By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications, (503) 370-6110
SALEM, Ore. -- Three Willamette University men's basketball players have been named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honors Court for the 2016-17 season as a result of their success in the classroom. Bearcats who qualified for the Honors Court are Dylan Critchfield (Jr., P, Broomfield, CO/Standley Lake HS), Hayden Russell (Sr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy), and Nico Troplent (Jr., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS).
A total of eight athletes on Northwest Conference teams received Honors Court recognition. In addition to Critchfield, Russell and Troplent, three athletes were named from Lewis & Clark College along with one athlete from Whitman College.
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 2016-17 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.
Russell graduated this spring, while Critchfield and Troplent will be seniors in 2017-18. Russell qualified for the Honors Court for the second year in a row.
NABC Honors Court
Dylan Critchfield (Jr., Post), who is majoring in Computer Science, played in 19 games with eight starts in 2016-17 despite battling injuries. He led the team with a 54.4% field goal percentage (43 of 79), provided 47 rebounds and blocked 11 shots. In his three seasons with the Bearcats, has hauled down 130 rebounds to go along with 25 blocked shots.
Critchfield has played in 62 games in his career with 18 starts. He grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds against Northwest Christian University on Nov. 19, 2016, while completing a double-double with a career-high 11 points. He has blocked four shots in one game twice.
"As much injury adversity as Dylan dealt with during the season, it is amazing he was still able to maintain such a high performance mindset and achieve such a strong GPA," Willamette Head Men's Basketball Coach Kip Ioane said.
Hayden Russell (Sr., Wing) majored in Economics at Willamette, and played in all 25 games each of the past two seasons. He started 16 games as a senior, while averaging a career-high 8.8 points per game. He also earned 72 rebounds, 39 assists and 23 steals. In 2015-16, he hit 82.4% of his free throw attempts (28 of 34).
In four years at Willamette, Russell scored 498 points (5.0 avg.), while playing in 99 games with 22 starts. He achieved 135 rebounds, 87 assists and 53 steals. He scored a career-high 22 points against Goerge Fox University on Jan. 13, 2017 and matched that total in the final game of his carer on Feb. 18, 2017 against Linfield College.
"We challenge our seniors and our captains (which Hayden was) to lead on and off the court and this is a testament to his doing that for us all year long," Ioane commented.
Nico Troplent (Jr., Wing) has scored 688 points in his first three seasons with the Bearcats for a career average of 9.3 points per game. He has recorded 292 rebounds (3.9 avg.), plus 89 assists and 93 steals in 74 games played (64 starts). As a student, he is majoring Economics.
In 2016-17, Troplent scored 210 points (8.4) avg.) and grabbed 132 rebounds to lead the Bearcats with 5.3 rebounds per game. He registered 32 assists and 32 steals, while playing in all 25 games with 22 starts. He scored a career-high 24 points against Southern Oregon University on Nov. 14, 2015 and was credited with a career-high 14 rebounds against George Fox on Jan. 13, 2017.
"Nico is a vital member of our program," Ioane said. "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."