Feature Story

Netting National Recognition

March 2, 2018 – by Ohio Wesleyan University

Ohio Wesleyan’s Nate Axelrod is the first men’s basketball player in NCAC history to be named Player of the Year three times and only the third to be a four-time, first-team All-NCAC selection. (Photo by Sara Blake)

Men’s Basketball Player Nate Axelrod Scores Multiple Honors

Ohio Wesleyan fans have long known that senior guard Nate Axelrod is one of the top men’s basketball players in NCAA Division III, and further proof arrives almost daily as this season’s accolades begin to pour in.

Earlier this week, Axelrod was selected as one of 10 men’s finalists for the Jostens Trophy, a national award created by the Rotary Club of Salem (Va.) to honor the most outstanding men’s and women’s NCAA Division III basketball players of the year. The award takes into account three vital parts: basketball ability, academic prowess, and community service. The trophy models the Rotary International motto of “Service Above Self” by recognizing those who truly fit the ideal of the well-rounded NCAA Division III student-athlete. This season marks the 21st presentation of the awards, with the inaugural trophies bestowed in 1998.

Axelrod was named North Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year for the third year in a row and a first-team All-NCAC selection for the fourth straight season. He is the first men’s basketball player in NCAC history to be named Player of the Year three times and only the third to be a four-time, first-team All-NCAC selection. Axelrod was named NCAC Newcomer of the Year in 2015.

He also is in the mix for another national Player of the Year award, having been named to the Top 50 Watch List for the Bevo Francis Award. The Clarence “Bevo” Francis Award is presented annually to the player who has had the finest overall season within small college basketball (NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA, USCAA, and NCCAA). The award is presented by Small College Basketball, and named after Bevo Francis, a legendary scorer who twice averaged at least 48.0 points per game during his career at Rio Grande College (now the University of Rio Grande).

Axelrod ranks fifth in NCAA Division III in assists (6.8/game) and leads the NCAC in scoring (19.2 points/game) and assists, becoming the first player in NCAC 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 3-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). He was named to All-America teams after both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

His accomplishments are not limited to the hardwood. Axelrod was named to the Academic All-District® VII men’s basketball teams and has advanced to the Academic All-America® ballot, it was announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America. The Academic All-District® teams are selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America, with District VII consisting of schools in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. To be considered for the teams, one must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 or better and be a starter or important reserve. Axelrod was an Academic All-America® choice in 2017.