Ohio Wesleyan junior guard Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman) and Wittenberg senior guard Shane Edwards (Perrysburg, OH/Perrysburg) have been named the Players of the Year to highlight the 2017 All-North Coast Athletic Conference men's basketball squad after voting by the league's head coaches.
Axelrod, who is the reigning NCAC Player of the Year and now a three-time All-NCAC first-team selection, was once again the focal point in leading the Bishops to their third-straight NCAC regular season title. In 18 NCAC games, Axelrod finished second in the league in scoring with 325 points (18.1 ppg) and was once again the top distributor in the league with 86 total assists (4.8 apg). He scored in double figures in 16 of the 18 conference games this season, which included a career-high 39 points on 15-of-21 shooting from the field in an 84-78 win at Hiram on January 11th. His top single-game assist effort of the season came back on December 17th when he handed out nine assists and scored 21 points in a 96-85 home win over Kenyon. Axelrod is on pace to enter the NCAC's top-five in both career points and assists as he will enter his senior season having already accumulated 1,463 points and 464 assists.
Edwards, who is making his All-NCAC debut as a member of the honorable mention squad, was tabbed as the league's top defensive player throughout the conference slate after ranking fourth in the league in steals with 29 (1.6 spg) and fifth overall in defensive rebounds with 88 (4.9 rpg). Edwards, who was continuously tasked with guarding the opposing team's top scoring threat, helped the Tigers finish as the league's top defensive unit as they allowed just 1,162 points (64.6 ppg) in 18 conference games. He posted three double-digit rebounding performances against NCAC opponents, which included a season-high 12 boards (11 d, 1 o) in a narrow 76-70 loss at Ohio Wesleyan on January 18th.
Ohio Wesleyan senior post Ben Simpson (Lake Bluff, IL/Lake Forest) and Denison senior post Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) were both repeat selections on the top team, while Simpson is making his third overall appearance on an All-NCAC squad after collecting second-team honors in 2015.
DePauw senior guard Luke Lattner (Hinsdale, IL/Fenwick) made the jump to the first team after earning second-team laurels in both 2015 and '16, while Denison senior guard David Meurer (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) elevated to the first team after collecting honorable-mention honors in 2015.
For the third time in the last five years a Wabash rookie has earned the NCAC Men's Basketball Newcomer of the Year award. This year's honor went to freshman guard Colten Garland (Washington, IN/Washington) who finished sixth in the league in scoring with 288 points (16.0 ppg) and was the seventh-best three-point shooter in conference games after shooting 42 percent (55-of-131) from long distance. Garland, who also makes his All-NCAC debut on the honorable mention team, scored in double figures in 15 of the 18 conference games, highlighted by a season-high 37 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field and 9-of-10 shooting from three-point range in an 86-80 overtime win over arch-rival DePauw on January 18th.
Finally, Ohio Wesleyan head coach Mike DeWitt was named the NCAC Men's Basketball Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his career after leading the Bishops to their third-straight NCAC regular season title with a 16-2 mark against league foes. DeWitt, who has been at the helm of the OWU program for 18 years, earned his 300th-career win in Delaware back on February 4th in a 92-71 home win over Kenyon. In 23 total years as a head coach, DeWitt owns a career record of 356-261 and a 306-186 mark at OWU.
Player of the Year
Player of the Year
|Newcomer of the Year||Coach of the Year|
|Nate Axelrod||Shane Edwards||Colten Garland