NORFOLK, Neb. – The Northeast men’s basketball team will have a plethora of new faces when they take the court this season.
Led by sophomore leaders Michael Anderson and Justin Hiser, the Hawks welcome nine new players to the program, highlighted by five Nebraska natives. Anderson enters his second year with the Northeast men’s basketball team after playing in 30 games last season and starting in 18 contests. The Lincoln, Neb., native tallied 7.7 points and 3.1 assists per game, while shooting 43 percent from the field.
“Our sophomore class has been good leaders,” said head coach Dan Anderson, who enters his 23rd year at the helm of the Northeast men’s basketball team. “I have been very impressed with Michael Anderson and Justin Hiser’s ability to lead. They have set good examples for the freshmen. They both have done an excellent job in communicating what is expected. They are early to practice and help the young players on the court. Their voices have made a difference.”
Aside from the point-guard position, many spots will be up for grabs. Evan Decker adds height and a strong-shooting presence for the Hawks after a decorated career at Omaha North Magnet High School. Jared Lopez from Lincoln North Star High School and 6-foot-8 Midland College transfer Ben Tew add size in the paint. Tew played in 27 games and started in nine at Midland, an NJCAA DI school in Midland, Texas. Lopez was a four-time letterwinner and three-year starter for the Gators where he averaged 10 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as a senior.
“Our freshmen class has to grow up quickly because much will be expected from them,” Anderson added. “They have practiced hard so far this year. A good sign is that they are coachable and want to be coached. They have been good listeners and bring great intensity. They bring that intensity practice after practice and many freshmen don’t always do that.”
Athletic guards Devin Ross, LaVonte Howard, Trey Drummond III and Grant Stec also hope to see the court early in the season. Drummond joins the Hawks from Quakerdale Prep Academy where he averaged 20 points, five assists and five boards per game. Stec and Ross are both versatile guards that have the ability to create their own shot. Stec was a four-time letterwinner and four-year starter for the Bulldogs at Ainsworth High School. He led his team to the district finals as a senior and averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds per game. Crofton High School standout Andy Knapp and Birmingham, England native Akol Ring will provide depth off the bench for the Hawks.
“I am looking forward to the growth of this young team,” Anderson said. “They have worked very hard in the preseason and I do believe it will carry over to the season.”
Last season, the Hawks graduated one of the top scoring threats in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference. Emmette Page led the ICCAC with 17.6 points per game, while shooting 49 percent from the field and 46 percent from the three-point line. He also broke five records, including an 18-year-old record for most points scored in a career with 1,098. He also broke the record for most points scored in a single season, the single-season scoring average record, most free throws made in a career and most free throws made in a season. Page is currently playing at NCAA DI University of Evansville.
“Emmette had great basketball skills,” Anderson said. “He had the ability to score and distribute the ball. I really liked how vocal he was in practice when he talked through defensive and offensive situations.”
The Hawks are scheduled to play 22 ICCAC contests throughout the winter and early spring. They will kick-off the 2021 season when they host Ellsworth Community College at 7 p.m. on Jan. 20 at the Cox Activities Center in Norfolk.
“This group has been working hard,” Anderson mentioned. “They have always been looking forward to practice. We have also been having individual workouts to improve their game. A day of practice would be 90 minutes of weights and 90 minutes of practice, which is tough, but they are smiling all the time. I have always believed that good things happen to people who work hard. I am excited about this group of young men.”