SEWARD, Neb. – The continued elevation of Justin Wiersema’s game has led to a major award. The first team All-GPAC award winner has been named the honorary captain of the Omaha World-Herald’s Midlands NAIA Men’s Basketball All-Nebraska Team. Wiersema was joined as an All-Nebraska honoree by teammates Gage Smith and Carter Kent (honorable mention).
Wiersema took a large step forward in 2020-21 while becoming one of the top players in the entire conference. The native of Loveland, Colo., averaged career highs of 16.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.58 steals per game this season while shooting 55.6 percent from the floor and 41.0 percent from 3-point range. Among GPAC players, Wiersema ranked fifth in field goal percentage, sixth in scoring, sixth in steals per game, 10th in 3-point field goal percentage and 11th in assists per game. He scored at least 10 points in all 26 games. Wiersema will enter next season having totaled 896 career points.
Smith made a quantum leap from his sophomore to junior seasons. The native of Elizabeth, Colo., went from averages of 4.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in 2019-20 to 13.9 points and 9.2 rebounds this winter. As part of the breakout campaign, Smith shot 52.6 percent from the floor, 35.7 percent from 3-point range and 82.1 percent from the foul line. In career best single-game outings, Smith posted 32 points in a win over Dakota Wesleyan and 19 rebounds in a victory over Manhattan Christian College (Kan.). He ranked third among GPAC players in both rebounding and double-doubles (10).
As a junior, Kent (Crete, Neb.) averaged 15.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 40.4 percent from the floor, 34.6 percent from beyond the arc and 75.0 percent from the foul line. Kent racked up a career high 29 points in a win over Mount Marty. Back on Jan. 9, Kent became the 32nd player in program history to reach 1,000 career points (currently at 1,145).
NAIA/NCAA DIII Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska Team
G — Mason Hiemstra, Hastings, 15.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg
G — Jemeil King, Bellevue, 14.2 ppg, 3.3 apg
G — *Justin Wiersema, Concordia, 16.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg
F — Gage Smith, Concordia, 13.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg
F — Henry Tanksley, Peru State, 17.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg
Honorable mention: Bellevue: Lewis Hayes. Concordia: Carter Kent. Doane: Jaxon Harre, Anthony Laravie. Hastings: Karson Gansebom, Deshawn Walker. Midland: Laurence Merritt, Jake Rueschhoff, Bo Sandquist. Nebraska Wesleyan: Connor Riekenberg. Peru State: Tyrece Griggs, Skyler Wilson. York: Keyaun Hoskin, Eric Lenear.