By: K.J. Wylie/GCU Staff
The Grand Canyon University men’s club basketball program found themselves in new territory this season as they transitioned into the National Club Basketball Association (NCBBA) league. After coming within six points of reaching nationals for the first time in March, four Lopes’ players were rewarded by the Southern Pacific Region (SoPac) with All-Region honors.
Lopes’ guard Zac Ramirez and forward Nathaniel “Nato” Cessna were both voted SoPac 1st Team All-Region, while Lopes’ guard Dennis Shouse and center K.C. Mathiang earned 2nd Team All-Region honors.
This milestone for GCU marks the first of its kind in program history, and Lopes’ Head Coach Jeremy Basham is confident he knows when each of the players secured their spot on the team.
“It was one particular game up in NAU where we clinched (the) division (title),” said Basham. “All four guys played phenomenally. Dennis took great care of the ball, Zac hit clutch free throws down the line, K.C. made his presence felt with blocks and rebounds, and Nathaniel led the way down the stretch.”
Each of the four players had played together on the team in 2016-17, but came from different places, and Basham saw their development and chemistry come together this past season.
“Watching them mesh together in their second season was a privilege to see,” said Basham. “Each one pushed each other so hard, which brought out their best play. You could tell they really developed a bond with one another, and that spread to the rest of the team.”
Bigger than Basketball
With Ramirez and Mathiang both graduated and moving on, Grand Canyon will have their hands full next year finding players to replace the level of production those two provided. Basham, however, hasn’t given much thought to something a whole summer away.
“Of course it’s going to be tough to replace two great leaders such as themselves, but I’m so happy for them,” said Basham. “I mentioned it before. GCU has the right environment here that not only allows our players to succeed, but these guys will be friends for life, and that’s what’s most important.”