Ohio Wesleyan sophomore guard Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman) has been named the Player of the Year to highlight the 2016 All-North Coast Athletic Conference men's basketball squad, announced on March 1st after voting by the conference's head coaches.
Axelrod, a first-team selection last winter and the reigning NCAC Newcomer of the Year, was the top distributor in conference play this season with 96 total assists (5.3 apg). He committed just 26 turnovers in 18 conference games for a league-leading 3.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. He finished in the top-five in scoring in fifth with 304 points (16.9 ppg) and was the second-best free throw shooter in the league at 83.3 percent (65-of-78). He has played a vital role in leading the Bishops to back-to-back NCAC Championships in his first two seasons in Delaware. Axelrod will now lead the Bishops into the NCAA Division III Tournament for the second year in a row after the Bishops received one of the 20 at-large berths into the 62-team field. OWU will open play in the national tournament at home on Friday (3/4) against Pitt.-Greensburg.
Wabash senior post Daniel Purvlicis (Noblesville, IN/Noblesville) joined Axelrod as the only other repeat selection on the top team, while OWU junior post Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest) elevated to the first team after earning second-team laurels in 2015.
Four players make their All-NCAC debut as members of the first team this season, including Ohio Wesleyan sophomore guard Seth Clark (Lewis Center, OH/Olentangy), Kenyon senior guard Tim Connolly (San Francisco, CA/Stuart Hall), Denison junior post Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) and Wooster sophomore guard Spencer Williams (Bedford, OH/Orange).
Speelman, a transfer from Division II Ashland University, was also tabbed as the 2016 NCAC Men's Basketball Newcomer of the Year after finishing the season as the league's second leading scorer in conference games with 320 points (17.8 ppg). He was also one of the top shooters in conference games this year, leading the league from the charity stripe at 85.6 percent (77-of-90) and ranking fourth from three-point range at 41.6 percent (37-of-89). After helping guide DU to its first NCAC Tournament title last weekend, Speelman and the Big Red have earned the NCAC's AQ into the NCAA Tournament and will travel to University Heights, Ohio, for an opening-round game against Alma at John Carroll University.
Hiram head coach Chris Kibler was voted the NCAC Coach of the Year for the first time in his career after orchestrating one of the best one-year turnarounds in recent history. After going 5-13 in league play and missing out on the conference tournament in 2015 in his first year at the helm, Kibler led the Terriers to a third-place finish in the league standings this season with a 12-6 mark against league foes. It was Hiram's best finish in NCAC play since also placing third in the 2008-09 season. He then guided the Terriers to their first-ever win in the NCAC Tournament as they knocked off Kenyon in the quarterfinal round by a 95-87 margin.
|Player of the Year||Newcomer of the Year||Coach of the Year|
|Nate Axelrod||Jett Speelman