Valparaiso (4-6, 0-2 MVC)
at Ole Miss (6-2, 0-0 SEC)
Game No. 11 – Saturday, Dec. 10, 2 p.m. CT
The Pavilion at Ole Miss (9,500) – Oxford, Miss.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: For the first time since the most famous moment in the history of the Valparaiso University men’s basketball program, the team will take on Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon. The game will be televised nationally on SEC Network. The Beacons are 3-1 at home and 1-1 on neutral floors but will seek their first true road win of the year on Saturday. This will mark the team’s final nonconference road game of the season prior to two pre-Christmas home dates. In addition, this will mark the squad’s first game this season against a power-five conference opponent.
Last Time Out: Valpo blitzed Trinity Christian 96-60 on Tuesday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center, a game that allowed former Valpo basketball player and assistant coach Jason Hawkins to return to his alma mater as the head coach of the Trolls. Nick Edwards stuffed the stat sheet with a season-high 21 points to go along with five rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Ben Krikke poured in 20 points and Kobe King added 17. All 13 Valpo players who saw the floor scored in the victory.
Following the Beacons: Television – SEC Network – Richard Cross (play-by-play) and Jon Sundvold (analyst)
Radio – 95.1 FM, WVUR, ValpoAthletics.com, TuneIn Radio App - Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (analyst)
Twitter updates - @ValpoBasketball
Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (101-102) is in his seventh season as the head coach of the men’s basketball program in 2022-2023. Twice during his tenure, Valpo has upset Top-25 opponents, defeating Drake and Rhode Island at the ARC. Valpo has four wins over AP Top 25 teams in program history, and two have come under Lottich. In 2019-2020, Valpo became the first team in the history of Arch Madness, the annual Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis, to reach the title game after playing in the opening round by winning three games in three days. Lottich, hired as the 22nd head coach of the Valpo men’s basketball program in April 2016, graduated from Stanford University in 2004 and New Trier High School (Illinois) in 2000.
Series Notes: This will be the third game between these two foes with each team owning one victory. If you’re a college basketball fan, you know all about the most recent matchup between these two programs. Bryce Drew hit a buzzer-beater that has become an iconic March Madness moment to lift Valpo past No. 13 Ole Miss 70-69 in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City. The program followed up its first NCAA Tournament victory with its first Sweet Sixteen appearance thanks to an overtime triumph over Florida State. These two teams also met back on Dec. 29, 1969 when head coach Gene Bartow’s group pushed Ole Miss to the brink but fell 80-77 in overtime as part of the Senior Bowl Classic in Mobile, Ala.
Valpo vs. Power Conferences
- Valpo’s last win over a power-conference opponent was against a member of the SEC, a 68-60 success story vs. Alabama at a multi-team event in Las Vegas on Nov. 21, 2016.
- The win over the Crimson Tide marked Valpo’s third triumph over a power-conference opponent in a two-year span. During the 2015-16 campaign, the team went on the road to beat Oregon State and then took down Florida State at the ARC in the second round of the NIT.
- Prior to 2015-16, Valpo hadn’t beaten a power-5 opponent since the 2008 win over Washington in the CBI.
- Nine of Valpo’s last 12 victories over power-5 opponents have come on neutral courts, with the most recent true road win coming in the aforementioned game at Oregon State.
Stat Sheet Stuffer
- On Dec. 6 vs. Trinity Christian, Nick Edwards stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals. He became the first Valpo basketball player since at least 2010 with 20 or more points and seven or more assists in the same game.
- Edwards’ 21 points against the Trolls represented a new season high, outdoing his previous best of 15 established on Nov. 16 at Chicago State. He also achieved a season high in the assist department with seven as he had handed out six twice this season, most recently Nov. 27 vs. James Madison.
- Not only did Edwards score the game-winning basket in the closing seconds of overtime on Nov. 27 vs. James Madison, but he posted a stat line that puts him in elite Valpo company.
- Edwards accrued nine points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals.
- Edwards became just the third Valpo player since the start of the 2010-11 season with nine or more points, six or more rebounds, six or more assists and two or more steals in the same game, joining Javon Freeman-Liberty and Brandon Wood.
- Freeman-Liberty posted that stat line on three occasions – Dec. 21, 2019 vs. Arkansas, Dec. 8, 2019 vs. Central Michigan and Feb. 19, 2020 at Drake. Wood did so twice – Nov. 23, 2010 at Ohio and Nov. 18, 2010 vs. Purdue North Central.
Palm Breaks Out
- The play of Jerome Palm was a major bright spot of Valpo’s 76-64 loss at Belmont on Dec. 1, and that success continued over the last two games.
- On Dec. 6 against Trinity Christian, the 6-foot-10 Netherlands native had eight rebounds, his fourth straight game with seven or more boards and his sixth time in nine outings this season with seven or more rebounds.
- Against the Racers, Palm pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds including four offensive boards. He also chipped in five points.
- Palm was a rebound shy of a double-double to go along with 11 points despite playing just 19 minutes and not seeing his first action of the game until the final five minutes of the first half in the Dec. 1 game in Nashville.
- His recent play has marked a significant turnaround and positive response after he had a DNP (CD) on Nov. 25 vs. South Dakota State.
- The 11 points nearly doubled his previous watermark of six, which came on Nov. 16 at Chicago State.
- Palm is second on the team at 6.7 rebounds per game despite averaging just 20.2 minutes per contest.
Krikke Among National Leaders
- Ben Krikke ranks second in the nation in made field goals with 87.
- He is 21st in the nation in minutes per game at 36:29. He was second in the nation prior to playing only 19 minutes in Tuesday’s blowout win over Trinity Christian.
- The senior forward is 20th nationally in points per game (20.5, third in MVC), fourth in total points (205, first in MVC) and fifth in field-goal attempts (159, first in MVC).
- Ben Krikke played in his 100th career game on Dec. 6 vs. Trinity Christian.
- Entering Dec. 10 at Ole Miss, Krikke has scored 1,179 career points. He is 17 points away from cracking the top 20 in program history. Lance Barker (1991-95) is currently 20th at 1,196.
- There are only 10 players in the nation averaging better than 20 points and better than six rebounds per game, and two of them are in the Missouri Valley Conference – Krikke and Drake’s Tucker DeVries.
- As of Dec. 7, Krikke and Kansas City’s RayQuawndis Mitchell are the only players in the country with 200+ points and 50+ rebounds.
- Krikke has reached double figures in five straight games and has scored 18+ in four straight. He has hit double figures in nine of his 10 games this season including six outputs of 20 points or more.
- Krikke got off to a strong start to his fourth season at Valpo, as the Edmonton native scored 18 points or more in each of his first four games including three straight with 20 or more points.
- Krikke became the first Valpo player with three straight 20-point outputs since program legend Alec Peters did so in December 2016 (at Missouri State, vs. Indiana State, vs. Santa Clara).
- Krikke played all 40 minutes on Nov. 19 vs. Incarnate Word. This marked the first time in his career that he has played the entire game. He did play 40+ minutes on two prior occasions but both were overtime affairs.
- After tallying a then-career-high 28 points in the Nov. 13 home opener vs. Western Michigan, Ben Krikke followed with 27 on Nov. 16 at Chicago State.
- Krikke’s 27 points on Nov. 16 at Chicago State were the most by a Valpo player in a true road game since Javon Freeman-Liberty’s 28 on Jan. 15, 2020 at UNI.
- Krikke became the first Valpo player to score 27 points or more in back-to-back games since Alec Peters did so in three straight outings in December 2016 (at Missouri State, vs. Indiana State, vs. Santa Clara).
- Last season, Ben Krikke was one of three players in the Missouri Valley Conference to shoot 50 percent or better from the floor and 80 percent or better from the free-throw line, joining Isiaih Mosley of Missouri State and Malevy Leons of Bradley while owning the highest field-goal percentage of that elite group.
- Krikke entered the season with a career field-goal percentage of 53.4, a mark that ranks seventh in program history.
- Krikke had a 12-game double-figure scoring streak that was snapped in the final game of the season, the MVC Tournament quarterfinal vs. Missouri State. He totaled 22 double-figure outputs and seven performances of 20 points or more while pacing the team in scoring on 11 occasions.
- After earning third team honors for the second straight year, Krikke became the first Valpo player to earn All-MVC accolades in two different seasons. The program’s last multi-time all-conference honoree was Alec Peters, who was a first-team all-Horizon League pick in each of his final three seasons, concluding in 2016-17.
- He earned MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team status for the second straight year. He is the only Valpo player who has been part of the MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team since the department joined the conference.
- Kobe King has scored in double figures in 29 of his 33 games in a Valpo uniform, including each of the first 10 games this season.
- The former Wisconsin Mr. Basketball has scored 15 points or more in eight of his 10 games this season. He has a trio of 20-point outputs this year and five in his collegiate career.
- He has scored 15 or more points in 18 of his 33 games with the Beacons.
- King is up to 34 career double-figure scoring efforts including his tenure at Wisconsin.
- At the end of last season, King became Valpo’s second All-Newcomer Team choice since joining the league and first since Bakari Evelyn in 2017-18.
- He appeared on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays after a three-quarter court buzzer-beater on Dec. 11 vs. Charlotte, a play that ranked No. 9 on the popular countdown that evening.
Reaching the Century Mark
- Valpo’s 100-win club has a new member after head coach Matt Lottich reached the significant milestone with 81-79 overtime victory over James Madison on Nov. 27 in Savannah, Ga.
- Lottich became just the fourth head coach in program history to get to 100 wins, joining Homer Drew, Bryce Drew and J.M. Christiansen.
- Lottich is one win away from tying and two from passing Christiansen for third in program history.
Name Years Wins
Homer Drew 1988-2002; 2003-2011 371
Bryce Drew 2011-2016 124
J.M. Christiansen 1929-1941 102
Matt Lottich 2017-pres. 101
Around the Arc
- Valpo knocked down a season-most nine 3-pointers on Dec. 6 vs. Trinity Christian and tied a season-best for 3-point percentage at 42.9, matching a mark set in the Nov. 7 opener at Toledo.
- The Beacons will hope to build upon this 3-point shooting showing as the 3-point arc has been a big bugaboo for the team this season.
- Valpo shot 25 percent or lower from 3 in four of the five games leading into Trinity Christian and hold a season 3-point percentage of 27.8.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Dec. 6: Valpo 96, Trinity Christian 60
- Valpo shot over 50 percent from the field and 43 percent from the 3-point arc en route to a season-high 96 points, the team’s highest point total in 364 days.
- Valpo scored 101 on Dec. 7, 2021 vs. East West.
- The 36-point margin of victory was also the team’s largest since Dec. 7, 2021 vs. East West (+43).
- The 60 points were the fewest allowed by the Beacons this season. The last time an opponent scored 60 or fewer was the MVC Tournament opener last March, an 81-59 drubbing of Evansville.
- Valpo handed out 17 assists and swiped seven steals in the win over the Trolls.
Scouting the Rebels
- Started the season on a six-game winning streak including a 72-68 win over Stanford in Orlando, Fla.
- Have lost back-to-back games, 59-55 vs. Oklahoma in Orlando, Fla. and 68-57 at Memphis.
- Picked ninth of 14 in the SEC preseason media poll.
- While three Valpo players have started all 10 games this season – Ben Krikke, Kobe King and Quinton Green – the remaining positions have featured some shifting.
- Jerome Palm started the first five games of the season before freshman Maximus Nelson took over a starting role and has started the last five games. Nelson starts at the four, shifting Krikke to the five.
- Valpo has used three different starting point guards this season. Nick Edwards got the nod for the first three games, followed by two games of Darius DeAveiro before Preston Ruedinger took the starting reins for the last five contests.
30 for 30
- In a career filled with big offensive performances by Ben Krikke, none have been larger than his 31-point outpouring on Dec. 4 vs. Murray State. This shattered his previous career high of 28 set on Nov. 13 of this season vs. Western Michigan.
- Krikke wasn’t the only 30-point scorer in that contest as Murray State’s Rob Perry finished with 30 points.
- Krikke’s 31 was the highest output by a Valpo player since Javon Freeman-Liberty’s 32 on Nov. 25, 2019 vs. Cincinnati in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Krikke turned in Valpo’s highest scoring showing in a Missouri Valley Conference game since joining the league. He had Valpo’s highest scoring output in a league game since Alec Peters had 32 in February 2016 vs. Detroit Mercy.
- Perry became the first Valpo opponent to score 30+ since Antonio Reeves of Illinois State on Feb. 9 of last season (34).
- The matchup between the Beacons and Racers marked the first Valpo game where players from both teams scored 30+ points since Dec. 22, 2016, when Alec Peters had 35 and Santa Clara’s Jared Brownridge scored 30.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Dec. 4 – Murray State 77, Valpo 70 (OT)
- This marked Valpo’s second overtime contest in the last three games after the Nov. 27 victory over James Madison also required an extra five minutes. The Beacons played six overtime games last season.
- Quinton Green scored 18 points to join Ben Krikke (31) and Kobe King (11) in double figures.
- The Beacons won the battle on the boards for the second time this season, outrebounding the Racers 40-37.
- The 3-point shooting remained a challenge as Valpo was held to 22.2 percent (4-of-18).
- Valpo’s lead peaked at 10 late in the first half. The game featured 10 ties and 14 lead changes.
The 1,000-Point Club
- Krikke reached the 1,000-career-point milestone in the Nov. 13 home-opening victory over Western Michigan.
- He became the first Valpo player to join that esteemed group since current graduate assistant Tevonn Walker did so exactly five years prior – Nov. 13, 2017 vs. Trinity Christian.
- Krikke’s milestone basket came at the 4:50 mark of the first half as his layup lifted his career point total into four figures. The crowd recognized the accomplishment with a loud ovation as public address announcer John Bowker communicated the news to the audience at the next dead ball.
- Krikke received a commemorative game ball as part of a pregame ceremony prior to Valpo’s Nov. 19 contest vs. Incarnate Word.
In the Nick of Time
- Fifth-year senior Nick Edwards became the latest entry on the list of Valpo basketball players who have hit game-winning shots in the final five seconds of regulation or overtime when he drove to the basket and scored in the closing ticks of OT to lift Valpo past James Madison 81-79 on Sunday in Savannah, Ga.
- This was Valpo’s first game-winning shot since March 6, 2020, Eron Gordon’s memorable basket to beat Loyola at the MVC Tournament in St. Louis.
- The bucket by Edwards marked Valpo’s 26th last-second shot in the final five seconds since the start of the 1992-93 season.
- There have been four total last-second shots during the Lottich Era, with Javon Freeman-Liberty vs. Toledo to open the 2019-20 season and Markus Golder’s 50-footer at the buzzer to beat Illinois State on Jan. 2, 2019 joining the aforementioned baskets by Edwards and Gordon.
A Quality Victory
- James Madison entered the game against Valpo at No. 78 in the KenPom rankings and had a 6-1 record with the lone loss coming 80-64 at the nation’s No. 1 team, North Carolina.
- The Dukes were a top-50 NET team in the first release of NET rankings and represented a Quad 1 win for Valpo.
- The Dukes entered the game leading the nation in scoring margin by outscoring the opposition by an average of 34.7 points per game.
- James Madison entered the contest third in the nation in scoring offense at 94.9 points per game, but the Beacons kept the Dukes to just 79 points despite playing an extra five minutes.
- James Madison had downed South Dakota State 79-60 after Valpo fell to the defending Summit League champion Jackrabbits by a 61-50 score as part of the multi-team event.
Top Two Scorers Back
- With both Ben Krikke (14.2 ppg) and Kobe King (14.0 ppg) back, Valpo returns its top two scorers from last season.
- The last time the program had its top two scorers back from the previous year was 2015-2016, when Alec Peters and Darien Walker both returned after finishing as the team’s top two scorers in 2014-15. The 2015-16 season was a historic one, as the Brown & Gold reached the NIT championship game.
- Only four of the 12 teams in the Missouri Valley Conference have their top two scorers back from last season, as Valpo joins Drake, Southern Illinois and Indiana State.
Point Guard Prowess
- Sophomore Preston Ruedinger has been placed on scholarship after spending much of the 2021-22 season as the starting point guard while competing as a nonscholarship freshman. He initially planned to redshirt but instead used a season of eligibility, making his season debut on Dec. 20 vs. Eastern Michigan.
- Ruedinger did not make more than one turnover in any of his 19 contests and played turnover-free basketball on 11 occasions.
- He finished the season with 32 assists against just eight turnovers. He was the only player in the nation with 30 or more assists and fewer than 10 turnovers, becoming the first Valpo player to finish a season with 30 or more assists and fewer than 10 turnovers in the last 15 years.
- At season’s end, Ruedinger was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team, the fourth straight season Valpo has had a rookie earn that distinction.
- In addition, sophomore Darius DeAveiro finished his freshman season as one of two freshmen nationally (joining Youngstown State’s Luke Chicone) with 50 or more assists and fewer than 25 turnovers. He was the only player in the MVC to achieve that feat.
- Valpo has added fifth-year senior Nick Edwards to the mix after he played at Glenville State last season. Edwards was one of eight players in the Division-II nation to post a triple-double a year ago en route to averaging 7.9 assists per game over 11 games while being limited by a foot injury.
Looking Back at 2021-2022
- The team boasted two MVC Scholar-Athlete team selections, the captain of the All-Bench Team, an MVC Most-Improved Team honoree, an All-MVC Third Team performer, an All-Newcomer team member and an All-Freshman team honoree. Valpo had seven different MVC postseason honors won by five different players.
- Valpo went a combined 5-0 against instate foes Indiana State and Evansville, sweeping the Hoosier State for the first time since joining the MVC.
- Valpo finished with a home record of .500 or better for the 30th consecutive season.
- Eight of Valpo’s 18 MVC games were decided by three points or fewer or required overtime.
- The Beacons overcame double-figure deficits to win on three occasions (Tulane, Eastern Michigan and Evansville), something that has occurred 19 times during the Matt Lottich Era.
- The team finished fourth in the MVC in both free-throw percentage (.759) and field-goal percentage (.459) while also finishing fourth in assists per game (12.5), steals per game (6.4) and third in assist/turnover ratio (1.1).
- Valpo played six overtime games, the program’s most since tying a Division-I record with eight in 1993.
- Ben Krikke was tabbed to the Preseason All-MVC First Team, becoming the first player to earn that honor in Valpo’s time in the conference.
- Prior to this season, Valpo had five preseason all-conference selections since joining The Valley in 2017-18, all second team honorees.
- Kobe King was named to the Preseason All-MVC Third Team, making this the second time in the team’s six years in The Valley that Valpo has boasted a pair of preseason all-league choices.
- Krikke, also a Preseason All-MVC Second Team choice last year, became the first Valpo player to earn Preseason All-MVC honors on multiple occasions.
- Valpo was picked to finish ninth of 12 in the preseason poll, ahead of Illinois State, UIC and Evansville.
- Drake hauled in 52 of the 54 first-place votes and finished a heavy preseason favorite, while Drake’s Tucker DeVries was named MVC Preseason Player of the Year.
- In addition to the conference’s honor, Krikke was named to the Preseason All-MVC First Team by Blue Ribbon Magazine
- The 2022-23 roster features eight returning letter winners, one returning player who redshirted last season and six newcomers (three freshmen, three transfers).
- Five Valpo players hail from outside of the United States – two from The Netherlands, two from Canada and one from Denmark.
- Four members of the roster are natives of the state of Wisconsin, while two call Illinois home and one has remained in his home state of Indiana. The remaining players come from Georgia, Minnesota and Ohio.
- Nick Edwards is the first Georgia native to play for the program since E. Victor Nickerson in 2015-16.
- Nick Edwards had a triple-double while playing at Glenville last season, one of eight Division-II players in the nation to achieve that feat.
- Quinton Green earned All-Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) honors for three straight seasons. He finished with 1,288 points over four seasons at Cedarville and knocked down a team-high 59 3-point field goals last year.
- Ibra Bayu spent three years in the United States playing high school basketball before arriving at Valpo. He dealt with a serious medical issue during his junior season before being sidelined by two separate fractured ankles as a senior.
- Jerome Palm comes to Valpo after two junior college seasons at Hillsborough CC and Daytona State. He competed for the championship-winning Netherlands national team in the 2021 3x3 national tournament.
- Maximus Nelson was a unanimous first team all-conference and first-team all-state selection after his senior season at Appleton North High School in Appleton, Wis.
Random off-the-court facts on each Valpo player.
- #1 Cam Palesse – Enjoys building fish-tank ecosystems.
- #2 Preston Ruedinger – Is an avid golfer in his spare time... Has an interest in coaching in the future.
- #3 Connor Barrett – Is also an avid golfer.
- #4 Darius DeAveiro – Father David is the former head coach at McGill University in Montreal and is now the head coach of the Ryerson Rams... Played on the state soccer team at age 13 and traveled significantly for the sport, including a trip to England.
- #5 Nick Edwards – Describes himself as a “wing fanatic” with his preference being either honey barbeque or lemon pepper... Cousin is Champ Bailey, who was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection during his NFL career that spanned from 1999-2014.
- #11 Emil Freese-Vilien – Civil engineering major who spends a lot of time drawing blueprints and houses... His first basketball practice came at age 14... Played serious badminton growing up... Is teaching himself how to cook.
- #12 Ibra Bayu – Played soccer during his youth but was advised to try basketball at age 10 during a gym class... Describes himself as a very social person who enjoys talking, making jokes and laughing.
- #13 Maximus Nelson – Enjoys working kids camp and teaching young children how to play the sport of basketball.
- #14 Quinton Green – Married his wife Liana English on Aug. 20, 2022. They met at Cedarville, where she was a member of the women's tennis team... Has four younger brothers and sisters... His roommate for five years at Cedarville was Conner TenHove, a Valparaiso, Ind. native... Scored 23 points and pulled down seven rebounds against Valpo in an exhibition game on Oct. 19, 2019 while playing for Cedarville...
- #15 Luke Morrill – Walk-on who enjoys wakesurfing.
- #20 Joe Vick – Walk-on who is the son of Julie Vick, the administrative assistant for Valpo Basketball.
- #23 Ben Krikke – Spent over 100 days in quarantine before and during the 2020-2021 season... Enjoys mountain biking and chess, which he learned from his grandfather... Credits his father’s Michael Jordon DVD set for helping hone his skills.
- #32 Joe Hedstrom – Is an avid fisherman and Valpo’s proximity to Lake Michigan added to his desire to play at Valpo... Grandfather Burt Hedstrom played basketball, football and baseball at Northwestern University (1944-47) and both of his parents played college basketball, mother Sharon (Bethel) and father Peter (St. Olaf).
- #33 Jerome Palm – Enjoys cutting hair for fun as a makeshift barber as he cuts hair for friends and family members in addition to his own.
- #35 Kobe King –Enjoys making music and writing song lyrics.
- Associate head coach Luke Gore is in his 21st year on staff and has served under four different head coaches. The Valpo veteran has helped the team to eight postseason berths in the last 12 years and was on staff for the three winningest seasons in program history. He serves as the team’s defensive coordinator in addition to leading Valpo’s scheduling and scouting efforts.
- Assistant coach Matt Bowen returned to Valpo’s staff in 2018-19 after previously spending four seasons with the Brown & Gold from 2002-2006. He was the head coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth from 2012-2018. Bowen coordinates the team’s offense.
- Assistant coach Rob Holloway is back for his fifth season after spending the previous two years on staff at Eastern Illinois, his alma mater.
- Director of Basketball Operations Peter Funk is in his second season in that role after spending the previous two years as a graduate assistant and the three years prior to that as a student manager.
- Vijay Blackmon joined the Valpo staff this summer, leading the program’s strength & conditioning efforts. He arrived at Valpo after serving as the head strength & conditioning coach at Bella Vista College Prep School in Phoenix, Ariz. from October 2021 to April 2022. During that time, he also served as a strength coach intern for the Grand Canyon men’s basketball program, which is under the direction of Valpo legend Bryce Drew.
- Former Valpo basketball standout Tevonn Walker has rejoined the program as a graduate assistant. He scored 1,405 career points with the Brown & Gold, a total that ranks 14th in program history. He went on to play professionally in Germany and Canada.
- After starting his career at Michigan State, Thomas Kithier was a key player for the Beacons last season. Due to a career-ending back injury, he has transitioned into a graduate assistant role.
- Sam Back is in his fifth season as a student manager and third as head manager. The North Judson, Ind. native was named to Grow the Game’s Manager All-American Team following the 2021-2022 campaign.
- Valpo signed a trio of incoming student-athletes during the early signing period in November.
- 6-foot-9 forward Zane Dougherty (Avon, Ind. / Ben Davis), 6-foot-1 point guard Jahari Williamson (Pickering, Ontario, Canada / Royal Crown Academy) and 6-foot-6 combo guard Yanis Bamba (Laval, Quebec, Canada / Jean-de-Brebeuf) are poised to join the Valpo program for the 2023-2024 season.
- Lottich on Bamba: “Yanis is a little bit of a late bloomer,” Lottich said. “He’s from a very similar area to where Max (Joseph) and Tevonn (Walker) are from. He’s a native French speaker. He’s a big-body guard, about 6-6, 200. He’s very athletic and a very good passer. He was excited about the opportunity to come to Valpo, where he’s seen the improvement that players make here. I think he will come in and be able to compete right away because of his athleticism, size and physicality. He’s just scratching the surface of who he is as a basketball player.”
- Lottich on Williamson: “We saw Jahari in Milwaukee for the first time,” Lottich said. “The Canadian pipeline that we’ve had has been really good to us. He’s cerebral, and he shoots it really well. Recruiting internationally can be tougher because you don’t get your eyes on the players as much, but we were able to see Jahari play in some Canadian games where he was in high-level environments. This was similar to how we recruited Ben Krikke. Right now, Jahari is one of the five best players in Canada. His ability to stretch the defense and play with pick-and-rolls with the ball in his hands is going to be big for us.”
- Lottich on Doughty: “We saw him at a high school showcase, and what we really liked was his motor as a big man,” Lottich said. “There’s one thing that we don’t want to have to coach, and that’s effort. When you recruit big men, they are typically coming into their own and then have vast improvements when they get to college. In Zane’s case, one thing that really stood out to us was just how tenacious he was on both ends of the floor. He was rebounding out of his area and loves contact. We followed him throughout the summer and got to watch him play in a few high-level games. We love his toughness, and he really fits Valpo. He saw the family atmosphere at Valpo, and that resonated with him. His family is really important to him.”
Tradition of Excellence
- Valpo has 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and four NIT berths in the program’s proud history, with the team’s postseason success highlighted by a Sweet Sixteen run in 1998.
- The program has produced nine All-Americans, won 18 regular season conference championships and 10 conference tournament crowns.
- Valpo also boasts eight NBA players, 10 conference players of the year and 20 20-win seasons.
- Nine of the team’s NCAA appearances have come since 1996.
- Valpo has qualified for the postseason eight times in the last 12 years, including 2019-20 where Valpo accepted a postseason berth but the tournament was not played due to COVID-19.
- Valpo has developed a myriad of professional basketball players over the last quarter century, most notably a pair of recent NBA players. Ryan Broekhoff (class of 2013) signed a contract with the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2018 after spending five seasons playing internationally in Russia and Turkey. Alec Peters (class of 2017) was the 54th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns. Peters appeared in 20 games for the Suns in 2017-18, highlighted by a 36-point performance in the season finale against Dallas – a new single-game high by a Valpo alum in the NBA. He has gone on to a successful career overseas with CSKA Moscow (2018-2019), Anadolu Efes (2019-2020) and Kirolbet Baskonia (2020-2022) and Olympiacos (2022-present).
- Valpo has produced over 50 professional players in the last three decades.