Dream Makers: Nausadis, Ribel top boys basketball Dream Team as co-Players of the Year
Apr. 30—TRAVERSE CITY — The recruiting game has very much changed.
The rules changed, were bent or just plain turned upside down in recent years.
Take the recruiting voyage so far for two of northern Michigan's top basketball players, Wyatt Nausadis and Anthony Ribel.
The pair both have a lot going for them — tall, skilled guards who can score, shoot, defend and don't have any red flags.
The 6-foot-4 Nausadis led Traverse City St. Francis to its first state championship berth since 2012 and has plenty of game tape against quality competition, including draining a 3-pointer from the Michigan State Spartan logo in the finals.
The 6-foot-3 Ribel broke Traverse City Central scoring records held by Dan Majerle, who played for 14 years in the National Basketball Association, and willed the Trojans to their first district title since 2006.
Still, the recruiting trail isn't worn well enough for either's liking.
They share that in common, as well as Record-Eagle boys basketball Player of the Year honors.
"Ultimately, the transfer portal has been pretty tough to deal with," Ribel said. "Coaches are not knowing what to do because of the portal."
Ribel has a scholarship offer from Division 2 Lake Superior State, among many D2 and D3 schools, but equated the transfer portal to multiplying the number of available experienced JUCO players tenfold.
The transfer portal launched in 2018, allowing players to enter once and move from school to school without sitting out a season, as previous guidelines required. Going into the portal a second time forces a player to sit a season, like previous transfer rules.
There's reportedly well over 1,000 men's basketball players in the portal for coaches to choose from. What's resulted is a plethora of experienced free-agent talent that, combined with the Name Image and Likeness deals, transformed college recruiting.
Nausadis said a Texas school who had a guard enter the transfer portal several weeks ago contacted him.
"It's such a weird world," Nausadis said. "It's amazing the number of coaches that will reach out to me and then never talk to me again."
Nausadis averaged 20.3 points, 3.2 assists and 3.0 steals per game, improving his scoring from 18.5 points a game as a junior that also earned him Player of the Year accolades.
Ribel put up 25.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals a game, improving his defense and leading all area scorers despite being a focal point of every opponent's defense.
The transfer portal and NIL money aren't likely slowing down any time soon. What may help Ribel is most college athletes have used up their extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That bonus year led to many staying in school for an extra year. It also meant fewer roster spots opening up for new recruits.
"Anthony's recruiting may be different for a multitude of reasons," Nausadis said. "I could see him get a mid-major, but it might not be one he likes."
Nausadis says at least 25 Division 1 coaches have contacted him at various points. None came back with a scholarship offer so far.
While visiting one school in the last year, he met a player for that team that had received two medical redshirts, a COVID-19 year and was working on his third Master's degree.
"All that stuff has changed recruiting," Nausadis said.
So the Gladiators' all-time leading scorer instead heads next school year to a prep school in Boston, where he hopes additional exposure will bring that Division 1 offer he desires.
The Newman School is a small prep school of less than 300 students, located in a downtown Boston brownstone. He heads there in June for team camp, living in dorms and playing in tournaments, then starts classes in August. He'll only play basketball, with a longer 30-game game season, plus state and national tournaments.
Both players agreed that hailing from northern Michigan doesn't help. Many coaches won't travel up here to see players in person, and their best bet is to pay up thousands of dollars to play on travel teams. Nausadis is on a Milwaukee team this summer, while Ribel plays on one from Detroit.
"Northern Michigan is a trap," Nausadis said. "I love northern Michigan, but you're at a 25-percent disadvantage, at least. I guarantee if Anthony or I lived by Detroit, our recruiting would totally different."
Several St. Francis grads made a similar move several years ago when their recruitment didn't go as planned. Gladiators baseball players Jack Hitchens and Judd Lawson went to a Florida prep school for a year, then received spots at Adrian College.
"You don't know if they're just going to grab someone from the transfer portal," Ribel said. "It's chaotic. It makes he process less fun. But at the end of the day, you're still playing basketball."
Co-Players of the Year: Anthony Ribel, TC Central; Wyatt Nausadis, TC St. Francis
Wyatt Nausadis, TC St. Francis, Sr. — First-team all-state guard was on BCAM's Best of the Best team. Last year's Player of the Year followed that up with another great year, averaging 20.3 points, 3.2 assists and 3.0 steals per game. Led he Gladiators to the Division 3 state championship game.
Anthony Ribel, TC Central, Jr. — Second-team all-state guard set Big North Conference record for most single-season threes in league play with 31. Beat Dan Majerle's junior-season scoring record at TC Central with over 600 points. Passed 1,000 career points as a junior. Scored 31 vs. Cadillac, 35 against rival TC West and 39 in districts at Marquette.
Luke Hazelton, Glen Lake, Sr. — Michigan Tech commit battled to be the top big man in northern Michigan, along with Cade Trudeau and Evan Haverkamp. Averaged 22.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Shot 55 percent from the floor and 39 percent from three-point range at 6-foo-8.
Dylan Barnowski, Lake Leelanau St. Mary, Sr. — Second among all area players in assists per game at 6.6 (Ellsworth's Patrick Puroll led a 7.3), Barnowski also averaged 19.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. Helped lead Eagles to state semifinals as a junior.
Cade Trudeau, Petoskey, Sr. — Northwood commit led an 18-7 Petoskey team to district finals, with wins over Grand Ledge, Cadillac, Brighton, St. Johns and Mount Pleasant. Hit game-winner against Cadillac and send Mt. Pleasant contest to overtime in waning seconds. Averaged 19.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
Alex Calcaterra, Boyne City, Sr. — Michigan Tech commit was all-state in football and led the Ramblers to a share of the Lake Michigan Conference title. Averaged 19.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game, shooting 64 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range.
Defensive Player of the Year: Neil Ihme, Glen Lake — The Ih-raser led all area boys in blocked shot by a good margin (4.7 per game to 3.5 for the next best, Brethren's Garret Mobley). Added 8.9 rebounds, 8.8 points, 1.0 steals and 2.8 assists to his resume, committing to play at Hope College.
Freshman of the Year: Joe Gaffney, Charlevoix — Shot a double eagle at age 13, then shot his way to first-team all-Lake Michigan Conference honors as a freshman. Averaged 14.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals while shooting 84.6 percent from the free-throw line (10th in the state) and 38 percent from 3-point land.
Coach of the Year: Sean Finnegan, TC St. Francis — Having the reigning Player of the Year helps, but Finnegan coached the Gladiators to the Division 3 state finals and had a lead on heavily-favored Flint Beecher at halftime. Finnegan's Glads were 10th in the state in 3-point shooting at 35.31 percent as a team.
Landon Kulawiak, Buckley, So. — One of the best pure shooters in the area, Kulawiak averaged 22.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 steals and hit on 43 percent from downtown. Holds Buckley's record for most points scored through sophomore season with 853.
Evan Haverkamp, McBain, Jr. — The 6-foot-8 Haverkamp moves well for his height and was a consistent option for the Ramblers all season. Averaged 17.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 1.0 assists and 1.1 steals a game. He'll be a force again in the Highland Conference next year.
Levi Schultz, TC Christian, Sr. — Made a big impact at TC Christian after playing for the homeschool TC Bulldogs team the last three years. Passed 1,000 career points, as the 6-foot-6 senior can hit a 3-pointer over you or go to the rack. Averaged 19.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
Charlie Howell, Cadillac, Jr. — The 6-foot-6 Howell looks to be Cadillac's top dog next season after averaging 14.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks a game as a junior for the BNC co-champs with a balanced attack. Shot 61 percent inside the 3-point line.
Luke Gelow, Gaylord, Jr. — The 6-foot-4 guard was one of the Big North's top players this season, averaging 21.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game, even while playing through a shoulder injury that plagued him much of the season.
Jaden Montague, Cadillac, Sr. — Grand Rapids Community College commit and three-year varsity starter helped lead Vikings to a share of the Big North Conference title and district and regional crowns. Averaged 14.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals a game. Shot 47 percent from the field, 82 percent at the line and 39.4 percent on threes.
Ashtyn Simerson, Mesick, Sr. — Led the Bulldogs to the program's first district title since 1982, and within a point of upsetting top-10-ranked Lake Leelanau St. Mary in regionals. Averaged 19.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 4.2 steals and 1.0 block per game.
Jaxon Childers, Benzie Central, Jr. — Did a bit of everything for Benzie Central this season, earning unanimous all-Northwest Conference honors by averaging 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.9 steals and 0.8 block per game. Dunked over 40 times. Someone who'll force his way into POY discussion next season.
Kelan Pletcher, Ellsworth, Sr. — Second among all area players in scoring at 24.2 per game. He added 9.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.8 steals per game. Posted nine double-doubles this season, cracking the 1,000-point career mark early on his season.
Shawn Bramer, Lake Leelanau St. Mary, Sr. — Played through a knee injury all season and still averaged 14.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.2 blocks a game. Helped lead the Eagles to the state semifinals as a junior.
Gavin Bebble, Gaylord St. Mary, Sr. — Concordia commit ended varsity career with 1,147 points. Gave opponents fits despite not being tall. Averaged 22.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.0 steals per game. Two-time all-conference and captain for last two seasons.
Kaden Hansel, Inland Lakes, Sr. — All-Ski Valley Conference first-teamer broke the Inland Lakes single-game scoring record with 43 points at Central Lake this year. Averaged 21.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.4 steals per contest. Led Bulldogs to a share of their first SVC title since 2005.
Braeden Flynn, Harbor Springs, Fr. — Battled Gaffney in a tight contest for Freshman of the Year honors. The Rams rookie scored a Harbor Springs freshman-season record 465 points. Averaged 19.4 points, 4.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals a game.
Spencer Ball, Elk Rapids, Sr. — One of the area's premier defenders, Ball stepped up as a scorer this season, averaging 12.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 4.0 steals per game on the way to all-Lake Michigan Conference honors. He led the Elks in all those categories, except rebounding (where he was second). Holds Elk Rapids single-game steals record with 11. Elks Rapids' career leader in charges drawn (33) and steals (240). Will go into MHSAA record books for steals in career, game and season (95).
Garrison Barrett, Central Lake, Jr. — Led the Trojans in scoring at 21.5 points a game (seventh in the area) on 47 percent shooting. Also kicked in 5.2 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 1.5 assists per game. First-team all-Ski Valley Conference selection.
Reece Broderick, TC Christian, So. — Made the third-most 3-pointers in MHSAA single-season history with 104 this season on his way to averaging 18.8 points a game. Shot 42 percent from long distance as well, earning second-team all-state from the Associated Press and honorable mention from BCAM.
Jayden Hanson, Bellaire, So. — Fifth on the BCAM's Best 3-point shooting list at 46.8 percent from downtown. Averaged 19.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.4 blocks a game to fill out the stat sheet nicely. Already in 7th place for points in a single season in Bellaire history with 449. Voted team's best offensive player twice in two varsity seasons.
Carter Simmer, Mesick, Sr. — Earned first-team all-West Michigan D League honors along with Simerson as one of the better backcourt combinations in the region. Averaged 16.1 points, 3.4 43bounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 block per game.
John Hagelstein, TC St. Francis, Sr. — Michigan Tech football commit averaged 10.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 0.8 blocks a game, but came up big in St. Francis' run to the Division 3 state championship game. Made the BCAM's Best team in Division 3 and was first-team all-Lake Michigan Conference.
Ben Habers, TC West, Jr. — Second-team all-Big North Conference pick led the Titans with 13.2 points a game, chipping in 4.4 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals as well. Looks o lead a young West team next season.
Brody Jeffers, Gaylord St. Mary, Sr. — Only missed out on 1,000 career points because of a knee injury his junior year ha cost him much of the season. Finished with 977. Two-time team captain led team in assists (4.6) and rebounds (8.8), averaging 19.1 points and 2.5 steals as well. GSM won Ski Valley every year he was healthy.
Quinten Gillespie, TC West, Jr. — Second-team all-Big North Conference selection came on as a junior, averaging 12.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game. With Habers, Gillespie and Lincoln Lockhart all back next season, West has its eyes on a Big North run.
Nick Stevenson, Frankfort, Sr. — The Panthers quarterback averaged a double-double for Frankfort, putting up 10.1 points and 10.0 rebounds as the fifth-leading rebounder in the area. Added 1.7 assists and 2.0 steals as the Panthers advanced to the Division 2 state semifinals. BCAM's Best honorable mention pick.
Carter Kerby, Frankfort, So. — Emerged as a player to watch this season, averaging 11.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 0.5 block per game as he led the up-tempo Panther attack. Looks to build on this season and combine with Emmerson Farmer for another run next year. BCAM's Best honorable mention pick.
Patrick Puroll, Ellsworth, Jr. — Led all area players in assists with 7.3 per game, but isn't a one-trick pony. Added 12.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.3 steals a game as well to earn first-team all-Northern Lakes.
Ethan Kucharek, Grayling, Jr. — Versatile scorer for the Vikings, Kucharek put up averages of 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals a game to draw first-team all-Lake Michigan Conference honors.
Jackson Kulawiak, Buckley, Sr. — Second in the area in assists, he averaged 6.6 a game for the Bears. Added 11.2 points and 3.0 steals per game to earn first-team all-Northwest Conference selection. Four-year starter and team captain shot 82 percent from the line and finished with 827 career points.
Shane Izzard, Petoskey, Jr. — Second-team all-Big North selection put up solid numbers with 11.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steal per game, as well as usually drawing the toughest defensive assignment.
Drake Koepke, Bellaire, So. — Another talented sophomore for Bellaire, Koepke ran the Eagles offense to the tune of 14.5 points, 3.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals a game. Team captain last two seasons. Bellaire has three sophomore starters and junior honorable mention all-SVC pick Kaden Battershell returning next season.
Jacob Jenuwine, Ellsworth, Sr. — Pletcher and Jenuwine made up he highest-scoring backcourt in the, as both averaged over 20 points a game. Jenuwine put up 20.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game for the Lancers.
Lincoln Hicks, Manton, Jr. — Stepped up for Manton as a junior, putting up 14.6 points a game to go along with 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.5 steals to earn all-Highland Conference accolades.
Lincoln Lockhart, TC West, So.; Ben Rodenbaugh, McBain, So.; Jack Hogan, TC Central, So.; Carter Williams, Buckley, Jr.; Joey Donahue, TC St. Francis, Sr.; Jimmy Marshall, Petoskey, Jr.; Drew Breimayer, TC St. Francis, Sr.; Ian Robertson, TC West, Sr.; Teegan Baker, Cadillac, Sr.; Drayten Evans, Central Lake; Garret Mobley, Brethren, So.; Sam Schoonmaker, Inland Lakes, Jr.; Aiden Dixon, Mancelona, Jr.; Lee Pizana, Manistee Catholic, Sr.; Rowan Zickert, Benzie Central, Fr.; Landen Miller, TC Central, Sr.; Miles Pritchett, Benzie Central, Jr.; Emmerson Farmer, Frankfort, Jr.; Xander Sauer, Frankfort, Sr.; Drew Thompson, Lake Leelanau St. Mary, Sr.; Daniel Jacobson, Gaylord St. Mary, So.; Adam Domres, Onekama, Sr.; Caden Bradford, Onekama, So.; Luke Bradford, Onekama, Fr.; Brody Gothard, Lake City, Sr.; Myles Harless, Bear Lake, Fr.; Grady Harless, Bear Lake, Fr.; Korbyn Russell, East Jordan, So.; Connor Wallace, Inland Lakes, Jr.; Luke Enders, Gaylord, Sr.; Jack Neer, Boyne City, Sr.; Tyler Hall, Mesick, Jr.; Kalvin McGillis, McBain, Sr.; Chase Bott, Kingsley, So.; Connor Wojciechowski, Brethren, Jr.; Fletcher Quinlan, Grayling, Jr.; Mason Wilcox, Boyne City, Sr.; Thomas Fox, Johannesburg-Lewiston, Jr.; Dawson Derrer, Bellaire, So.; Nolan Moffit, Manton, Sr.; Jackson Jonker, Petoskey, Sr.; Ethan Bennett, McBain NMC, Jr.; Blake DeZeeuw, McBain NMC, Sr.; Gavin Goetz, Cadillac, So.; Cooper Swikoski, Kalkaska, Sr.; Brayden Halliday, TC Central, Sr.; Eli Main, Cadillac, So.; Michael Squires, Petoskey, Sr.; Miles Smith, TC Central, Sr.; JJ Dutmers, Sr., TC Central, Sr.; Brady Pretzlaff, Gaylord, Jr.; Sean Galla, Glen Lake, Sr.; tyler Milarch, Buckley, Sr.; David Chamberlin, Harbor Light, Jr.; Ashton Spang, Boyne Falls, Sr.; Jacob Scharp, Manistee, Jr.