Nate Axelrod ’18 – Branch Rickey Arena

Nate Axelrod ’18 has felt at home on a basketball court since he started playing at age 5. Since coming to Ohio Wesleyan, that home has been Branch Rickey Arena, which is marking its 41st season of play. Nate was named North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Newcomer of the Year in 2015 as a freshman and hasn’t stopped piling up the accolades since. In February, his point guard play helped the men’s basketball team (21-7) secure the conference championship for the third consecutive season. Nate was named NCAC Offensive Player of the Year, first-team All-Great Lakes District team and second-team All-America by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and was a first team All-NCAC selection for the third season. He’s the first OWU men’s basketball player to repeat as NCAC Player of the Year since 1987, when Scott Tedder ’88 did.

Friends and brothers
Nate is a member of Phi Delta Theta, which he joined as a freshman because several of his fellow basketball players were brothers and he enjoyed the environment.
Scrappy can-do spirit
Nate makes a statement on the court, but not by towering over his opponents. He’s 5’ 7”.
Counting the wins
A talent for math prompted Nate to choose a finance major when he enrolled at OWU. “I’ve always been good with numbers and wanted to see a real-world application.” He was named second-team Academic All-America® this season.
Basketball is a contact sport
He has earned more than accolades this season. Nate earned a scar over his left eye after taking an elbow while chasing a loose ball during a game against Denison.
Superstitious eater
Nate’s home game routine includes his special meal of a footlong sub from Subway with ham, provolone, and spinach on honey oat bread – no mayo or mustard. “I’m high-maintenance.”
Going for 3
Nate’s jersey number is 3. He says a lot of great point guards have worn that number, including Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, and Chris Paul. And Nate’s an expert at 3-pointers. As a freshman, he set the OWU season record for 3-point shooting percentage, 46.3 percent.
Sweet spot
Nate can find his shot from just about anywhere, but he admits a preference for the top right of the arc. “College basketball is a lot faster-paced than high school basketball, and as a freshman you have to step in there and get adjusted. I think I did a pretty good job.”
Going on offense
Nate’s average 17.6 points and 4.7 assists per game were fourth in the NCAC.
A shoe for every occasion
Nate loves collecting shoes, including his favorite: the Nike Kobe X Elite. On game day, he puts his right sock on first, then the left, and then his left shoe, then the right one. Call it practicing his crossover.
Don’t let it go to your head
Nate played basketball all four years at Dublin (Ohio) Coffman High School, and he kept this memento of a giant cutout of his head from his Senior Night. Which is not weird at all.

–  A.L. Davies ’19

Return to the Spring 2017 OWU Magazine