Ohio Wesleyan senior guard Nate Axelrod (Dublin, OH/Coffman) was named the Player of the Year and Wittenberg head coach Matt Croci was named the Coach of the Year in the Great Lakes Region to highlight the list of NCAC representatives named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) 2017-18 All-Great Lakes District Team, it was announced on March 12th.
Axelrod, who is also making his third-straight appearance on the All-Great Lakes District first team, was also named NCAC Player of the Year for the third year in a row, making him the first men's basketball player in conference history to be so honored. He was a first-team All-NCAC selection for the fourth straight season, only the third men's basketball player in conference history to accomplish that feat. He was named NCAC Newcomer of the Year in 2015. Axelrod ranks fifth in NCAA Division III in assists (6.8/game). He led the NCAC in scoring (19.2 points/game) and assists, becoming the first player in conference history to lead the league in scoring and assists in a season. Axelrod also ranks second in the league in free throw percentage (.857), is tied for ninth in steals (1.2/game), and is 14th in three-point field goals (1.9/game). He finished his career as the second Ohio Wesleyan men's basketball player and the fourth in NCAC history to surpass the 2000-point mark, and is Ohio Wesleyan's all-time leader in assists (655) and consecutive games started (114).
Croci was named the Great Lakes District Coach of the Year for the first time in his career after guiding the Tigers to their first outright NCAC title since 2012 with a 16-2 mark against league foes and also helped them earn their first NCAC Tournament crown since 2006 with an 82-70 win over Ohio Wesleyan in the championship game. The Tigers not only swept the regular season NCAC titles, but also opened the season with a remarkable 22-game winning streak, before ending the 2017-18 campaign with a 27-3 record after falling to Wis.-Oshkosh in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
In addition, Wittenberg senior post Chad Roy (Toledo, OH/Holland Springfield) was also a first-team selection on the All-Great Lakes District first team for the first time in his career. Roy, who is the 33rd player in program history to score 1,000 career points, finished his senior campaign with 481 points (16.0 ppg) and 182 total rebounds (6.1 rpg), while also shooting 63 percent (178-of-283) from the field and 76 percent (121-of-159) at the free throw line.
Located in Kansas City, Missouri, the NABC was founded in 1927 by Forrest "Phog" Allen, the legendary basketball coach at the University of Kansas. Allen, a student of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, organized coaches into this collective group to serve as Guardians of the Game. The NABC currently has nearly 5,000 members consisting primarily of university and college men's basketball coaches. All members of the NABC are expected to uphold the core values of being a Guardian of the Game by bringing attention to the positive aspects of the sport of basketball and the role coaches play in the academic and athletic lives of today's student-athletes. The four core values of being a Guardian of the Game are advocacy, leadership, service and education. Additional information about the NABC, its programs and membership, can be found at www.nabc.org.