By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- A total of eight Willamette University men's basketball players have been named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honors Court for the 2017-18 season due to their academic success. Bearcats who qualified for the Honors Court are Trent Callan (Jr., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS), Dylan Critchfield (Sr., P, Broomfield, CO/Standley Lake HS), Jordan Jenkins (Jr., F, Placentia, CA/Valencia HS), Brendon McCullough (Sr., G, San Antonio, TX/Home Schooled), Caleb Roberts (Jr., W, Salem, OR/North HS), Nathan Sherfey (Sr., F, Chehalis, WA/W.F. West HS) Nico Troplent (Sr., W, Guadaloupe, France/Cathedral HS), and Jameson Willems (Jr./So., F, Billings, MT/Skyview HS). Critchfield and Troplent also were chosen for the Honors Court in 2016-17.
Willamette's eight selections were the only Northwest Conference athletes who received Honors Court recognition this season.
In order to qualify for the NABC Honors Court athletes had to have a a 3.2 cumulative grade point average or higher at the end of the 2017-18 academic year. Each selection also had to be a varsity player who recently finished his junior or senior season. Every Honors Court athlete was at his current college or university for at least one full year.
Critchfield, McCullough, Sherfey and Troplent graduated from Willamette this spring. Callan, Jenkins and Roberts will be seniors in 2018-19. Willems, who suffered an injury during the 2017-18 season, will be a student volunteer coach for the Bearcats in 2018-19.
"This group of graduating seniors has really set the bar high for future classes that follow, as they not only accomplished a ton playing basketball, but were such extraordinary men off the floor as well," Willamette Head Men's Basketball Coach Kip Ioane said regarding the four senior award winners.
Regarding the four juniors who received the award, Ioane said, "Earning Honors Court as a junior sets the stage for what we think will be an outstanding final year for this group of guys."
NABC Honors Court
Trent Callan (Jr., Guard), who is majoring in Computer Science, played in 24 of 25 games in 2017-18 and made 23 starts for the Bearcats. He ranked second on the team with 58 assists for an average of 2.4 assists per game. He also provided Willamette with 3.8 rebounds per game, while ranking third on the squad with 91 total rebounds.
Callan has seen action in 66 games over the past three seasons. He has scored 368 points to go along with 168 rebounds and 97 assists. He scored a career-high 21 points against Elmhurst College (Ill.) on Dec. 30, 2017. He registered nine assists versus Pacific Lutheran University on Jan. 12, 2018.
"As a point guard, we demand that Trent be a leader for our program," Ioane said. "This award is another great testament to him showing the young guys what is expected."
Dylan Critchfield (Sr., Post) qualified for the Honors Court for the second year in a row. He majored in Computer Science at Willamette. Critchfield played in 23 games during the 2017-18 season. He was limited by injuries, but averaged 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in 8.6 minutes played per game.
During his career, Critchfield played in 85 games with 19 starts. He scored 234 points, hauled down 184 boards, and blocked 30 shots. He recorded a career-high 10 rebounds against Northwest Christian University on Nov. 19, 2016, while achieving a double-double with a career-high 11 points. He blocked four shots versus George Fox University on Jan. 19, 2016 and against the University of Texas at Tyler on Nov. 18, 2016.
"I think we will have to rename our Team Academic Award in honor of Dylan, as he has not only won it three consecutive years, but he now has this back-to-back Honors Court award to go with it," Ioane said.
Jordan Jenkins (Jr., Forward), an Economics major, led Willamette in scoring, rebounding, assists and blocked shots this past season. He averaged 13.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He earned 69 assists (2.8 avg.) and blocked 22 shots (0.9 avg.). He was named Second Team All-Northwest Conference and ranked third in the NWC in rebounding. He shot 54.1% from the field and scored 10 or more points 20 times.
Jenkins scored a career-high 22 points in a 70-64 win at Pacific University on Feb. 9, 2018. He has played in 55 games with 46 starts during his career. He has scored 608 career points for an average of 11.1 points per game. He also has accumulated 331 rebounds, 114 assists and 42 blocked shots.
"Jordan has committed himself to being a complete player and person" Ioane said. "His work ethic on the court, in the weight room, and most importantly, in the classroom is paying off with this honor."
Brendon McCullough (Sr., Guard) majored in Chemistry (Biochemistry track). This past season, he averaged 9.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. He led the Bearcats with 39 steals for 1.6 steals per contest. He also earned 43 assists. He ranked second in the team with career-high 31 three-point baskets and shot 35.6% from 3-point range.
In four seasons for Willamette, McCullough scored 902 points for an average of 9.4 points per game. He also brought down 259 rebounds to go along with 175 assists and 106 steals. He played in 96 games with 83 starts. He scored a career-high 25 points versus Trinity University (Texas) on Dec. 29, 2017. He recorded four steals in one game twice in his career, against University of California, Santa Cruz on Nov. 25, 2017 and against Colorado College on Dec. 30, 2014.
"Brendon (and Nico) are on the legacy mural in our team room for a reason ... they have simply defined what it means to be a truly great member of our program for four years, and this award is further proof of that." Ioane commented.
Caleb Roberts (Jr., Wing) played in 23 games this past season. He is majoring in Civic Communications and Media. He scored 12 points against Northwest Christian University (Ore.) on Nov. 17, 2017 and versus University of Puget Sound on Jan. 6, 2018.
Roberts has played in 43 games at Willamette, including 41 games over the past two seasons. He has shot 87.5% at the free throw line during his career (14 of 16), including 10 for 10 in 2016-17.
"Caleb is one of those kids all coaches want to coach ... no complaints, no nonsense, and no worries for me ever about his commitment to his grades or his game," Ioane said.
Nathan Sherfey (Sr., Forward) was an Economics major at Willamette. In 2017-18, he saw action in 25 games including 13 starts. He averaged 6.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, while connecting on a team-high 36 three-pointers. He shot 35.6% from behind the 3-point arc.
During his career with the Bearcats, Sherfey hit 71 three-point baskets and scored a total of 304 points. He earned a career-high 18 points against Portland Bible College on Dec. 9, 2017 and versus Trinity (Texas) 20 days later. He made five 3-pointers against Trinity and also hit five long-range shots against Whitworth University in the final game of his career on Feb. 17, 2018.
"I was so happy for Sherfey that he got to have his best on-court season for us as a senior. With this academic honor he experienced a great final campaign off the floor as well," Ioane said.
Nico Troplent (Sr., Wing) competed in 99 games with 89 starts during his Willamette career. He majored in Economics. As a senior, he averged 11.7 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game to rank second on the team in both categories. He also ranked second with 28 steals (1.1 avg.) and was third with 46 assists (1.8 avg.). He shot 86.1% at the free throw line (68 of 79). He joined McCullough as the only members of the team to start all 25 games.
He scored 981 career points for the Bearcat and hauled down 419 rebounds, as he averaged 9.9 pints and 4.2 boards per game. He earned 259 of his rebounds as a junior and a senior. He registered 135 assists, 121 steals and 25 blocks during his career. He scored a career-high 24 points against Southern Oregon University on Nov. 14, 2015 and against Pacific on Jan. 13, 2018. He grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds against George Fox University on Jan. 13, 2017.
(See Ioane's quote above about Troplent and McCullough)
Jameson Willems (Jr./So., Forward) is majoring in Spanish. He played in 21 games in 2017-18, but injuries limited him to an average of just 7.6 minutes per game. He scored nine points against crosstown rival Corban University on Dec. 8, 2017. He earned eight rebounds at UC Santa Cruz on Nov. 25, 2017.
In three seasons at Willamette, Willems played in 47 games. He battled injuries, especially the past two seasons, including 2016-17 when he played in only eight games. When healthy, he showed a solid ability to play the game and contribute on both offense and defense.
"Jameson is one of those glue guys every program needs," Ioane noted. "He is an example of a player who excels in the areas you need other guys to notice ... work ethic, citizenship, and classroom success. For someone as visible as he is to be such a great example of work ethic in the classroom, it makes my job as a coach challenging younger players to do the same that much easier."