I basketball and I thought it would be best to take a year off to develop and mature as a player and a person. Canterbury really prepared me for the next level. am surrounded by great coaches and mentors and that is how the opportunity to attend Bryant came about.

Bryant guard Peter Kiss, right, hugs Wagner head coach Bashir Mason after winning the Northeastern Conference NCAA Men's College Basketball Championship game on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at Smithfield, RI Kiss scored 34 points as Bryant beat Wagner 70-43 and advanced to enter the March Madness tournament.

Last week, top-seeded Bryant captured his first Northeast Conference championship with a 70-43 win over second-seeded Wagner on March 8. The win earned the Bulldogs an automatic bid for the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Bryant (22-9), winner of 16 of his last 17 games, will bring his seven-game winning streak to Wednesday’s NCAA Tournament first four game against Wright State (21-13).

Wright State is a 3.5-point favorite in the game, according to Tipico Sportsbook.

“We’ve played in front of big crowds this year and expect even bigger turnout on Wednesday,” Zakheim said. “It’s a great way to start my college career. I will capitalize on this experience and make a better player.

Nick Gantaifis is a high school sports reporter for For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get the latest news straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter and download our app.


Twitter: @ngantaifis1

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